Where to hang: Skipper's Pub, known for its gyros and outdoor seating
Where to eat: Bagel & Deli Shop, an Oxford fixture since 1975; during school sessions, they deliver between 5 p.m. and midnight
Extra credit: Oxford Community Park features 113 acres of athletic facilities, playgrounds and nature trails.
3. Oxford, OH
In many ways, Oxford, Ohio, is an extension of Miami University. Founded after the college was chartered, Oxford has evolved around the campus and grown along with the university. Many of Oxford's residents are former MU students who fell in love with the city and decided to stay. That includes Liz Snyder and Nicole Ayres, who opened the coffee shop Kofenya – one of many popular hangout spots in Oxford's Uptown business district – when they were seniors at MU.
The success of the college, considered one of the nation's top liberal arts schools, has helped make Oxford one of the best small towns in America. Residents enjoy low crime, a thriving arts and culture scene, affordable housing, lots of recreational amenities and great schools. Surrounded by farmland and forests, Oxford provides a secluded, small-town atmosphere, yet residents are only 35 miles north of Cincinnati, which offers a major metropolitan experience. But there are plenty of things to do in Oxford. Many students choose to hang out on High Street, considered the main drag in Oxford and home to a high concentration of restaurants, shops and pubs. Those who crave variety will find it in Oxford's restaurants and the seasonal activities offered in and around the city.
Among the charming aspects Oxford includes are the many historic homes, school buildings and stores that create an almost whimsical link to the past. Many of the buildings in Mile Square, the city's historic area, were built in the mid to late 1800s and are occupied by students. The nearby Uptown area hosts a variety of events including festivals, concerts and a farmers market. While football games draw massive crowds that more than double the city's population, RedHawks hockey games also provide a truly unique experience.