The 100 Most Beautiful College Campuses In America
Deciding on where and how to further a college education has become increasingly more complicated. Options range from attending a traditional four-year college to pursuing a fully online education. Top-quality education from top-quality institutions can be achieved online, see Best College Reviews ranking of the top online colleges for more information on distance learning.
Be that as it may, the reality is, nothing can really compare to the full experience of on-campus college life and when making that all-important decision on where to go to college, the benefits of a beautiful campus shouldn’t be underestimated. Working to an aesthetically appealing backdrop may provide that welcome touch of inspiration when hitting the books, and relaxing is arguably easier and more fun when you have lush green areas, elegant buildings and serene lakes to explore. Fortunately, across the U.S. there is no shortage of universities that match their academic credentials with stunning surroundings, whether they’re set among rolling mountains and leafy woodlands or close to the bright lights of a big city. Here are 100 of the most beautiful college campuses in America.
To create this piece, nominations were selected based on 1.) inclusion in dozens of comparable “most beautiful college campuses” list articles, and 2.) an informal survey of friends and colleagues both in and out of academia.
Picturesque natural features such as green spaces, bodies of water and arboretums were the key criteria, as was elegant architecture – and specific buildings and areas were then singled out for their outstanding looks. The ordering was selected simply on the basis of which, as a whole, seemed to be the most beautiful.
100. Sonoma State University – Rohnert Park, California
Sonoma State University’s 269-acre campus in Rohnert Park, California is known for its impressive green credentials, but beauty hasn’t been sacrificed in the construction of some of its most notable and eco-friendly buildings. Case in point: the sleek Green Music Center, which not only looks good, but has also been carefully designed to save substantial amounts of energy. The complex’s standout structure is the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, with its sizable doors and elegant lawn. This facility opened in 2012 and comes courtesy of Massachusetts-based William Rawn Associates Architects and California’s AC Martin. Elsewhere, aesthetic splendor also takes the form of the campus’ three lakes, which are a haven for local waterfowl. Sonoma State started off life in 1960, operating out of rented buildings before relocating to its current site in 1966.
99. University of Montana – Missoula, Montana
The University of Montana’s 56-acre principal campus in Missoula may be ensconced at the bottom of the 1,958-foot Mount Sentinel, but it is far from overshadowed, in terms of beauty at least. Indeed, Rolling Stone magazine has dubbed it the “most scenic campus in America.” After the school’s foundation in 1893, the plans for its grounds were devised by professor Frederick Scheuch, and the primary buildings were arranged about the verdant Oval in 1895. Connecting to this central space, Memorial Row is a graceful ponderosa pine-lined avenue that acts as a poignant monument to those affiliated with the university who perished in World War I. Meanwhile, the ascending “M” trail affords splendid vistas of the nearby city; and Renaissance Revival-style structures complete with green-tiled roofs also make the campus a must-see for anyone who appreciates interesting architecture.
98. College of the Holy Cross – Worcester, Massachusetts
The Princeton Review labelled the College of the Holy Cross’ 174-acre campus “exceptionally beautiful” in its 2014 guide, having already named it one of the top five most attractive in the country in 2010. This may be due in part to the hillside grounds’ status as a registered arboretum, with in excess of 6,000 trees adding both color and elegance to the area. Lovely buildings don’t hurt, either. The towered, architecturally eclectic centerpiece, Fenwick Hall, was reconstructed following a blaze in the early 1850s. Then there’s St. Joseph Memorial Chapel; this stately edifice featuring Corinthian columns has graced the College of the Holy Cross’ campus since 1922, with its Renaissance Revival aesthetic having come courtesy of Boston architects Maginnis & Walsh. The college itself was set up in 1843 in Worcester, Massachusetts as a Jesuit institution, and it still maintains its religious affiliation today.
97. Pacific Union College – Angwin, California
Although Pacific Union College (PUC) was set up in Healdsburg, California in 1882, its sylvan campus – which stretches to around 1,900 acres – now lies on Howell Mountain in Angwin. As a result, it affords lovely vistas of the Golden State’s verdant Napa Valley wine country. The school relocated there in 1909, and it was an understandable choice, given the abundance of raw beauty in and around the grounds. PUC’s students can bask in the glory of nature by cycling or trekking their way across no less than 30 miles of trails. Budding scholars can also worship in the sleek, white PUC Church, which has hosted congregations since 1968 and boasts a magnificent 4,000-pipe organ fashioned in Austria that towers some 50 feet overhead.
