For the past several years, The Princeton Review has conducted an annual survey of the top party schools in the United States, which prompted a very important question: how can a bunch of Ivy League nerds accurately name the schools that party the hardest? While some of these schools are renowned for their academics in their own right, they’ve got a reputation of a wilder kind to maintain. Does your alma mater make the cut?
25. University of Connecticut – Mansfield, Connecticut
Typically, schools in the Northeast don’t get their fair share of credit when it comes to party schools. After all, the odds are stacked against you if you want to rage. It’s bitterly cold, students are staying in to watch Netflix and chill, but UConn is one school that is starting to make a name for itself. It also doesn’t hurt to have some really great sports teams.
Winning the big game is always a good reason to go out and get festive, and since the Huskies’ women’s and men’s basketball teams are perennial contenders to win March Madness, there are plenty of wins to celebrate. One reputable study asked students about nightlife on campus, and nearly 78% of students interviewed responded that there are consistent parties Wednesday through Saturday.
24. Ohio State University – Columbus, Ohio
More students means more parties! With one of the highest enrollments in the United States at just under 50,000, Ohio State offers plenty of opportunities to let loose. It also helps that the university is a “wet campus”, which means you are able to purchase alcohol legally at school.
Of course, most students are in favor of heading off-campus to get some drinks. High Street is home to some of the best bars in the region, and also has great restaurants to boot. If you find yourself there during a football game, you’d better be wearing the right colors. Sports at OSU draw thousands of fans from all over the state, and feature as a main source of entertainment for Columbus residents and former alumni alike.
23. University of Ohio – Athens, Ohio
There’s something in the water (or in the beer) that makes these students want to rage. It’s always a close race between Athens and Columbus to see who can make the annual list of best party schools, but this year, it would appear the Bobcats have topped the Buckeyes.
In recent years, several fraternities have come under investigation for underage drinking and hazing, but hey, what else is new? School administrations have been trying to put Greek life on double-secret probation since the ’60s. In light of the current events, yearly highlights like Athens’ Halloween Block Party and Spring Fest are still going strong.
22. Florida State University – Tallahassee, Florida
With the added benefit of having year-round warm weather, the Florida schools have another rivalry that doesn’t only square off on the football field; they’re also competing to see who can throw the best parties. But for all those less acquainted with the Sunshine State, Tallahassee is not a place to go if you want to sit under a palm tree at the beach. The city is very much inland.
Instead, you have plenty of restaurants, bars and night clubs surrounding campus if you’re looking to party inside. What’s more, there’s also plenty of wilderness and open space if you prefer to party in nature. Also, one of the top spring break destinations, Panama City, is only a two-hour drive away for those who are itching to get to the coastline.
21. University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California
The University of Southern California is definitely not surrounded by your typical college town. That being said, its location in the heart of Los Angeles does place it next to some of the best nightclubs in the nation. Of course, hitting the LA scene could be out of the question for a broke college student, but we’re assuming if you can afford the $60,000 annual costs to go there, that won’t be an issue.
For those who prefer a traditional college feel, USC does offer a strong Greek system, aided by the donations from wealthy alumni. They also traditionally have great football and basketball teams, so there is plenty to do close to campus. The campus bar, The 9-0, is usually full of students on Saturdays — starting from the early morning.
20. University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa
While some stick-in-the-mud city officials are boasting that drinking is down among students, Iowa City still definitely knows how to party. Offering a mix of on and off-campus parties, Greek life, and a great local bar scene, the Hawkeyes have all their party needs covered.
One unnamed official boasted that only 75% of students reported drinking in the past thirty days, a record low after conducting the survey for several decades. When three-quarters of the student population admit to drinking, it’s safe to say that Iowa City is still one of the best college towns to party in. Of course, it also helps that you can be underage (19) and still get into the bar.
