Local Atmosphere

Ames, IA
Tuition (in-state)
$19,838 ($7,726)
Admission Difficulty
Very Easy
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3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: Ames is a pretty typical town. It has everything we need, and Des Moines isn't too far if people need a larger city.

4 College Student

Local Atmosphere: Iowa State is a great campus, with great well-known sports to events all around campus and set on a beautiful piece of land, any one should go to campus here.

4 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Ames is a college town. Students make up half of the population here. We take it from 30,000 to 60,000 easily. All athletic events are huge. Recreation at state gym is great! It's definitely small-town shopping, but there are a few cool boutiques. I don't have any interaction with locals.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Basically it's Iowa, not much here. The local are chill. The only real scene would be having to go to Des Moines.

3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: CyRide is awesome and very convenient.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Staci Harper
English/Rhetorical Studies/Speech minor
View all previous student authors

Ames is in a great location. It is small enough to avoid being intimidating and large enough to avoid being boring. It has the charm of the country and the flair of the city. So, if you're looking for a taste of the country, the area just north of Ames is farmland. Those looking for city life will find Des Moines appealing, which is a mere half-hour drive from Ames. Since half the population is composed of college students, there are plenty of things for students to do and see in Ames, and most of it is available at reasonable rates.

Students coming from densely populated areas, such as Chicago, may find Ames to be a boring small town. Ames may also be seen as too strict by many students—the city council passed a ban on putting indoor furniture outside. But students generally make due with what Ames has to offer, and most of the students who attend ISU are generally satisfied with Ames. If aesthetic pleasure is high on your list of priorities, Ames may be the place for you—the town is clean, beautiful, and has a lot to offer for its size. 

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Ames was founded in 1864 by John Blair, who named the town after his friend, Oakes Ames, who never lived in the town.
  2. Ames has more than 32 city parks.
Notable Natives
  • George Washington Carver – inventor
  • Ted Kooser – poet laureate
  • Jane Smiley – American novelist
  • Evan Stone – pornographic actor
Points of Interest
  • Ames Historical Society
  • Ames Public Library
  • Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
  • City Hall
  • Furman Aquatic Center
  • Iowa Arboretum
  • Octagon Center for the Arts
  • Old Town Historic District
  • Story City Antique Carousel
Shopping Centers
  • North Grand Mall
  • Southridge Mall
  • Valley West Mall
Movie Theaters
Cinemark Movies 12
1317 Buckeye Ave.
(515) 232-5066
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Des Moines, Iowa: : 45 minutes
  • Minneapolis: : 3 hours, 20 minutes
Did You Know?
Kate Austen, a character from ABC's "Lost," lived in Ames.

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 118 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 119 responses

  • 2% Painfully remote.
  • 13% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 16% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 60% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 10% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 119 responses

  • 29% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 30% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 40% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 118 responses

  • 28% No way.
  • 58% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 14% Totally.



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