#4. Fayetteville

From its hip strip of shops, bars and restaurants to the bike paths and walking trails that snake through the city, Fayetteville, Ark., greatly accommodates the college lifestyle. Southern charm meshes with a modern arts scene and innovative businesses to create a place that draws young families who crave a unique yet traditional small-town vibe. More than 18 percent of residents are between the ages of 25 and 34. They, like many long-time residents, enjoy the laid-back lifestyle Fayetteville offers, including a unhurried pace that allows you to savor the many great moments each day brings.

The University of Arkansas provides a base for the local economy that continues to grow as the college expands its programs and companies move in to take advantage of the school’s research facilities.

Residents welcome the college crowd, which supports many local businesses. Each year, thousands of U of A students volunteer to help local nonprofit agencies including animal shelters and environmental protection groups. Mixed in with historic single-family homes along tree-lined streets are modern apartments and smaller houses that provide students with off-campus accommodations. Football games draw thousands of alumni to the city, which plays host to mega pre- and post-game parties for the Razorbacks. Dickson Street, the center of Fayetteville’s entertainment district, is frequented by an almost equal number of students and residents who come to sip coffee, sample craft beers and dig into barbecue. Music venues and festivals in Fayetteville provide even more entertainment options.

It seems that no matter where you are in Fayetteville, there’s a park or open area nearby providing space to relax under a tree, take a walk or play a game with friends. Residents are highly active thanks to the abundance of outdoor activities in Fayetteville. Breathtaking natural attractions like the Ozark Mountains surround the city, providing easy access to hiking trails, rock climbing areas, fishing holes and mountain bike paths. Reoccurring events like the local farmers market and First Thursday Fayetteville unite residents in a celebration of agriculture, music and art.

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