10: University of California, Santa Barbara
A difficult school to get into (entering freshmen have an average GPA of 3.98), UCSB counts five Nobel Prize winners on its faculty. It’s also perched on prime beachfront property. Every weekend students swarm to parties on Del Playa Drive, and in the spring there’s Floatopia, a drink fest during which students lazily raft along the coast. After Floatopia 2009 drew 12,000 people, authorities put the kibosh on last year’s event; however, as of press time, students were investigating a legal loophole in hopes of organizing “Rowtopia 2011.”
9: University of Central Florida
When you put 56,000 college students 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, you end up with an explosive mix of sun, sand and girls. UCF’s campus is well appointed (the dorms are akin to hotels), and though the school’s football team is unexceptional, prodigious tailgating makes up for any lack of athletic prowess. UCF students even get a discount on Universal Studios tickets. Sage advice from one student: “Never ride the Hulk drunk.” Duly noted.
8: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
UT Knoxville’s powerhouse basketball team plays in the largest on-campus single-sport arena in the U.S., and its outstanding football team clashes in the fourth-largest nonracing stadium in the nation. Plus, this is the only school we know of with its own fraternity boxing tournament—a spring event that occurs amid a weeklong party and draws students from all over. To top it off, a strip of bars runs through campus. Now that’s Southern hospitality.
7: University of Georgia
Football, sorority girls and drinking are the pillars of SEC life, and UGA reps all three with gusto. In downtown Athens, dozens of bars are crammed into a two-block radius—so no matter what your definition of an ideal Friday night, you’re guaranteed to find something to your liking. The music scene is hopping, the restaurants are first-rate, and thanks to the full rides provided to in–state students by Georgia’s Hope Scholarship, the school is brimming with Southern belles.
6: University of Wisconsin
In Badgerland the beer flows freely, there’s always a sports team to toast and every night offers an array of things to do. Even winter can’t squelch that feisty Badger spirit; Madison’s frosty temps give students one more reason to imbibe and cozy up to a warm body. And then there are the epic weekend-long parties—Halloween and the Mifflin Street Block Party being the two standout events. Past celebrations got so big, riots broke out.
5: University of Texas at Austin
*****Even if UT Austin didn’t have a top-notch football team and an inordinately attractive female student body, it would still make our list. Why? Because it’s located in one of the coolest cities in the country. Austin is known for its stellar nightlife and music scene, and last year it was dubbed the third best city for singles. As one student sums up, “Austin is the music capital of the U.S. and a blue dot in a sea of red.” Don’t mess with Texas.*****
4: University of Western Ontario
More than 20,000 undergrads enjoy a drinking age of 19 at this London, Ontario school. The bar scene is kicking. On Tuesdays students cram into Ceeps to play Sledgehammer Bingo, which is basically an excuse to strip and drink (as if one were needed), and both St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween are monumental occasions as well. The on-campus scene is just as lively. One of the school’s dorms became so notorious for partying it was nicknamed the Zoo.
3: Arizona State University
The Sun Devils live up to their name. Thanks to Tempe’s toasty climate, there’s always a wealth of exposed skin at ASU. “Only in Arizona can you have outrageous pool parties in February,” says a senior. At night students head to Tempe’s barhopping nirvana, the Mill Avenue District. Plus, we give props to a school that turned streaking into a yearly tradition. Every spring ASU holds the Undie Run, a charitable event in which thousands of students strip and run around campus. Did we mention that Nick Nolte is an alum?
2: Penn State University
In addition to its formidable football legacy, this “public ivy” has formidable thirst. Take for example the aplomb with which ,b>Penn State celebrates St. Patrick’s Day: Students and local bar owners fete the day of drinking one week early.</b> “It falls during spring break, so we do it ahead of schedule,” a student explains. “The bars open in the morning, and green beer flows.” Penn State students don’t let anything stand in the way of an alcohol-soaked holiday—not even an alcohol-soaked vacation.
1: University of Colorado, Boulder
CU-Boulder is home to reefer madness. Not only does Boulder have 50 medical–marijuana dispensaries within its city limits, but every April nearly half the university’s 24,000-plus undergrads turn out for the annual 4/20 smoke-out on school grounds. Boulder is also a beer drinker’s paradise, with four breweries in town. "There are a lot of distractions from school—snowboarding, mountain biking, super hot girls,” says one alum. Literally dozens of world-class ski resorts are a drive away. You know Boulder is a party school because whenever you tell someone that you went there, the first thing they ask is, "Did you graduate?"