96. Connecticut College – New London, Connecticut
Connecticut College was established in New London, Connecticut in 1911, and given that its seal prominently features a tree at its center, it’s probably no surprise to discover that there are plenty of them peppering the institution’s picturesque campus. In fact, the school’s entire 750-acre site has been declared part of an arboretum, with the grounds boasting an array of interesting trees such as the Japanese pagoda and blooms of Chinese witchhazel, among myriad other specimens. Meanwhile, eye-catching architectural features like the colonial Georgian-look Harkness Chapel also amaze. Replete with a lofty spire and Ionic columns, this granite structure was conceived by academic architect James Gamble Rogers and has been a mainstay of the campus since the chapel’s consecration in 1940.
95. Brooklyn College – New York City, New York
New York City’s Brooklyn College came into being in 1930, with its Midwood campus opening its gates in 1937. The grounds were conceived by architect Randolph Evans to bear resemblance to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia design. Forgoing the more popular Collegiate Gothic aesthetic, the first Brooklyn College buildings were rather Neo-Georgian in style, with impressive red-brick structures such as LaGuardia and Ingersoll Halls setting the tone. Topped with an eye-catching clock tower, LaGuardia Hall was erected in 1937 and remains a centerpiece of the grassy East Quad. Another attractive feature is the 26-acre campus’ lily pond, where cherry trees bloom in late spring, adding further natural beauty to an already lovely spot.
94. Miami University – Oxford, Ohio
Despite the name, Miami University’s main campus actually lies in the Ohio city of Oxford – essentially the school’s home since its establishment in 1809. The following two centuries have seen much in the way of development, with most structures – like the mid 20th-century Upham Hall – conceived in a Georgian Revival architectural style. Currently, the university’s grounds cover 2,000 acres. A number of the school’s appealing buildings are historically significant, and some even grace the National Register of Historic Places, making Miami University a beautiful and unique place at which to pursue higher education. Arguably among the most alluring campus sights is Langstroth Cottage, constructed in 1856 and once home to beekeeper L. L. Langstroth. Modernized heating and plumbing systems have since been fitted inside, but the cottage retains the same Greek Revival-style charm it had in Langstroth’s day.
93. Hamilton College – Clinton, New York
Hamilton College’s first incarnation was as boys’ school Hamilton-Oneida Academy, in 1793. In 1812 it received both its charter and current name, although the institution remained all-male until 1978, when it amalgamated with women’s school Kirkland College. Interestingly, alumnus and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elihu Root is linked to two of the most attractive areas of the college’s already picturesque 1,350-acre campus in Clinton, New York. The major section of the pretty, Federal-style structure that Root called home in the summer months was constructed in 1817 – and the property has had the honor of being a National Historic Landmark since 1972. The former secretary of war also owned the lovely Root Glen, which blooms with flowers, shrubs and 65 different kinds of trees – all told, a splendid area of natural beauty that originally belonged to Root’s father Oren.
92. Union College – Schenectady, New York
Schenectady, New York’s Union College traces its history back to 1779, when some of the state’s population led a petition calling for tertiary education. However, the school’s fate lay in limbo for 16 years before it was eventually chartered in 1795. Union College’s campus was developed by French architect Joseph-Jacques Ramée in the early 19th century, and a couple of the new buildings were readied by 1814. Ramée’s original plans laid the foundation for what is arguably the tree- and garden-decked 120-acre campus’ most prominent and attractive sight: the Nott Memorial. This splendid, multi-hued stone building is apparently one of only a handful of 16-sided structures on the planet. Twenty-one years in the making, it was realized based on a blueprint by Union College alumnus, the architect Edward Tuckerman Potter.
91. Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, Illinois
The sleekly modernist S.R. Crown Hall has graced the grounds of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago since 1956, 16 years after the school was formed owing to an amalgamation between the Armour Institute of Technology and Lewis Institute. The eye-catching home of the institute’s College of Architecture is perhaps pioneering German-born architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s crowning achievement. The structure – its open steel and glass facade an icon of the 120-acre school campus – was given the distinction of being made a National Historic Landmark in 2001. Elsewhere, IIT’s Main Building may be more conventionally collegiate in appearance but is no less attractive for that fact. Completed in 1893 to a design by local firm Patton & Fisher, the sandstone and red brick edifice remains a captivating piece of Romanesque Revival architecture.
90. Wake Forest University – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Wake Forest University’s main Reynolda campus stretches across 340 acres in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. According to the school’s website, the grounds aren’t short of beauty, either; and as we’re told, “There is nothing prettier than sitting on the steps of Wait Chapel looking towards Reynolda Hall on a crisp fall day, or even better at twilight.” Offering another enchanting sight are the university-owned Reynolda Gardens, situated next to the main campus. This green space bursts with fields, woods and wetlands and contains trails ideal for those with a taste for walking through lovely natural areas. The university gained its name upon being set up in Wake Forest, north of Raleigh, in 1834, moving to its current location in 1956.
