America's Five Best Football Towns - Page 2

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University of Texas Football
University of Texas Football  (Randall Chancellor/Flickr)

Ann Arbor, Michigan
It’s not called the “Big House” for nothing. The country’s largest football stadium—nearly 110,000 seats—belongs to the University of Michigan. If you build it, they will come—and Wolverine fans wearing the school’s distinctive maize and blue fill cavernous Michigan Stadium to capacity on football Saturdays. Happily for non-football fans, the leafy small city of Ann Arbor is one of the Midwest’s most charming destinations. The University lies in the tree-shaded downtown, where visitors can stroll, shop, poke around art galleries, or hit the food markets in the nearby historic Kerrytown District. Be sure to tour the gorgeous U-M campus—with the roar of the Wolverines football crowd a thrilling soundtrack to your stroll.

Austin, Texas
To tell the truth, it seems as if the entire state of Texas is a little football nuts, from Cowboys fans in Dallas to the Aggies of Texas A&M. But when you combine a big football university like the University of Texas with a true destination city like Austin, it’s win-win all around. Game day at the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium sees a sea of orange and white—nearly 100,000 screaming fans on hand to cheer the Longhorns to victory. Fans are so loyal, in fact, that the University consistently ranks at or near the top in sales of fan merchandise. Whether you’re a football fan or not, Austin welcomes all with a small-town congeniality and big-city music, food, and cultural offerings. You can dance the night away in a downtown honky-tonk, go tubing in a swimming hole, or swoon over Tex-Mex culinary classics.

South Bend, Indiana
It’s hard to beat Notre Dame for storied athletic programs—why, one of the country’s first football superstars, Knute Rockne, played and coached here nearly a century ago. The Fighting Irish have long been a team worth celebrating, with a whopping 12 national championships, 7 Heisman Trophy winners, and countless All-Americans. (It has also been home to the College Football Hall of Fame, although in 2013, it’s up and moving to Atlanta.) The navy-and-gold sensibility saturates this little Indiana football town, built on a “bend” in the St. Joseph River, but the cultural landscape is equally impressive. South Bend has a museum of art, the Morris Performing Arts Center (built in 1922), a lauded chamber music competition, and a civic theater—not to mention the Studebaker National Museum, honoring the company that helped build South Bend.

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