- Home of: University of Idaho Vandals
- Student population: 11,180
- Conference: Sun Belt
- Where to hang: John's Alley Tavern, a live music venue and bar
- Where to eat: Nectar, a farm-to-table restaurant serving refined comfort foods
- Extra credit: Tri-State Idaho's Most Interesting Store, which is part outdoor outfitters, part hardware store, part gift shop and part gourmet housewares store
8. Moscow, ID
Visible from just about any part of Moscow, Idaho, are high mountains, lush forests and crystal clear streams that endlessly tempt residents of this college town to engage in outdoor adventures. These amazing natural amenities can be especially distracting to students at the University of Idaho who must hit the books before they hit the backcountry. The city serves as a gateway to camping, fishing, mountain biking, snowmobiling and skiing.
Unfortunately for the easily distracted, Moscow's amazing natural attractions aren't the only things that will lure students away from the classroom. Eclectic restaurants, coffee shops, taverns and art galleries draw both residents and U of I students out to play. Like any good college town, Moscow's arts scene blossoms in a variety of mediums, from live music and performance art to paintings, sculptures and crafts. One of Moscow's biggest events is the university's annual homecoming parade that weaves through the downtown area. The event draws thousands of residents, students and alumni who later converge at Kibbie Dome to watch the football team. The city's annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival brings thousands of music lovers to campus, while the Renaissance Fair takes downtown Moscow back to the era of knights in shining armor. Smaller art events and concert series are attended by hundreds of residents.
Bicycle racks are a common element in Moscow's downtown area, which offers tree-lined streets with wide sidewalks and rows of shops and restaurants. The predominately liberal mindset of residents here yields a laid-back atmosphere where all walks of life are welcomed. At places like Bucer's Coffeehouse & Pub, you'll just as easily find a Bible study group as you will a bachelor party. Thanks to the high number of college students who don't have time or just don't want to cook, there is a large collection of restaurants serving everything from pizza to Peruvian cuisine.