It's a fantasy of many an aging baby-boomer.

(Image credit: David E. Garth)

It's a fantasy of many an aging baby-boomer. The mind drifts back to college days of yesteryear: crossing the tree-lined quad on your way to class, spending time with friends at the local hangout, and on weekends, the Big Game. But returning to campus life doesn't have to be just a dream. Retired and about-to-retire boomers are creating mini-boomlets in and around college towns, such as San Luis Obispo (shown here), home to California Polytechnic State University.

It's back to campus--minus all-nighters and final exams. College-town life offers cultural and educational benefits to enrich retirees. High-quality medical facilities are usually part of the deal, too. And, of course, it's an easy commute

to the stadium parking lot for weekend tailgate parties. If you're

contemplating a return to campus for your senior

years, consider these vibrant, affordable college towns.

Compiled by Rachel L. Sheedy and Amy Pollak

Statistics Sources: Census Data, Cities Ranked & Rated (Wiley, $25).