89. The Evergreen State College – Olympia, Washington
As its name suggests, The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington is not short of verdant surroundings. Set among towering forest foliage, the 1,000-acre campus boasts a number of beautiful trails that students can explore and use as a springboard for agricultural and ecological research. Attendees can even head down to the nearby Evergreen Beach – another site of scientific inquiry as well as recreation and relaxation. Plus, the beach borders the magnificent Puget Sound, which is ideal for kayaking. Green also takes on another meaning at the college, with an organic farm acting both as a hub for teaching sustainable agricultural methods and as another lovely area of varied, thriving plant and vegetable life. The Evergreen State College is one of the younger institutions on this list, having been established in 1967.
88. Columbia University – New York City, New York
Located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, bordering Harlem, Columbia University may lack the quaint rural charms of some of its collegiate counterparts. However, the Morningside Heights campus of the Ivy League institution makes up for this with the sheer magnificence of its design, conceived in the Beaux-Arts mode by architects McKim, Mead & White. With its rich neoclassical aesthetics and strong references to Rome’s Pantheon, the iconic Low Memorial Library – constructed in 1895 – is a case in point. Another significant structure on Columbia’s 32-acre main site is the impressive Butler Library, which was built in 1934 to a blueprint by James Gamble Rogers and today still wows with its Ionic columns. Columbia University itself dates back to 1754, when it was known as King’s College. Following the Revolutionary War, its name was switched to Columbia College and eventually, in 1896, to Columbia University, at which point it also relocated to Morningside Heights from Madison Avenue.
87. Mercer University – Macon, Georgia
Law students at Mercer University have an exceptionally grand building in which to study: the Walter F. George School of Law stands proud on its own site a mile away from the Macon, Georgia main grounds. Built in the Renaissance Revival style, and complete with arresting white pillars and clock tower, the stunning structure was based on another iconic edifice – Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Also close by is Woodruff House, a splendid Greek Revival antebellum home designed by local architect Elam Alexander. Dating back to 1836, Woodruff has earned itself a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Mercer University was actually first situated in Penfield, Georgia, where it began life in 1833 as a tertiary prep school for boys, known as Mercer Institute. It switched locations to Macon in 1871.
86. California Baptist University – Riverside, California
A feast of splendid Mission Revival architecture, California Baptist University (CBU) has called the city of Riverside home since 1955 – although it was first set up as California Baptist College in El Monte five years before that. Facilities such as the quaint, pretty Annie Gabriel Library – its building erected in 1921 – and the eye-catching, early 20th-century James Complex add a strong Spanish flavor to the 156-acre campus. The school’s ideal Southern California location also lends itself to what CBU’s official website describes as “a breathtaking view of the San Bernardino Mountains.” Besides which, there’s an attractive proliferation of palm trees. California Baptist University’s motto is “Live Your Purpose,” and such beautiful surroundings ought to help its students be inspired to do just that.
85. Fordham University – New York City, New York
Fordham University started off its life as St. John’s College, a distinctly Catholic institution; this was back in 1841, when it was based solely at its Rose Hill campus in the Bronx. The school now has a pair of other locations in New York, but it is Rose Hill that is arguably the most beautiful. Lovely verdant areas grace its 85 acres, with the expansive Martyrs’ Lawn, for one, providing the perfect place in which to hang out on sunny days. Roses bloom around the campus’ Administration Building – constructed in 1838 – while the grounds’ crown jewel, the magnificent Keating Hall, adds grandeur to the greenery of Edwards Parade. This last Neo-Gothic granite edifice with its ornate clock tower was designed by local architect Robert J. Reiley and remains as impressive and attractive as it was upon completion in 1936.
84. Tulane University – New Orleans, Louisiana
Tulane University’s pretty campus in New Orleans has been on the National Register of Historic Places for over 35 years. Walking through the grounds, it’s perhaps easy to see why they have been so acclaimed: graceful buildings in various different styles mix with beautiful green spaces like Gibson Quad not to mention clumps of grand oak trees. Arguably one of the 110-acre grounds’ most stunning architectural features is Gibson Hall. The hall was the inaugural building on campus upon its completion in 1894 – the year that the school made the switch to its current location – although the institution had been established as the Medical College of Louisiana 60 years previously. Local firm Harrod and Andry was responsible for the elegant stone and brick structure’s Richardsonian Romanesque look.
83. University of the Pacific – Stockton, California
Set up in 1851, the University of the Pacific in Stockton holds the honor of being the very first chartered institution of post-secondary education in the state of California. Pacific hasn’t, however, always been based in the Northern California city; it began its days as California Wesleyan College in Santa Clara before relocating to San Jose in 1871 and finally to Stockton in 1923. Then in 1961 it took on its present title. Today, trees and flowers add natural beauty to the school’s 175-acre main campus, which is crowned by the awe-inspiring Burns Tower. The Neo-Gothic tower rises above the landscape and acts as an attention-grabbing focal point, especially when its carillon of 122 bells begins to chime. Made from concrete and steel, and decorated with brightly colored stained-glass windows, Burns Tower was the work of architects Howard G. Bissell and Glen H. Mortensen and was completed in 1964.
