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Ranking Big 12 college towns from worst to first

Many different factors go into which college towns reign supreme.

Boulder, Colorado, for example, is an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts, as you can either hit the ski slopes or take a hike.

There are no wrong choices. No matter where you go, you can find a unique experience that will entertain you before, during or after a game.

But again, there are many factors to consider when picking your next destination. Do you like small towns or big cities? Are you looking for nightlife activities or are you traveling with kids? Do you prefer warm or cold weather? And, of course, which types of food do you love?

You’ll get a good grasp of my preferences below as I rank each Big 12 college town from worst to first:

Waco, Texas (Baylor)

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images for IRONMAN)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

City population (2021): 139,594

Restaurant to visit: George’s

While Waco stands at the bottom of my ranking, I’ll admit that the city has some strong restaurants, including George’s.

Houston, Texas (Houston)

(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

City population (2021): 2,288,000

Restaurant to visit: Bar-A-BBQ

My opinion of Houston is based on my experience trying to walk downtown in the middle of June. Heat and humidity in a big city are not for me, but there are some awesome stadiums and experiences to enjoy in H-Town.

Orlando, Florida (Central Florida)

Syndication: USA TODAY
Syndication: USA TODAY

City population (2021): 309,154

Restaurant to visit: Bahama Breeze

My dislike for heat/humidity is also why Orlando is so low. However, there’s plenty of fun stuff to do in Orlando. The dual attractions of Disney World and Universal Studios make for a great trip.

Tuscon, Arizona (Arizona)

(Photo by REBECCA NOBLE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by REBECCA NOBLE/AFP via Getty Images)

City population (2021): 543,242

Restaurant to visit: ATL Wings

Maybe I’ll retire to Arizona one day. But for now, I will stay in the cold and love every minute of it. Fourth Avenue is a must-stop for anyone visiting the campus.

Salt Lake City, Utah (Utah)

Syndication: The Spectrum
Syndication: The Spectrum

City population (2021): 200,478

Restaurant to visit: Wildwood

For Salt Lake City, think of Denver but smaller and worse skiing (for all our Utah rivals). However, Gardner Village is the place to be on game days.

Fort Worth, Texas (TCU)

Syndication: The Des Moines Register
Syndication: The Des Moines Register

City population (2021): 935,308

Restaurant to visit: Goldee’s BBQ

Shockingly, only about 10,000 students attend TCU. Texas knows how to show out for football games and Frog Alley is the place to be on fall Saturdays.

Tempe, Arizona (Arizona State)

Syndication: Arizona Republic
Syndication: Arizona Republic

City population (2021): 184,118

Restaurant to visit: Ghost Ranch

ASU has a reputation for being one of the biggest party schools in the nation. While my partying days have largely passed me by, Tempe reminds me of the Toby Keith song, “As Good as I Once Was.” If you ever see me in Tempe: “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.”

Cincinnati, Ohio (Cincinnati)

Syndication: The Enquirer
Syndication: The Enquirer

City population (2021): 308,935

Restaurant to visit: Camp Washington Chili

Cincinnati has a reputation for being affordable while providing a great quality of life, so it ranks highest among the conference’s big cities. Small towns will always have the edge in my eyes, though.

Manhattan, Kansas (Kansas State)

Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal
Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal

City population (2021): 54,763

Restaurant to visit: Tallgrass Tap House

The Little Apple sure knows how to get fans ready for game day when the band plays “Wabash Cannonball.” There is also a handy K-State website that provides you with pregame recipes to make at your next tailgate.

Ames, Iowa (Iowa State)

Syndication: The Des Moines Register
Syndication: The Des Moines Register

City population (2021): 66,424

Restaurant to visit: Provisions Lot F

The Ames Haunted Forest has me excited and scared to experience game day in Ames. It has a reputation for providing a tremendous pregame atmosphere.

Lawrence, Kansas (Kansas)

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

City population (2021): 95,256

Restaurant to visit: Ladybird Diner

One look at the picture above shows why Lawrence, and its citizens’ constant chanting of “Rock Chalk Jayhawk,” owns the reputation of being one of the best college towns in the country. Fans show up and show out for their teams at KU.

Stillwater, Oklahoma (Oklahoma State)

Syndication: The Des Moines Register
Syndication: The Des Moines Register

City population (2021): 48,134

Restaurant to visit: The Ranchers Club

There are plenty of pregame activities in Stillwater, including concerts and pep rallies that are sure to attract a majority of the town’s small population.

Provo, Utah (BYU)

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

City population (2021): 114,084

Restaurant to visit: Black Sheep Cafe

LaVell Edwards Stadium’s beautiful backdrop combined with a rabid fanbase has me excited to visit Provo.

Lubbock, Texas (Texas Tech)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

City population (2021): 260,993

Restaurant to visit: Cast Iron Grill

Despite Lubbock’s population being too large for my liking, Raider Alley and the Raider Walk have me wanting to check out this Texas city next time the Buffaloes visit.

Morgantown, West Virginia (West Virginia)

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

City population (2021): 29,219

Restaurant to visit: Bacon, Bourbon & Beer

We are safely inside small-town territory again. Most pictures of Morgantown show off its beautiful views, making the small town a must-visit in my humble opinion.

Boulder, Colorado (Colorado)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

City population (2021): 104,175

Restaurant to visit: Wild Pastures Burger Company

We all knew this was coming. Bias aside, there are reasons why Boulder is always mentioned among the country’s best college towns. From some of the best views you’ll see on the planet to must-stop attractions such as Pearl Street, Boulder offers something for all visiting fans.

Story originally appeared on Buffaloes Wire