Population: approx 19,000
To visit Oxford is to almost go back in time like Marty McFly. The college town for Ole Miss has a comfortingly familiar town square with a courthouse in the center (including a clock on top—straight out of Back to the Future). Unlike so many older downtown areas, the businesses of Oxford are doing just fine: an award-winning bookstore, Ajax Diner and numerous other bars and eateries, clothing shops catering to the college crowd, and there’s even a classy little department store J.E. Neilson, the oldest documented store in the South (est. 1839).
Not far outside the downtown, literary tourists can stroll beneath the canopy of a dramatic alley of cedars to Rowan Oak, the enviable Greek Revival homestead of William Faulkner, and drive by other Faulkner-related local sites—Oxford is the real-life model for his fictional town Jefferson. Also, the Bob Dylan song “Oxford Town” centers on the famous desegregation struggle of James Meredith at Ole Miss.