American colleges have a plethora of new and exciting experiences available. Campus life can be complex, entertaining, and incredibly rewarding with vastly unique activities that vary from campus to campus across the United States. While many choose a university solely based on academics, taking into account the extracurricular activities that are available through the recreation center can help make the selection of your academic home an easier prospect.
Many colleges offer recreation center entertainment such as movie nights, comedy shows, and live performances to enhance campus life while some others offer a place to relax and socialize with fellow students. Some campus recreation centers focus more on fitness and sports like indoor basketball and track while others concentrate on outdoor activities that integrate the university’s immediate surroundings with activities like fishing and rock climbing. Here is a list of the top college recreation centers in the United States outlined with some of the features that make them great.
35. St. Mary's College of California
Educating the mind, body, and the spirit are an important part of any college student’s life. The Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center located at Saint Mary’s College of California is not a traditional fitness center; it is a place where members of the student community can gather to socialize, join in recreational sports, or even take part in a study group. There are three full-sized gymnasiums that feature basketball, indoor soccer, volleyball, and badminton as well as a fully equipped fitness area. There is even a rock climbing wall for those who like to experience more extreme sports. The aquatic center has pools with diving boards as well as a hydrotherapy spa to ease away the daily tension of student life. If you are looking to relax and socialize with other students, there are large patio areas that are fully equipped with juice and a snack bar.
33. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is home to one of the luxurious fitness centers on the entire east coast. The David Pottruck Health and Fitness Center is a four-story facility that is complete with top of the line fitness equipment, basketball courts, exercise studios, a climbing wall, and an Olympic-sized pool. Individual and group fitness courses are offered to students, which include activities such as dance, martial arts, and golf. Aqua fitness is also an available option that incorporates yoga, dance, and other cardio techniques with low impact water movements. Once your workout is complete, take advantage of a chair or a table massage in the massage studio. As an additional bonus, The Energy Zone is located in the atrium of the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center. Here you can find fresh fruit, smoothies, energy drinks, and protein bars to fulfill your workout needs.
- The Hecht Tennis Center features eight indoor tennis courts (Open daily)
- Students have to classes and individual workout opportunities in the pilates studio
- BuWebsite: Penn Recreation llet Point 2
32. University of Texas - Pan American
The Department of Wellness and Recreational Sports at the University of Texas-Pan American is dedicated to promoting holistic growth and active lifestyles for the students. They provide dynamic fitness programs that focus on both team training and individual fitness goals. Also, the department also organizes community events and walks to help charities and people in need. Aquatics are of great importance at the University of Texas-Pan American, so it is of no surprise that there are both indoor and outdoor swimming facilities for the students to enjoy. The indoor pools are heated lap pools that are complete with diving boards. The Outdoor Aquatic facilities also have a lap pool, but these pools cater to the casual swimmer who may like to lounge in a leisure pool, relax in a lazy river, or socialize in the comforts of a Jacuzzi.
- The center features a marked for indoor soccer (This area can also be used for volleyball and basketball)
- Studnets also have access to three indoor racquetball courts with viewing area
- Wellness & Recreation Sports Complex
31. University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay is not all fun and games. The Kress Event Center is dedicated to providing competitive activities for athletes and the casual student body alike. Fitness classes are available that range anywhere from hula hooping to Pilates and yoga combined, which is also known as PiYo. For those students who take fitness more seriously, personal trainers are available on a daily basis. The Kress Center is complete with a full aerobic studio, a 26-foot climbing tower, an indoor turf gym, and an Olympic-sized lap pool. For those who enjoy competition with their fitness regimen, the Kress Center offers different basketball and volleyball courts as well as football and soccer fields. Also, badminton, ultimate Frisbee, trench ball, kickball, and even wallyball can be found in the extensive daily schedule of events.