19. Rutgers University – New Brunswick, New Jersey
With a high enrollment and situated in a large urban environment, there’s plenty of things to do at Rutgers, and plenty of people to do them with. Rutgers parties are reportedly some of the most college-y parties around, with those classic plastic red cups, high heels, and short skirts, but there’s also plenty to do off-campus.
Local bar Olde Queens Tavern, which has been open since the 1930s, is reportedly one big frat party disguised as a bar. The city also attracts a solid lineup of musical acts every year as a stopover between Philadelphia and New York. Of course, if you’re looking to escape Jersey and head to the Big Apple, all you need to do is hop on the hour-and-a-half-long ride to New York City’s Penn Station.
18. University of Maryland – College Park, Maryland
When your school’s city has the word “college” in it, you’re already off to a fun start. College Park is a literal fun zone for the 40,000 or so students that go there. Whether you’re a student there or just visiting, there are three places that you need to know about: Turf, Cornerstone, and Bents — the three most popular bars.
Better to arrive to the bars early, however, as all three spots are known to have lines that wrap around the corner. If you’re not 21 yet, there’s always the fraternity parties. With fifteen percent of men and twenty percent of women participating in the fraternity and sorority scene, University of Maryland boasts some of the best Greek life in the country.
17. Indiana University – Bloomington, Indiana
Known for being a great school both academically and socially, Indiana University has one of the most diverse populations in the country, attracting students from the Midwest and the across the US. About forty-six percent of students are from outside the state of Indiana, with all fifty US states and Puerto Rico being represented.
Bloomington’s bars are often ranked as some of the best in the country. One bar, Nick’s English Hut, has been in business since 1927. Of course, being a renowned party school can sometimes have its downside: recently, police have had to respond to reports of several large parties going on while the city is battling the outbreak of COVID-19.
16. The University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Another perennial favorite on the list of top party schools, The University of Alabama in T-town, is one of the most fun schools down South. Of course, not all of that fun is necessarily by the books. In an online review, one former student suggests that new freshmen fork up the $75 for a fake ID, describing it so casually you would think they sell them at the student book store!
For students that are under 21 or perhaps a bit intimidated to get a fake, there’s always on-campus fraternity parties with tons of people and free drinks. Home to over 66 Greek organizations that comprise 35% of the undergraduate student population, UA has some of, if not the, most vibrant Greek life in the country.
15. University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia
Partying is embedded into the history of UGA. The campus dates back to 1785, making it one of the oldest schools in the United States. While school officials would like to focus on their school topping academic lists, the University of Georgia is nearly always included in the discussion when it comes to top party schools.
The campus is surrounded by over a hundred bars to quench the thirst of its nearly 27,000 student enrollment. In the 1950s, one newspaperman described the football game between UGA and the University of Florida as being the ‘world’s largest outdoor cocktail party’ after witnessing fans getting particularly rowdy before the game. To this day, nearly 150,000 fans fill the stadium, arriving at 5AM on Saturday to pregame the big rivalry.
14. University of Texas – Austin, Texas
They say that everything’s bigger in Texas, and the parties are certainly no exception. Aided by a booming population, new businesses, and a killer bar and restaurant scene, students and non-students alike are flocking to Austin, Texas. The party scene also cranked up in recent years thanks to the popular South by Southwest music festival.
With an out of state enrollment of 20%, UT is another campus that boasts representation from all 50 US states. While Greek life may dominate the on-campus social scene, there are plenty of options to turn to over on 6th Street, and an endless amount of cultural activities to do in the city. Local bar 21st Street Co-Op offers BYOB night and sometimes serves up drinks for free.
13. University of Colorado Boulder – Boulder, Colorado
Situated just beneath the Rocky Mountains, the University of Colorado Boulder has long been an academic destination for hippies, skiers, snowboarders, or a combination of all three. Despite the recent cancellation of its massive annual pro-marijuana celebration, which drew thousands of visitors, Boulder still ranks as a top-tier institution for its parties.
