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San Luis Obispo ranked ‘Best College Town in America’

First-year architecture student Tommy Walborn, from San Diego, carrying only his guitar and some clothes prepares to move in to his dorm on campus at Cal Poly in September 2011. His dad, Dave, is carrying the the rest of Tommy’s stuff in the background.
First-year architecture student Tommy Walborn, from San Diego, carrying only his guitar and some clothes prepares to move in to his dorm on campus at Cal Poly in September 2011. His dad, Dave, is carrying the the rest of Tommy’s stuff in the background. Tribune File Photo

Not only is San Luis Obispo the “happiest city in America” — at least according to “The Oprah Winfrey Show” when it was still on the air — it’s also now the best town in the nation for students to spend their college years.

That’s according to website College Rank, which says it helps prospective students choose a college based on various criteria, including general lifestyle categories and academics.

Author Kara Mayer Robinson researched hundreds of college towns based on factors such as outdoor space, the number of boutiques and cafes, pedestrian friendliness, culture, nightlife and “the general vibe” when creating the list that included communities in 33 states.

When it came to San Luis Obispo, Robinson wrote that the “stress you endured while applying to colleges will instantly melt away.”

“This collegiate town on California’s scenic Central Coast has a contagious kick-back-and-relax vibe,” she wrote. “It’s not just college students who love the SLO life. Many people settle in here because of its culture, entertainment and surroundings.”

Whether you’re a resident, a student or a visitor, San Luis Obispo is not only a place to go to college but the best town with a university to enjoy everything it has to offer.

Molly Kern, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s director of communications

Other California college towns that made the list include Santa Cruz, which ranked ninth, and Berkeley at 11.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, came in second, Gainesville, Florida, was third, and Amherst, Massachusetts, was ranked fourth.

“These top 50 cities offer college youth and energy while also providing a wonderful place to call home for life,” College Rank wrote about the assessment.

Molly Kern, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce’s director of communications and business education, cited San Luis Obispo’s attractive “rolling hillsides, breathtaking ocean views and spectacular beaches” in the article.

Kern said Thursday that it’s great to see the city so highly touted, adding she believes the accolade was chosen from a combination of offerings: culture, arts, athletics, the outdoors, the Cal Poly campus and more. Cuesta College also attracts many students from out of the area, as well as locals, because of its reputation as a community college and the desirability of living in the San Luis Obispo.

“Whether you’re a resident, a student or a visitor, San Luis Obispo is not only a place to go to college but the best town with a university to enjoy everything it has to offer,” Kern said.

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