9. Fayetteville, AR
An old law in Fayetteville, AR, prohibits dogs from barking after 6 p.m., but it doesn't say anything about hog calling. In fact, yelling out “woo pig sooie” isn't just tolerated in this funky college town, it's encouraged. Many residents of this city cheer on Tusk the Razorback, the official mascot of the University of Arkansas. The Razorbacks' reach can be felt throughout the city, from its medical center and performing arts events to the research assistance students and professors provided to local companies.
Students at UA are also cheered for their community outreach, which includes a student-run emergency food assistance program, literacy programs to help elementary school children develop a love for reading and mentoring girls in underprivileged neighborhoods. Razorbacks also take part in the Clinton Global Initiative, working on five projects including an effort to create a national coalition of food pantries.
Fayetteville has become a haven for entrepreneurs and innovative companies, largely because of its college town vibe, artistic scene and progressive residents. A collection of developers recently renovated many old homes and apartments, transforming them into hip, modern abodes.
College students mix well with residents in Fayetteville's top restaurants, which offer everything from BBQ (sorry hogs) to Thai food and contemporary cuisine. Music from a variety of bars and restaurants spills onto Dickson Street, the city's entertainment district, nearly every night of the week, while the Downtown Square and Gardens provide a more peaceful place to pass through. The annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally rumbles into the city every fall, while the Walton Arts Center sets the stage for musicals, plays, concerts and comedic performances.
Student population: 24,537
Don't Miss: Scull Creek Trail, which is lined with mature trees and connects the UA campus with other parts of town, including shopping centers.