Hill Street, famous for its local bars and restaurants, offers students a variety of off-campus party options, as well as off-campus housing, reminiscent of the house parties in Hollywood movies. And while the statewide legalization of marijuana has contributed in part to the decline of Boulder’s once biggest party, it hasn’t stopped A-list acts like Snoop Dogg from making their way to Boulder to perform on April 20th.
12. The University of Florida – Gainesville, Florida
With an enrollment of nearly 60,000 undergraduate students, and football and basketball teams that consistently rank at the top of the SEC, Florida has enough entertainment options to make it close to cracking the top ten on the list of American party schools. When it comes to going out, students typically congregate in three areas: at fraternities, midtown, or downtown.
Downtown is mainly the place to go for clubbing, while midtown and the frats cater more to college parties. Frat parties are usually happening on the weekend, but UF students are quick to point out that you can do something nearly every night of the week. For students who might be having a bit too much fun, Florida officials have implemented a free ride system called Later Gator, which safely transports students and visitors across campus.
11. Wake Forest University – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Typically known for its superb academics, Wake Forest has made a name for itself recently for getting down outside of the classroom. Greek life at Wake reigns supreme, with 50% of girls and 30% of guys joining sororities and fraternities. While the school doesn’t have Greek houses, they have assembled lounges for each organization that are within walking distance from campus.
Fraternities are able to hold parties at their lounges (while sororities cannot). Typically, the fraternity parties have themes; think the toga party scene from Animal House. If there’s nothing happening at the frat lounges, students typically head to the LR or Last Resort, a bar for college students that regularly features $1 draft beers. Can’t beat that!
10. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, Wisconsin
Home to over 40,000 students, Wisconsin’s largest university is also legendary as one of the biggest party schools in the country. For decades, the Wisconsin capital has been home to one of the biggest Halloween parties in the country. The annual FreakFest on State Street attracts exemplary musical talent every year in what has become one of Madison’s most anticipated events of the year.
There are plenty of different locations in Madison to have a different spot to go to each night of the week. University Avenue and State Street each boast their own array of bars and restaurants; along with the slightly more upscale Capital Square, the preferred spot to take a date. Although the parents of incoming freshmen won’t be thrilled to know, there’s a lot more to do in Madison than studying!
9. University of Delaware – Newark, Delaware
When your school’s parties are so infamous that it forces the state to pass legislation specifically banning student-thrown celebrations, you’re deserving of a top ten rating. Back in March 2019, the partying situation at the University of Delaware got so out of hand that several long-time Newark residents lobbied city hall to pass a law prohibiting unruly gatherings.
In spite of the new law, students aren’t really worried that the party scene will be affected. On Choate Street, a popular residence for college students, music and beer start flowing at 11AM most Saturdays, with students party-hopping from house to house. Current top rankings on other lists have UD students basking in their newfound glory. The chant “Number one! Number one!” has become a popular slogan, in reference to their top party school status.
8. Tulane University – New Orleans, Louisiana
It helps add to the allure of the party when your school is located next to one of the most iconic strips of bars in the country. At Tulane, nearly every night of the week has the potential to be its own Mardi Gras. Located just a couple of miles from Bourbon Street, access to adult beverages at Tulane is extremely easy compared to other campuses across the country.
For those looking for kicks a little bit closer to campus, there’s freshman bar The Boot, which has been described as an alternative dormitory, along with Bruno’s Tavern and F&M’s patio bar. For college students, New Orleans is a wonderland of different bars and restaurants offering something new to do every night of the week (which is great, considering that Tulane’s sports are not very competitive).
7. Syracuse University – Syracuse, New York
While parents and school administrators aren’t exactly thrilled about Syracuse’s newfound fame as a party destination, Orangemen and women revel in it. ‘Cuse, which is usually more well-known for its rigorous academics, has changed in recent years, in large part thanks to school-sponsored Mayfest.
Starting in 2012, students started a huge block party to celebrate surviving the harsh winters of upstate New York. Held every year in May, the massive party is capped off by top music acts like 2Chainz, Kesha, and Saba. What’s more, at local bar Faegan’s Pub, if you correctly call a coin flip, the bartender will give you free beer all night. As one of the snowiest cities in the country, Syracuse also offers plenty of opportunity for snow shenanigans.