- Outdoor facilities also include a football field, 2 softball diamonds and 4 soccer fields
- Over 15 various intermural sports run out of the Kress Center including trenchball and pool battleship
- Website: Kress Events Center
30. University of North Dakota
The Student Wellness Center at the University of North Dakota offers a plethora of fitness and activity based events. Starting with the nearly ubiquitous rock wall, prospective climbers can improve their skills through concentrated belay training and improve their balance through slacklining. In fact, the university even offers “Cosmic Climbing” which is complete with black lights and glow-in-the-dark holds. Every year the trails behind the Wellness Center transform into the perfect environment for cross country skiing. Another annual event is the Green Gallop Homecoming Run, a 10k race that winds along the English Coulee through campus and past the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Health and Wellness Center also offers fast and healthy cooking options at the culinary corner, and even provides a demonstration area for those students who wish to improve their food preparation skills.
29. University of Wyoming
Staying fit at the University of Wyoming can be a difficult task, particularly during the harsh Wyoming winter months. The Wellness Center at the University recently underwent a multimillion dollar renovation which gives the student body a myriad of various activities to help maintain fitness. Aquatics are one of the primary focuses of the Wellness Center. The new half-acre pool allows for aquatic exercise classes, recreational swimming, and personal swim training. During milder weather, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, and backpacking are all offered for outgoing members of the student body. To ensure the safety of the students during these outdoor adventures, preparation and safety courses are also available. Skiing and ice climbing experiences come into play and provide much-needed winter activities to the student body.
- Students have access to Poke's Spokes Bike Library for rentals and programming
- The Outdoor Leadership Development features in class and backcountry competency.
- Website: Campus Recreation Center
28. University of Chicago
Athletics and fitness are an excellent way to enrich the lives of any student community; therefore, the campus recreation center at the University of Chicago endeavors to attain student enrichment by providing as many competitive physical and mental challenges as possible to the student body. Activities offered at the university run the gamut of team sports, such as basketball, kickball, and flag football, but also include rarer physical activities like inner tube water polo, bowling, and even broomball. Less physical, more mentally challenging activities are also available, including billiards, chess, and spades. The University of Chicago is also a participant in the FitChicago program, and a result many fitness-oriented activities are available to students. Each academic quarter features an ever-changing list of fitness-themed activities, including step aerobics, kickboxing, cardio boot camp, Zumba dance, and water aerobics.
- The $51 million facility features over 150,000 square feet of fitness space
- The Henry Crown Field house features multiple indoor fields, including a 200-meter track
- Website: Ratner Athletic Facility
27. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University opened the doors to a new recreation and wellness center in 2014. This recreation center includes an eight-lane running track, international standard squash courts, and an extra large space for weight training and aerobics. Competitions are held which help students achieve personal fitness goals and dance classes are provided in a plethora of styles, including Salsa, Swing, Ballroom, and Hip Hop. Recently added to the university’s calendar of events is “Walking Wednesdays” which encourages the student body to use hump day to join a group fitness coordinator on a 30-minute brisk walk around the campus grounds, rain or shine. Afterwards, students can stop by the campus’s nutrition corner for cooking demonstrations and healthy eating options. For students seeking entertainment, the recreation center also hosts musician’s night throughout the semester, and “Rec Fest” each fall, which features tournament games and events like sack races, battleship in the pool, and indoor campouts.
26. University of Alabama – Birmingham
The Campus Recreation Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham focusing on fitness as well as group based adventure programs. Fitness classes include yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and core strengthening instruction. For the post-workout, massage and aroma therapies are also offered to the student body. Teambuilding events, which help create a sense of community among the students, are also provided by the university. These teambuilding activities include trolley races, blind gauntlet runs, wall scaling obstacle courses, and bridge challenges. There are also day trips designed to appease your sense of adventure, such as white water kayaking trips or cave expeditions where climbing and rappelling are required to progress. The Campus Recreation Center also hosts nightly events such as wiffleball tournaments, game nights, and climbing competitions. During the month of March, basketball championship night invites all students and faculty to the Bartow Arena to join in “March Mayhem” basketball contests.
