For centuries, the University of Oxford's stellar graduates have influenced Western civilization — ever since the first homework was assigned here in 1167. But that doesn't mean that Oxford is stodgy. Although you may see professors in their traditional black robes, this is a fun, young college town, filled with lots of shopping, cheap eats around every corner, and rowdy, rollicking pubs. Step off the busy, urban-feeling High Street into the hushed sanctuary of a grassy college quad. See the dining hall that inspired the one where Harry Potter eats his meals, or the pub where J. R. R. Tolkien first spoke about the hobbits. Just outside town is the excellent Blenheim Palace, England's best countryside estate.