Leaf Your Way Through This List of Colleges

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Colleges seem to epitomize autumn. Here are five smart institutes, not far from Washington, where you can get your color and culture fix.

· Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The leafy campus is in the picturesque Hudson River Valley. Off-campus, there's horseback riding, hiking, boating, hot-air ballooning and two drive-in movie theaters, open through October.

Details: Vassar College, 845-437-7000, http://www.vassar.edu; Dutchess County Tourism, 800-445-3131, http://www.dutchesstourism.com.

· Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

The tree-thick campus features a mix of Victorian Gothic and neo-Gothic buildings with more-modern structures designed by the likes of I.M. Pei. The collegiate downtown features the historic Yankee Doodle Tap Room, named after the Norman Rockwell painting that hangs behind the bar.

Details: Princeton University, 609-258-3000, http://www.princeton.edu; Princeton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, 609-924-1776, http://www.visitprinceton.org.

· University of Virginia, Charlottesville

U-Va. is the only university in the country to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town is both historic and hip, especially along its downtown pedestrian mall. Nearby: wineries and Monticello.

Details: Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, 877-386-1103, http://www.pursuecharlottesville.com.

· Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa.

Founded in 1885 in a valley sheltered by the Nittany Mountains, Penn State offers cultural events set amid farms and orchards. Just outside town: the Stone Valley Recreation Area, 29 miles of wooded trails and picnic areas.

Details: Penn State University, http://www.psu.edu; Centre County/Penn State Visitor Center, 800-358-5466, http://www.centralpacvb.org.

· St. Mary's College of Maryland, St. Mary's City

St. Mary's College has the best of all views, thanks to its location on a tree-lined waterfront. The Maryland town is a charming font of 17th-century American history, with antiques shopping a sidelight.

Details: St. Mary's College, 240-895-2000, http://www.smcm.edu; St. Mary's County Division of Tourism, 800-327-9023, http://www.co.saint-marys.md.us/tourism.

-- C.L.

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