En­joy the vibe in these col­lege foot­ball towns

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Spotlight - BY LYNN O'ROURKE HAYES Fam­i­lyTravel.com

You don’t have to be present for game day to ap­pre­ci­ate the en­thu­si­as­tic am­bi­ence of a great foot­ball town. Here are five places that may ap­peal to the sports fans in your fam­ily:

1. ANN ARBOR, MICH.

It’s all about the maize and blue in a com­mu­nity where the Univer­sity of Michi­gan Wolver­ines cap­ture the town’s at­ten­tion every fall. Those lucky enough to snag tick­ets to the “Big House,” as the 100,000plus-seat sta­dium is called, will revel in the sweet smell of bar­be­cue as fans fire up their grills be­fore the game. While in town, check out the lo­cal farm­ers mar­ket, en­joy break­fast at Zinger­man’s, a lo­cal fan fa­vorite, and visit the botan­i­cal gar­den. Stay at the clev­erly ren­o­vated and cen­trally lo­cated Grad­u­ate Ho­tel, where you’ll ap­pre­ci­ate the clas­sic col­le­giate in­spi­ra­tion and the nod to lo­cal his­tory and tra­di­tion. Con­tact:www.vis­i­tan­nar­bor.org; www.grad­u­ate­ho­tels.com/ann-arbor/

LOS AN­GE­LES

It’s fun to take in a spir­ited col­lege foot­ball game in a sta­dium that is also brim­ming with Olympic his­tory. The Coli­seum, home to the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Tro­jans, has twice hosted the world event and in re­mem­brance, has in­te­grated the light­ing of the torch rit­ual into every home game. Be­fore the start of the fourth quar­ter, the Tro­jan rider and the USC mas­cot, a ma­jes­tic white horse named Trav­eler, ride onto the field, ac­com­pa­nied by the band’s ren­di­tion of the Wil­liam Tell Over­ture. On the rider’s com­mand, the torch is lit and play re­sumes. From the Harry Pot­ter fun at Univer­sal Stu­dios to the Getty Cen­ter, Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall and Star­line tours, the beaches and hik­ing in the hills, there is no short­age of fam­ily fun in the L.A. area. Con­tact: www.dis­cov­er­losan­ge­les.com.

BOISE, IDAHO

The Idaho cap­i­tal city, named by French-Cana­dian fur trap­pers, is a dy­namic des­ti­na­tion known for a plethora of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, a thriv­ing culi­nary scene and an en­thu­si­as­tic fan base that comes out in force to sup­port the Boise State Bron­cos. You’ll want to ride bikes or stroll along the wooded Boise River, where a scenic green­belt pro­vides recre­ational ac­cess for vis­i­tors and lo­cals. On game day, “Smurf Turf,” the ar­ti­fi­cial blue play­ing field at Al­bert­sons Sta­dium, is cen­ter stage for the sport­ing ac­tion. The unique blue sur­face, the brain­child of ath­letic di­rec­tor Gene Bley­maier, was in­tro­duced in the 1980s and con­tin­ues to set the venue apart. Con­tact: www.Boise.org

COLUM­BUS, OHIO

Along the shores of the Olen­tangy River, Buck­eye fever rises to red-hot as fans pre­pare for the an­nual ri­valry with the Michi­gan Wolver­ines. For every home game, ex­pect tailgate par­ties around The Horse­shoe, as the sta­dium is known, and en­thu­si­as­tic sup­port for The Ohio State March­ing Band Skull Ses­sion, a pregame mu­sic fest. Later the band fa­mously spells out O-h-i-o on the field, and on rare oc­ca­sion re­serves the op­tion to “dot the I” with an hon­ored Colum­bus res­i­dent or alum. While in town, visit the world­fa­mous Colum­bus Zoo; COSI, the Cen­ter of Sci­ence and In­dus­try, and ex­plore the his­toric Ger­man Vil­lage. You’ll find a bur­geon­ing art, culi­nary and fash­ion scene. Con­tact: www.ex­pe­ri­encecolum­bus.com.

YOUR SPORTSTOWN

Do you or some­one in your fam­ily have a sports tra­di­tion to share? Take the kids to your own high school or col­lege home­com­ing game and take a stroll down mem­ory lane. Wear the school col­ors and sing the old fight song. Re­visit your fa­vorite haunts, re­call the taste treats, mu­sic or other de­tails that have made the mem­ory stick. Head on to cam­pus and re­visit your class­room time and share what you learned along the way.

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