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Iowa State University

Brimming with cafés, parks, live music venues and sports arenas, make your home in leafy Ames and you’ll never want to leave

Frequently topping lists of best places to live and the best college town in America, it’s not hard to see what’s so good about living in Ames. From its 36 parks to friendly locals, cool eateries and an abundance of live music and sports venues, you’ll feel right at home in this lively little city.

In between classes, head to Campustown, right next to Iowa State University. Sit on a reclaimed wood seat while you sip a latte at hip Arcadia Cafė, then get your hair snipped at All Cuts Hair Care & Retail. If you don’t have to rush back to your studies, wander through the butterfly pavilion at Reiman Gardens or spot the resident swans on Lake Laverne. Later, tuck into Brazilian feijoada while you watch a soccer match on TV at Café Beaudelaire, then catch a musical at the Stephens Auditorium. On the weekend, join the crowds cheering on the State Cyclones football team at the Jack Trice Stadium.

When you want to venture further afield - and it’d be a shame not to - cross Squaw Creek to get to the cultural hang outs of Main Street. Check out paintings and modern art installations at the Octagon Center for the Arts, and even learn how to draw or take photos yourself. Hit the books at the Ames Public Library, then catch live music in the open air at next door Bandshell Park. Hunt through vintage clothes and knick knacks at Random Goods Resale and Costume Shop, then when you’ve worked up a thirst, meet friends or get stuck into homework while you slurp a smoothie at cozy Café Diem.