- Students can participate in the TRIP series heading to locations like the Grand Canyon or the Smoky Mountain National Parks
- The indoor track features fantastic panoramic campus views
- Website: UAB Campus Recreation
25. California State University – Fullerton
The California State University at Fullerton is committed to enriching its student’s daily lives through fitness and a comprehensive activity program. Its Titan Recreation program includes varied activities like power yoga, Zumba, a total body fitness program, and the recreation center’s own, titan cycle. Cross training is also available for those who want a more specialized, more rigorous workout. Fullerton also employs several fitness trainers to ensure that the student body receives individualized attention when it comes to staying in shape. Intramural sports are also made readily available to students, with basketball, baseball, and football leagues all being available to those who wish to participate. For students who want to test and improve their physical endurance, both performance swimming, and group fitness boot camps are offered on campus. As is becoming more popular in college recreation centers, Fullerton also boasts a fully functional and challenging rock wall.
- Convenient drop-in class schedules for students
- Students are invited to participate in seasonal programming including the 100 Mile Swim Challenge and Fight the 15!
- Website: Titan Recreation Recreation
24. University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati boasts two very different recreation centers on its campus. Intramural registration is available for basketball, volleyball, and racquetball, each team being entered into league play which spans the semester. The University of Cincinnati also offers several martial arts programs, which include boxing, karate, Muay Thai, and MMA kickboxing. For those looking for something a little less high impact, dancing, advanced yoga, aquatics, and group fitness are all offered to the student body. UC is dedicated to helping its students find a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, and has instituted the “Healthy U” program. The goal of this program is to promote healthy standards among the student body by connecting them with one another to ensure an active, competition-free lifestyle. The University of Cincinnati also provides fitness services for children in the community to perpetuate a healthy lifestyle as they grow.
- Dance programming including: Bollywood, African and Evolution of Bey styles
- Specialized nutrition counseling available to all students
- Website: UC Campus Recreation
23. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota’s University Recreation and Wellness program provides all of the tools its students need in order to ensure healthy campus life. Programs like, “Women & Weights”, “Twelve Week Weight Loss”, and the “Tri-U-Mah” indoor triathlon, help emphasize this university’s commitment to its student’s wellness. For those more interested in team sports, the University of Minnesota also offers a varied intramural program which includes both men and women’s leagues as well as co-recreation leagues that all compete across the entire semester. During the wintry months, skiing is offered, both cross country and groomed trails are options that the students will find available. The university also offers sports clubs that range from aikido and kung fu clubs to clubs that specialize in ballroom dancing and water polo. Two pool areas, the Minneapolis Pools and the Saint Paul Pool, provide a plethora of aquatics programs that are designed to engage students.
20. Indiana State University
Indiana State University’s Recreational Sports Program has varied features and programs for all of its large student body. Spread across the Student Recreation Center, the Health and Human Services Arena, and several outdoor facilities, students have a sensible choice when it comes to maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. The student recreation center boasts wet classrooms, which are dedicated to aquatics like water aerobics and lifeguarding. Indiana State University also has facilities established for indoor soccer, floor hockey, and martial arts programs. The Human Services Arena contains a full sized tennis court, racquetball courts, and a 25-yard pool. A climbing wall and a jogging track are available for those looking for a full body workout. The university’s outdoor facilities also contain something for everyone; another full sized tennis court, two well-lit softball fields, and Wolf Field, which includes areas for basketball, sand volleyball, and even a sheltered picnic area.
- The new $21.7 million facility includes an elevated track for running/jogging and a 22-person hot tub
- Students can also enjoy the new juice bar with healthier snack options and wi-fi
- Website: Indiana State Student Recreation
19. University of Arizona
Celebrated as a school where sports like basketball are university institutions, the University of Arizona boasts a stellar athletic program that is enhanced by its Student Recreation Center. The structure contains three full basketball courts, an Olympic-sized pool, and a state of the art weight room. Intramurals are also a very popular offering at the University of Arizona, and there are several leagues in the rotation, ranging from ultimate Frisbee to spike ball. Several activities that take advantage of the local area are also available, such as wilderness yoga, hiking Pichacho Peak, canoeing through the Colorado River, and even scuba diving lessons. For those who want to become active in a group setting, there are several opportunities for students. Some of a unique class options include tai-chi chuan instruction, acoustic guitar courses, aikido classes, and beginner ballet.
