Students experience all kinds of new adventures in college. Parties, concerts, tailgating, and other campus events provide fun, safe opportunities for students to enjoy time together. These activities may or may not include alcohol. Some schools have liberal alcohol policies, and they may even have bars on campus, which give students a place to wind down and socialize. College towns often offer bars, pubs, and breweries, adding to an overall party feel for students. The social scene at any college or university helps define the school’s atmosphere and the overall student experience. Many schools are known for their parties, whether they are in a rural setting with a high number of bars per capita or located in an urban environment with a thriving nightlife. By embracing a “party school” reputation, colleges and universities can incorporate that reputation as part of what they have to offer students. The best party schools give students a chance to work, study, and play responsibly.
America’s Best Party Schools
Tulane University – New Orleans, LA
Located in New Orleans, Louisiana, Tulane University benefits from the weather, food, and culture of the historic city. A private research university, Tulane embraces its traditions and those of New Orleans, providing students with numerous events and celebrations throughout the year. Students can take part in Crawfest, an annual music, food, and arts festival; cry out the Hullabaloo Cheer at sporting events; and enjoy one last wave with music, food, and family before graduation.
Campus life at Tulane includes concerts, parties, and tailgating at football games each fall. During Mardi Gras festivities, students can watch the Tulane Marching Band in the parade, drink, throw beads, and celebrate one of the world’s most famous carnival events. Tulane University has no bars on campus, but the restaurants, clubs, bars, and other venues that surround the school provide plenty of access to alcohol. The Boot, a student bar in New Orleans, was voted the best college bar in 2013.
University of Delaware
Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware offers rigorous academic programs to about 25,000 students each year. Located in Newark, Delaware, the university is an unlikely party spot. Students enjoy an active nightlife and social scene. Students have access to several bars, taverns, and restaurants within walking distance of campus and can participate in numerous sporting events, concerts, and on-campus activities.
Sponsored by two local bars, The Barn in Delaware Stadium serves beer and provides a tailgating area for students and fans. Students can spend hours in The Cockpit, listening to music and partying before the athletic event. Greek life at the University of Delaware includes regular house parties and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations dominate the campus. The school promotes Shamrockfest and celebrates community service on the holiday.
University of Georgia
Near downtown Athens, the University of Georgia includes 17 schools and colleges that encourage academic excellence and research innovation. Downtown Athens provides plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants for UGA students, and extensions of UGA’s website offer guides to the best establishments in the area. UGA boasts a large number of fraternities and sororities, which promote leadership and diversity and are known for their tailgating and parties.
UGA has a strong football tradition, and students participate in elaborate tailgating events. Tailgating at UGAinvolves an all-day party with music, alcohol, and food. Games between the Georgia Bulldogs and their rivals, the Florida Gators, take place at a neutral site in Jacksonville, Florida, and were long known as “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party.”
West virginia university
West Virginia University in Morgantown was founded in 1867 as a public land-grant institution. Although WVU has several campuses throughout the state, Morgantown students have exceptional celebratory spirit. Morgantown’s nightlife and bar community provide numerous opportunities to drink and have fun. For example, a bar called The Back Door is located across the street from the university library.
WVU students demonstrate their school spirit through their dedication to football, tailgating, and couch-burning. WVU football fans enjoy hours of tailgating on game day and go to great lengths to demonstrate their school spirit. Student excitement for football games and excessive drinking led to the development of a couch-burning tradition that Morgantown authorities have been working to stop for almost a decade.
The party atmosphere at WVU also includes concerts, elaborate St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and an athletics-sponsored happy hour.
University of Wisconsin Madison
Located on Lakes Monona and Mendota, the UW was founded in 1848 and is one of the leading research institutions in the world. The UW has a bar, Der Rathskeller, in the student union, and the campus straddles State Street, a pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants, and plenty of bars. Students at the UW can also hang out on the Memorial Union Terrace and enjoy a beer, live music, and a breeze off the lake.
The first Saturday in May, thousands participate in the Mifflin Street block party, which shuts down the street. Partiers drink beer and enjoy the end of a long Wisconsin winter. The UW students also enjoy tailgating, Greek life, and events like Madison’s annual Brat Fest.
Fewer than 4,000 students attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, but the number of house parties at the school created the tradition of House Party Weekend. When Bucknell University’s administration cancelled House Party Weekend in 2013, students continued with the celebrations, merely moving them off-campus. House Party Weekend lives on but has been scaled back from what it once was.
Students at Bucknell University, especially fraternity and sorority members, provide house parties for the student body. The school and the town create a nonstop party environment in Lewisburg, with food trucks like the Flying Bison providing meals until 3 a.m. on weekends. Students can also participate in karaoke, student organization meetings, and campus community events at Uptown, an on-campus facility that allows alcohol.
Based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lehigh University has about 5,000 undergraduate students and a reputation for parties. There are 25 fraternity and sorority houses on the university’s campus, which may contribute to the number of parties and the number of drinking citations issued each year. The strong Greek presence of Greek life on Lehigh’s campus has led to an increased police presence.
Students enjoy themselves at Lehigh, whether or not they participate in fraternity or sorority events. They can tailgate at the school’s football games each fall or visit one of the many bars near campus. Bethlehem offers five bars a short distance from Lehigh, and cocktails are available at nearby restaurants. Student organizations can also hold on-campus events with alcohol, as long as they follow the university’s regulations and social policy guidelines.
The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is located in one of the state’s most vibrant and culturally rich cities. UT students celebrate and party on football game days. Each spring, the university hosts RoundUp, which includes music, food, and drinks for the Austin community and UT students and is usually accompanied by additional parties on campus.
Austin’s thriving music scene provides students with plenty of concerts to attend, and local music venues offer various types of entertainment. Each weekend, Sixth Street in downtown Austin is blocked off for a street party, during which students can visit bars, pubs, and craft breweries without paying cover charges. Rainey Street features former homes that have been converted to lounges, bars, and beer gardens.
Florida State University
Florida State University provides events, games, and movies for students to enjoy. Students also take advantage of the thriving Tallahassee nightlife. Bullwinkle’s, a bar situated on the Tallahassee Strip, offers drink specials, music, and a tiki bar four days a week, while nightclubs like TENN give students a chance to dance. For a quieter, cheaper option, students can visit Poor Paul’s Pourhouse or Potbelly’s.
Student organizations, including FSU’s 54 fraternities and sororities, can provide alcohol at on-campus events and activities with university permission. Tailgating kicks off with late-night sessions prior to the first game of the year, and official Seminole tailgating includes celebration, alcohol, and music.
University of California Santa Barbara
The party culture at the University of California Santa Barbara in the Isla Vista community prompted the creation of a committee to work for a cooperative and collegial relationship between the school, its students, and long-term residents of the area. The Life of the Party group at UC Santa Barbara promotes responsible alcohol consumption and provides information to students.
Parties, activities, and events at Isla Vista include dodgeball tournaments, yoga and trivia nights, and Halloween festivities. The party atmosphere at UC Santa Barbara also includes events like Deltopia, a weekend-long street party for locals only. The party, which takes place on Del Playa Drive in Isla Vista, is not sanctioned by the school, but student attendance remains consistent. Students can also hang out at bars in downtown Santa Barbara or near campus, visit The Loft, or see concerts at the UC San Diego Box Office.