Studded with some magnificent homes and charming shops, Evanston is pretty as can be. But it’s the private university founded here in 1851 by town namesake John Evans that puts it on the map. Northwestern's sprawling campus hugs Lake Michigan, and strolling around the ivy-covered walls while listening to the sounds of waves hitting the shore is delightful. The campus is home to highly regarded undergraduate and graduate schools (the Medill School of Journalism and Kellogg School of Management among them) as well as the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, which has more than 4,000 works in its permanent collection. Northwestern's Big Ten athletics program draws a mix of students and locals to games, especially when the Wildcats football team play at Ryan Field.