- UA Students are eligible to participate in bike share programs
- Students can join the Challenge Program. This program focuses on goal setting, leadership and personal growth
- Website: University of Arizona Rec Center
17. Northeastern University
Northeastern University has a stellar program when it comes to campus recreation. This school possesses a wide variety of activities for students to take part in, even in the harsh Boston winters. Personal trainers are available to help students with their fitness goals, and group learning is also available for students who feel more comfortable working out in a classroom setting. Some of a unique instructional programs include Tae Kwon Do, vinyasa yoga, capoeira, and even hip-hop dance classes. Club sports, aquatics, and intramurals are also available for students to utilize across the entire semester. For those interested in a more outdoor experience, the school’s Downhillers Club and the Northeastern University Huskies Outing Club (NUHOC), which is one of the Northeast’s oldest recognized student organizations; both offer recreational options that are designed to satisfy easily the most outdoorsy appetite.
16. Texas State University
The Department of Campus Recreation at Texas State University has a myriad of facilities and services that make an active campus life easily attainable. All the standbys exist such as an active intramural program, superb club sports, and excellent aquatics programs, but Texas State University also offers an exceptional rock climbing center and is one of the few schools actually to offer a dedicated boxing studio. The school also features boot camps for those looking for intense physical training as well as the ultra efficient TRX suspension training. The school also possesses an extensive golf course for those looking to tee off and extend their active lifestyle to the beautiful greens. Free stroke and water safety courses are also available to the student body.
15. University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is lucky to be located in such a beautiful area, a place where the Campus Recreation Center can incorporate outdoor recreation into student fitness and well-being. Swimmers will love the aquatic option of an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool as well as scuba instructions that will eventually lead you to an expedition in the Blue Grotto. The campus is home to a mile-long fitness trail that incorporates outdoor exercise stations though out the length of the path. There is also a rope course to encourage teamwork amongst the student body while engaging in a challenging activity. Riverfront Park allows students to enjoying the Florida wildlife in its natural environment while also offering a relaxing place to socialize with fellow students. Activities such as kayaking, canoeing, and disc golf are available during certain times of the day.
13. Morehead State University
The Morehead State University Recreation and Wellness Center is a facility that is fully funded by students. The building is home to a large fitness area, three basketball courts, a walking track, and indoor tennis courts. As a bonus, a bowling facility can be found in the Laughlin Health Building, which is open during the academic year for open bowling. Aquatics are also a significant aspect of fitness at Morehead State University. In fact, the competition size pool is complete with a vortex and a zip line to add additional hours of fun. Outdoor activities begin with the challenge course, which is comprised of both physical and mental aspects that require problem-solving skills to complete. For students who are looking for an exciting adventure away from campus, the Recreation and Wellness Center offers trips that range from a serene hike in the woods to battling the white waters while traversing down the rapids on a raft.
10. California State University - Long Beach
True Zen is hard to achieve, but the Recreation and Wellness Center at the California State University at Long Beach is dedicated to creating an environment that makes this goal achievable for both students and faculty members. The facility starts by offering a chakra class that teaches students to balance their body’s chakra and focus on healing during meditation sessions. The campus also offers many forms of martial arts classes. The aquatics center offers fun and relaxing programs to encourage socialization like kayak racing, innertube Fridays, and sand volleyball. For those who relish a day trip off campus, the Recreation and Wellness Center organizes sailing adventures around Long Beach and hiking adventure at locations such as Ortega Falls and Sandstone Peak.
- Sit & Shoot is just one of the many programs offered for an inclusive health & wellness environment
- Beach Balance programming offers nutritionists, body composition and bmi screenings, as well as many other things
- Website: UMass Campus Rec
6. Illinois State University
Campus Recreation at Illinois State University is all about teamwork and strengthening your connection to others on campus. There is personal fitness training and classes with individual goals in mind, but the majority of the activities on this campus focus on group recreation. The campus has the facilities to play basketball, soccer, tennis, kickball, and hockey, but it also has an indoor climbing wall that offers a high mile challenge to students each semester. Your team capabilities can be tested on common elements, high elements, in the air, or in the water. No matter your comfort zone, you will need to work together to complete the task at hand. Special events are planned each year to raise funds for charities in need, like the Big Red Volleyball Competition or the Neon at Night 5k. In addition, skiing, hiking, climbing, and white water rafting trips are planned through the campus recreation center as well.
