Top 10 Colleges in Warm Places for Summer-Loving Students

What are the best warm-weather colleges for students who can't get enough sun? Our list introduces 10 warm colleges that guarantee few rainy or snowy days.

portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.

Updated July 23, 2022

Edited by Hannah Muniz
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Top 10 Colleges in Warm Places for Summer-Loving Students
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Some students dream of trudging across snowy campuses for five months of the year. Others long for warm temperatures and a year-round summer-like climate.

If you can't get enough sun, check out our list below of the best warm-weather colleges. To make this list, we looked at factors like the percentage of sunny days and the total annual hours of sunshine in a year.

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However, sunshine alone doesn't guarantee warm colleges. After all, Denver receives more than 3,100 hours of sunshine every year, but few would count its schools among the colleges in warm places.

For that reason, our list also factors in cities with the warmest winters and the fewest cold days. In addition, we included the average high temperatures in January and August, i.e., the start of each semester.

1. Arizona State University — Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix gets more sun than any other major U.S. city: nearly 3,900 hours of sun every year. This makes Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus a great place to take advantage of the warm weather.

The popular public institution, whose main campus is located in Tempe just eight miles east of Phoenix, enrolls more than 135,000 students, with about 58,000 attending ASU's many online programs.

The city's dry desert climate offers sweltering summer temps and crisp winter mornings. Students who want to avoid the summer highs can easily travel north for cooler temps, returning to campus for sunny fall and spring classes.

2. University of Nevada, Las Vegas — Las Vegas, NV

Few cities get more sun than Las Vegas, which boasts more than 200 days with barely a cloud in the sky. The city's soaring summer temperatures are balanced by milder winters. But even in the winter, the sun shines in Vegas.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas welcomes nearly 30,000 students to its 330-acre campus, which is also an arboretum. Escape the Strip to explore Nevada's red rock canyons or take advantage of the gorgeous weather to visit nearby Lake Mead.

3. University of California, San Diego — San Diego, CA

Want year-round warm weather without scorching high temperatures? Few places beat San Diego. With over 3,000 hours of sunshine every year and a gentle breeze from the Pacific, the University of California, San Diego ranks as one of the best warm-weather colleges.

UC San Diego's campus overlooks the ocean, offering a constant reminder of the fantastic weather. And the public university is also among the top 15 research universities in the world. Few other schools offer such a perfect balance of summer weather and prestige.

4. University of Arizona — Tucson, AZ

The Sonoran Desert is home to sunny days, cool nights, and scenic flora and fauna. Sun-lovers can soak up the rays on the 400-acre University of Arizona campus or escape to nearby Sabino Canyon to hike among towering saguaro cactuses.

With few rainy or cloudy days, UA ranks among the best colleges in warm places. The public university also offers many online programs for students who prefer distance learning.

5. University of Texas at Austin — Austin, TX

Texas's capital city is known for its long summers and mild winters. In Austin, the temperatures regularly hit the 70s or higher, even in the winter. And when it comes to warm colleges, the University of Texas at Austin ranks high.

At UT Austin, students can catch a sunny Longhorns football game at Memorial Stadium or visit the campus's massive aquatic center to cool off. Nearby Barton Springs provides another opportunity to enjoy the city's summery weather.

6. University of California, Los Angeles — Los Angeles, CA

Cold temperatures rarely bother students at the University of California, Los Angeles. The city of LA only experiences two days a year that dip below 40° F. Thanks to pleasant winters and hot, sunny summers, UCLA ranks among the best warm-weather colleges.

Los Angeles offers many attractions for sun-lovers, from sunbathing at the iconic Santa Monica Beach to hiking in Griffith Park. And if it's cloudy, you can escape to nearby Palm Springs for more sun.

7. University of Miami — Miami, FL

Why plan a spring break trip to Miami's beaches when you could attend the University of Miami year-round? The private research university enrolls 17,000 students on its three campuses in sunny Miami-Dade County.

South Florida is the perfect place to escape winter, with average January temperatures in the 70s.

Miami also ranks at the top of the list of cities with the most winter days that hit 70° F. During the winter months, Miami boasts a staggering 81 days of temperatures in the 70s or higher.

8. University of New Mexico — Albuquerque, NM

Want sunny skies with some cool winter days thrown in? Then consider the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The state's flagship public university, UNM sits on an 800-acre campus with unique Pueblo revival architecture.

The desert climate brings long, sunny days surrounded by snow-capped mountains. With 310 days of sun and low humidity, Albuquerque is the summer-loving destination for anyone who wants to escape swampy weather.

9. Trinity University — San Antonio, TX

With mild winters and sunny summers, San Antonio is a great destination for college students chasing the sun. And Trinity University, a small liberal arts college in San Antonio, offers a hilltop campus shaded by oak trees and dotted with fountains.

San Antonio ranks as one of the U.S. cities with the warmest winters. During those months, the city reports 37 days that reach the 70s or higher. Located in south-central Texas, San Antonio is the perfect home base to explore the state's coasts and deserts.

10. University of South Florida — Tampa, FL

Located near Tampa Bay, the University of South Florida offers a warm climate for its 45,000 students. Tampa boasts nearly 3,000 hours of sun every year. The city also has some of the mildest winters in the U.S. College students in Tampa only experience about a month of sub-70s highs in the winter.

USF students can also visit the satellite campuses in St. Petersburg or Sarasota to enjoy the sparkling, sunny Gulf of Mexico beaches.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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