University is a time to learn, prepare for your career, and explore your interests. If you love being on the water, then choose a college that allows you to spend your weekends doing exactly that. Luckily, there are many U.S. towns where students can enjoy weekends boating, snorkeling, sailing and much more. Add these institutions to your list of schools to look at and maybe even apply to.
Check out: Whatcom Community College
Water Activity: Sailing
This quiet seaside town is just an hour from bustling Seattle and boasts a breezy, bohemian vibe, ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and free-spirits who prefer a relaxed pace of living. The San Juan Island chain is visible from land, and if you want to explore the archipelago, charter and guided instruction sailing tours are available.
Cruise the Pacific inlets beside orca whales as you learn how to operate a sailboat, then once you’ve reached the islands, spend an afternoon hiking nature trails, meandering the beaches or enjoying fresh-caught seafood. Check out TripAdvisor’s highest rated picks if you want to get involved in sailing during your time at the school or look into the college’s aquatic sports and activities that may be available to you for free.
Check out: Florida International University
Water Activity: Charter Fishing
Tucked between Pensacola and Destin in the northwest Florida panhandle, this unassuming but scenic retreat is located minutes away from world-class beaches and waterfront amenities.
One such pastime that keeps both locals and tourists entertained year-round is charter deep sea fishing, and with a campus in such close proximity to the ocean, there’s no shortage of opportunities to grab that rod and reel. Even if you’re a novice to the sport, charter fishing is a unique, memorable and thrilling experience that’s intrinsic to the Florida lifestyle.
If you’re visiting the Niceville area, and this sounds like your idea of fun, check out the “first-timer” fishing tips from Charter Fishing Destin and start planning the next four years!
Check out: St. Michael’s College
Water Activity: Scuba Diving
Just 90 miles outside New York City, located on the shores of Lake Champlain, St. Michael’s and the nearby town of Burlinton, Vermont have all the charm of a bustling town without the noise and crime. It was also ranked a premier destination for outdoor activities by Travel + Leisure, among other publications, thanks to lakeside recreation.
However, most people don’t associate the state of Vermont with one of one its most popular past-times: scuba diving. Forget coral reefs in the Caribbean—Lake Champlain is home to shipwrecks, some with their cargo still intact more than a century later. Students can head to the Waterfront Diving Center for lessons and to get certified.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Check out: Study Texas
Water Activity: Kayaking
On its own pristine island, surrounded by palm tree-lined sidewalks, the temperate coastal weather and biodiverse water channels that make this region a “mecca for kayakers.” From salt and fresh waters to shallow marshes and brackish coves, there are multiple kayaking options to choose from.
One of the most picturesque loops is around the Corpus Christi Bay, a sub-tropic estuary where you can spot nearly 230 species of fish and more than 490 species of birds. If you’re visiting Corpus Christi, and a kayaking expedition is on the bucket-list, Paddling.com is a useful resource to narrow down the local-recommended routes.
Check out: ESL Language Centers
Water Activity: Surfing
When you think of the Midwest, surf culture probably doesn’t come to mind, but this vibrant and eclectic town, which is home to largest body of freshwater on earth, is breaking conventions.
Overlooking Lake Superior’s choppy North Shore, both students and tourists can be found catching the swells near Park Point despite frigid temperatures, sometimes dropping to 15 degrees F below zero. As you can tell, Minnesota surf is not for the faint-of-heart and different from anywhere else in the country.
Get Ready for Epic Weekends
Don’t forget about the things you want to spend your time doing when looking at schools. It’s easy to focus only on academics, but many waterfront college towns provide both aqua adventures and great schooling, allowing you to get the best of both worlds. Add these schools to your “must visit” list and see if any of them would be a good fit for you.
Jessica Thiefels is the editor of Whooo’s Reading and an education blogger, who’s been featured on such as PBS, TeachHub and CollegeRaptor and more. She’s been out of college longer than she’d like to admit, but still uses tricks like these to stay sharp in her career. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more tips, tricks and ideas.