- Students are encouraged to participate in the Functionally Fit Challenge. This challenge promotes healthy leaving and team building.
- The Horton Field House seats 8,000 spectators. This facility can be rented out for recreational purposes.
- Website: Illinois State Campus Rec
5. University of Texas – Austin
The Division of Recreational Sports at the University of Texas at Austin is a multifaceted university organization that offers several recreation centers and fields for students to utilize. In student recreation at this university, aquatics is clearly a focus, as this school has three outdoor pools, one designed for events, one for laps, and the remaining for student’s leisure. In addition to these three pools, the natatorium at the Gregory Gym Aquatic Complex also contains two more indoor pools and a spa. The PRC Commons Rec Center and the Recreational Sports Center both serve as centers for maintaining a healthy, nonaquatic lifestyle on Austin’s campus. Student choices at these facilities run the gamut from competitive sports like racquetball to personalized regimens like those found in weight training. In addition to these options, the University rounds out its healthy student activities selection with several fields and halls to promote a healthier student body.
- TeXerscise Programing offers students multiple ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into their college experience.
- Adventure Trips offer something for everyone in the great outdoors. From backpacking in local parks to national park exploration.
- Website: UT Austin RecSports
4. Colorado State University
Colorado State University is one of the few schools that offer “Rec Cams”, or cameras placed strategically in their fitness facilities that help students who access them on the internet to get an idea of exactly how busy the campus’s recreation center is at the moment. The Student Recreation Center houses a myriad of choices for students interested in healthy physical maintenance, including an aquatic center with a pool that has four 25-yard lap lanes, a climbing wall, volleyball, and basketball areas. Fitness studios are also available in the recreation center as well as two separate gymnasiums. There are also several outdoor sports areas around the facility, with three outdoor basketball courts, an inline hockey rink, and three outdoor sand volleyball courts. In addition to the recreation center, Colorado State University also has a massive tennis complex for students to utilize.
- Recently staff have added Barre Dance Fusion, Hip Hop and Studio dance programming to the dance studio class list
- Outdoor Awareness classes occur every Tuesday. These classes will keep you alert and safe whether you are out for a casual hike or backpacking in the Rockies.
- Website: Colorado State Rec & Wellness
2. The Ohio State University
The Department of Recreational Sports at the Ohio State University has one of the top recreation centers in the United States, and what makes it even better is that it has non-typical fitness opportunities. Of course, there is weight training, group exercises, and traditional sports, but this campus also has facilities like the Tom W. Davis Climbing Center and the Recreation Natatorium. The climbing center is not just a rock wall; it consists of a series of cliffs, overhangs, and caves that is designed to test your limits. The natatorium includes a lap pool, an instructional pool, and a leisure pool, which is complete with bubble seats and a slide. Whirlpool spas and saunas are also available to students. Outdoor recreation is also unique; offering activities such as stand up paddleboard yoga and climbing Hock Hill or Red River Gorge Rock.
- The Lunch N Learn Series offers students a chance to work with a nutritionist on healthier food options.
- OSU maintains over 90 acres of dedicated recreation facility space
- Website: OSU RecSports
1. University of Missouri
When it comes to recreation centers, the University of Missouri stands at the top. Fitness can be achieved at the Jungle Gym, Clark’s Boxing Gym, or at any of the fitness studios that are located on campus, but the Mizzou Aquatic Center is the highlight at the University of Missouri. Here students can enjoy one of the best competition pools in the United States, a diving well, hot tubs, a sauna, a steam room, a vortex, a lazy river, and even waterfalls. If there is not enough excitement at the Tiger Grotto, make your way to Truman’s Pond, which is a campus beach club, which is the perfect place to relax in the sun while listening to music and socializing with fellow students. If an outdoor fitness experience is preferred, there are plenty of options at the sand volleyball courts, Epple Park, and the MU Rec Trail.
- The new Stalcup's Garage is outfitted with top of the line equipment. This space provides the ultimate functional training experience.
- Clark's Boxing Gym offers BoxMaster series equipment. Students can take advantage of open boxing and classes.
- Website: MizzouRec