Welcome to Iowa City
The youthful, artsy vibe here is courtesy of the University of Iowa campus, home to good art and natural-history museums. It spills across both sides of the Iowa River (which has good walks on the banks); to the east it mingles with the charming downtown. In summer (when the student-to-townie ratio evens out), the city mellows somewhat. The school's writing programs are renowned, and Iowa City was named a Unesco City of Literature in 2008. For a sharp parody of the town and school, read Jane Smiley's Moo.