Local Atmosphere

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

Local Atmosphere: There is always something to do at Iowa State. They really do have the best college life for everyone to enjoy.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: It is the best decision I have ever made.

4 College Senior

Local Atmosphere: There's a lot to do in Ames. There are plenty of places to eat, a few little niche shops and a few bigger shops at the mall. I don't think I've ever been bored while living in Ames.

4 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: I would definitely choose to stay after graduation. There are many different places to shop. The attitudes of the people in the community is positive towards college students, in my experience. There are a few attractions. The sports of the college give many activities for people of the town to attend.

3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: Ames is a small town, so outside of school there isn't a ton to do unless you have a car and can travel to Des Moines or other towns.


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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 131 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 126 responses

  • 2% Painfully remote.
  • 13% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 17% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 58% 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 126 responses

  • 29% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 29% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 41% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 126 responses

  • 28% No way.
  • 59% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 13% Totally.



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