Local Area

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Local Area


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5 College Freshman

Local Area: Ames is THE BEST college town. Everything is centered around the college and it's very accommodating to students.

3 College Junior

Local Area: I just don't like that you have topay to park anywhere near the school.

3 College Junior

Local Area: Ames has a lot of interesting things to do off campus like downtown but all in all it is a college town.

3 College Freshman

Local Area: There are plenty of local shops to visit that are close to campus but for the most part, there are not that many places to go (other than bars I suppose, but I have never been to one). The local shopping mall is small and generally not particularly good.

3 College Junior

Local Area: Ames is really spread out but has more diversity and shopping centers than other small towns.


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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 155 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 156 responses

  • 8% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.
  • 61% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 17% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 11% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 3% Painfully remote.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 156 responses

  • 39% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.
  • 29% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 31% There aren't any nearby schools.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 156 responses

  • 12% Totally.
  • 56% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 31% No way.



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