HARRISONBURG — Harrisonburg ranks fifth on a travel magazine’s list of the 20 best college towns in the nation.
Travel + Leisure’s list, officially dubbed “America’s Best College Towns,” was based on votes and input from the magazine’s readers.
The publication said Harrisonburg made the list largely because of “city’s ‘revitalized downtown’ featuring Three Brothers Brewing, Capital Ale House and bike paths.”
City officials, along with private groups and nonprofit organizations, have made a concerted effort over the last decade to breathe new life into the city’s once-thriving downtown, with mostly mixed results.
The campaign has drawn an influx of shops, restaurants, fine arts’ venues and young professionals to downtown. Some parts of the city center, however, remain underused and relatively rundown, and empty storefronts continue to dot portions of the business district.
Still, the effort to renew downtown — and initiatives like the annual fall block party aimed specifically to draw college students and other young people to the city center — has downtown on the upswing.
Burlington, Vt., which features a downtown infused with a funky mix of musicians, artists and professionals and serves as the backdrop to the University of Vermont, ranked first overall.
Four other Virginia cities made the list of “America’s Best College Towns,” including the University of Virginia’s host city, Charlottesville, which came in second nationally. Williamsburg, home to the College of William & Mary, ranked fourth overall. Fredericksburg, which hosts the University of Mary Washington, took the ninth spot, and Lexington, which features both Washington & Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute, rounded out the Virginia entries at No. 14 overall.