6. West Virginia University – Morgantown, West Virginia
It helps out your partying situation when you’re in a city that’s in the middle of nowhere, in a state with no direct airport. Can you say college town?! Since there’s not that much to do outside of the campus and immediate surrounding area, the Mountaineers have found a way to unite, with the help of a little bit of some spirits.
Each year, WVU helps to put on an annual music festival called Fallfest, which attracts thousands of students and top music talent. The campus also attracts talented DJs from around the world. And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, one Morgantown bar, Fat Daddy’s, holds the record for most Fireball shots consumed in one night.
5. University of Illinois – Urbana and Champaign, Illinois
University of Illinois’ main campus at Urbana and Champaign has featured prominently on top party school lists over the years. They have consistently competed with Wisconsin-Madison for the top spot in the Midwest region. But when your campus still manages to rage in spite of its lackluster sports teams, it goes to show just how inspired the Fighting Illini are to have a good time.
UICI boasts nine bars on campus in addition to hundreds of options in the surrounding neighborhood. Typical to most college towns, there have been a lot of new bars and restaurants popping up lately. However, one Champaign staple, Kam’s, is still consistently packed with students throughout the week, and last year opened up a new rooftop location.
4. University of Arizona – Tucson, Arizona
When in comes to partying, let’s be honest, West Coast schools reign supreme. Warmer weather means one thing: pool parties. Fear not, for UofA has plenty of them. Aside from awesome off-campus ragers, this school also has nearly mythical tailgating and Greek life.
In 2012, Rolling Stone called Greek life at the University of Arizona the equivalent of a modern-day Animal House. If you’re looking to join a fraternity or sorority, best to do it quick. This school is one of the last beacons of healthy Greek life in the West, but things are changing due to recent investigations that include hazing, misuse of funds, and alcohol infractions. Sounds like anything but a dull time!
3. San Diego State University – San Diego, California
Why not party when you have plenty of reasons to celebrate? At San Diego State University, students enjoy living in one of the most picturesque cities in the entire world. There is superior Greek life at SDSU, and a ton of students to mingle with, since San Diego is home to three major undergraduate universities.
If you’re looking for even more adventure, you can drive a mere 19 miles south and cross the border into Mexico, where — you guessed it — there’s no legal drinking age! In the border towns of Tijuana, Rosarito, and Ensenada, you not only have great beaches and food, but parties and bars catered specifically to the tastes of American college students.
2. University of California, Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, California
Ninety miles north of Los Angeles is the unbelievably beautiful city of Santa Barbara, home to Oprah Winfrey and, at one time, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Nestled in the northern part of the city is Isla Vista, a beachside community with a population of 24,000 — and over 90 percent of them are students! A short jaunt through Isla Vista is like entering an absolute college wonderland.
People can commonly be seen playing beer pong and corn hole in their front yards and doing the occasional two-story beer bong. The school used to be famous for its insane Halloween and summer parties, which are beginning to make a comeback. It’s rumored that Isla Vista consumes 10% of the alcohol in the entire state of California. And if that’s not enough to be number one, then you won’t believe the partying happening at the next school on our list.
1. Arizona State University – Tempe, Arizona
Boasting one of the highest acceptance rates in the country, as well as having one of the highest enrollments, students flock from all over the country to attend ASU knowing that some of the nation’s most epic parties await them. In fact, the Greek parties were so insane that the school decided to destroy the famous fraternity row (and recently rebuilt it).
Destruction of the Greek houses by no means stopped students from partying. Thanks to the heat, nearly all of Tempe’s housing options come with a pool, so apartment complexes that house students turn into day clubs from Wednesday through Sunday. For students’ bar and clubbing needs, there is nearby Mill Avenue, or old-town Scottsdale, which are both full of restaurants and bars catering largely to students.
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