There are many, many ways to rank colleges and college towns. One article lists the "coolest" college towns, citing their restaurants with "authentic cuisines," the scenery, the sports, the museums, etc. I guess their definition of a cool college town is a place that offers something for everyone.
Normal wasn't on this particular list but we could argue that it has its own cool quotient. There are the obvious features, such as the festivals, museums and historical sites, parks/trail, sports, and the wide variety of eating establishments. But there are also features that make Normal uniquely cool. For example, there is always construction taking place, which should appeal to engineering and architectural design types (and to those who built stuff with Legos when they were kids). City Hall is centrally located so anyone who enjoys democracy-in-action, animated NIMBY debates can get their fill. Bicycle vs. vehicle showdowns occur daily on local streets. And for avian entertainment, there are geese not only on local ponds, but also in parking lots, on sidewalks, and out in the streets. If Normal has an official bird, it should be the goose (which would leave us vulnerable to jokes but with a name like Normal, we can take it).
And there are the features of Normal's ambiance which also add to its coolness, such as the mixture of a rather conservative residential population and local government with what one would assume to be a somewhat liberal college population -- guaranteed to provide entertaining clashes on occasion! And Normal's weather provides challenges unmatched by climbing a mountain trail (take that, University of Virginia!) or looking at bats in a cave (big deal, University of Texas!): the wind in Normal whips your hair and clothes in seven directions at once; the bitter cold of January requires seriously heavy outerwear while the humid 90-degree days in August require the lightest clothing possible as well as a variety of sandals, and the frequent severe storms require the need for a basement, a reliable sump pump, and the ability to quickly change plans.
Still not cool enough? How about the Camelback bridge and the Corn Crib ballpark? Or how about the amazing feats of negotiating the streets around ISU during move-in day?
Normal? Way cool.