The Best College-town Road Trips

This fall many students and parents will be driving to school together for the big drop-off. Here’s how to have fun in five classic college towns.

BOULDER, COLORADO

Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is celebrated for its stunning scenic views and myriad outdoor activities. Enjoy the final days of summer by heading over to Boulder Canyon for world-class climbing, fishing and hiking. Or for a more relaxing and peaceful hike, drive down to Goshawk Ridge, an area covered in wild flowers and cut off from man-made noises (bikers and ATVs are not allowed). Afterward, reward yourselves with a delicious fresh meal at The Kitchen, a bargain farm-to-table family-style restaurant, then take an evening stroll along the charming Pearl Street Mall.

Pro Tip: To prepare for the gravelly and sometimes unsteady mountain terrain, have your suspension, shocks and struts checked before you hit the road.


AUSTIN, TEXAS

There always seems to be some sort of arts festival going on in Austin, and early fall is no exception. Late September boasts Fantastic Fest, an acclaimed “genre” film festival featuring everything from obscure indie sci-fi flicks to offbeat blockbusters (There Will Be Blood premiered at the festival). For a break from the Texas heat, visit the Barton Springs, a wondrous spring-fed pool offering the most refreshing, bone-chilling swimming in the area. On your way back, treat yourself to a Mexican Vanilla ice cream cone, which is a cult favorite from Amy’s Ice Creams, a locally owned shop with numerous locations around Austin.

Pro Tip: Heavy AC use over the summer may have taken a toll on your charging system, so it’s a good idea to make sure your battery is working well before going on a long drive. A battery test, multi-point inspection, tire rotation and more are included in The Works™ package.


ATHENS, GEORGIA

You’re in Southeastern Conference territory, which means you’re in the heart of college football country. Head over to Sanford Stadium, home to the Georgia Bulldogs, and join the epic pre-game tailgate festivities, which generally means consuming local delicacies such as hot spiced boiled peanuts and Georgia peach cobbler. After filling up, either follow the crowd into the stadium for the game or wander over to the laid-back Trappeze Pub and Highwire Lounge near campus to watch it there. If you’re in the mood for a different type of wildlife, explore the beautiful and tranquil 313-acre State Botanical Garden of Georgia, or stop by the Bear Hollow Zoo (it’s free!) to catch a glimpse of native bears, bobcats and more.

Pro Tip: Athens gets crowded in September. Make sure your brake pads are in top shape so you can maneuver safely around students, cyclists and crazed Bulldog fans.


EUGENE, OREGON

After driving along Interstate 5 to Eugene, stretch your legs on one of the town’s enchanting tree-lined pathways. A local favorite is the hike up to the summit of Spencer Butte, where you’ll find breathtaking views in every direction. Or you can stroll along the paths that surround Skyline Boulevard and see Pre’s Rock, the memorial for track Olympian Steve Prefontaine. Reward yourselves afterward by grabbing a plate of huli huli chicken at student favorite Hawaiian Time, which has three locations in Eugene.

Pro Tip: It rains quite a bit in Eugene whatever the season. Check your wiper blades ahead of time—if they leave streaks when you use your windshield wiper fluid, replace them before you head out on the road.


AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS

Have a relaxing day before the craziness of freshman orientation begins by driving out to one of the various farms of Western Mass that allow you to hand-pick fruits and vegetables, a perfect activity for a crisp sunny day (this time of year should bring the tail end of strawberry and blueberry season). At Bub’s BBQ devour delicious pork and catfish entrées with all-you-can-eat sides, then stop by the whimsical Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art—where you can stroll down memory lane before saying goodbye. But don’t get too sad. The holidays are right around the corner.

Pro Tip: The local farm roads can be bumpy, so be sure to test your tire pressure before you make the trip.

By Reed Jackson

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