82. Elon University – Elon, North Carolina
Classified as a botanic garden, Elon University’s campus in Elon, North Carolina is by its nature full of stunning plant life, flowers and trees, giving it the air of a well-kept suburban park. That said, the abundance of greenery is only one reason to visit the 525-acre campus. Built in 1926, at first to serve as an orphanage, the school’s Johnston Hall has garnered a spot on the National Register of Historic Places and is now home to alumni offices. Impressive structures such as the Alamance Building – which opened its doors in 1925 – mix with lovely features like Fonville Fountain. Students were sometimes permitted to swim in Fonville Fountain between 1982, when it was installed, and 1986, at which point the practice was forbidden. Elon University itself was founded in 1889 as Elon College, acquiring its present moniker in 2001.
81. University of Richmond – Richmond, Virginia
The University of Richmond’s 350-acre grounds were judged to be the most beautiful in the country by The Princeton Review in 2000. The campus’ wealth of green spaces and inspiring red brick Collegiate Gothic-style constructions certainly make it a splendid sight, and its picturesque location amid the undulating hills of Richmond, Virginia doesn’t hurt, either. Warren H. Manning was the prominent American landscape designer behind the look of the grounds – which also feature the serene waters of Westhampton Lake – with the school having relocated here from central Richmond in 1914. Meanwhile, important architect Ralph Adams Cram conceived various of the magnificent buildings. These include Jeter Hall, which was completed in 1913 and acted as accommodation for nurses stationed at the campus’ base hospital in WWI. The school was originally established in 1830 as an institute for aspiring ministers and was chartered as Richmond College in 1840.
80. University of Southern California – Los Angeles, California
While the University of Southern California’s principal campus has been the subject of not one but two master plans, it’s the initial design by local father-and-son architects John and Donald Parkinson that gifted the school’s 229-acre main site with its beautiful Romanesque Revival style. That said, arguably one of the most appealing buildings is the Edward L. Doheny, Jr. Memorial Library, which was actually developed to a blueprint by Boston’s Cram and Ferguson. The architecture firm aimed for the completed building to work in harmony with those already on campus, and it doesn’t disappoint. Splendid ornate features embellish the library both inside and out: limestone and colored marble accents adds visual flair to the exterior, while exquisite ceilings and chandeliers grace the interior of the structure, which was dedicated in 1932. The university itself was set up in 1880 in Los Angeles, where it still resides.
79. Agnes Scott College – Decatur, Georgia
Women’s liberal arts institution Agnes Scott College may have a relatively small student body, but those who do study at the Decatur, Georgia-based school can revel in a picturesque, tree-lined campus that – together with its surrounding locale – has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Across the grounds’ 100 acres, gorgeous buildings abound – chief among them the red brick, Greek and Romanesque Revival Agnes Scott Hall, which boasts an elegant arched entrance and a lofty, pointed bell tower. Designed by Atlanta architects Bruce & Morgan and completed in 1891, this was the first structure to grace the campus, and indeed it formerly played host to the whole college. Agnes Scott College was instituted as Decatur Female Seminary in 1889, receiving its present name in 1906. Its lovely grounds have provided a shooting location for movies like Driving Miss Daisy, Scream 2 and The Blind Side.
78. Whitman College – Walla Walla, Washington
As well as possessing expanses of appealing greenery and some architecturally outstanding buildings, Walla Walla, Washington’s Whitman College boasts two notable and beautiful areas of water. College Creek runs through the 117-acre grounds, while the splendid (and splendidly named) geothermal spring Lakum Duckum provides a haven for both human and avian life. On the architectural front, the Richardson Romanesque-style Whitman Memorial Building holds the honor of being the first edifice still standing to have been erected on Whitman’s grounds; it was designed by George Washington Babcock and completed at the turn of the 20th century. The structure – the administrative heart of the college – was awarded a slot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Whitman itself traces its origins back to 1859, when it was established as Whitman Seminary, eventually becoming a four-year college in 1883.
77. Wagner College – New York City, New York
Staten Island liberal arts school Wagner College has Collegiate Gothic architecture to arguably rival that of the Ivy League institutions. Case in point: the iconic Main Hall, a magnificent turreted structure that was completed in 1930, based on the designs of New York architect George W. Conable. Meanwhile, with its lush greenery, Sutter Oval provides a suitably lovely frame for the building. The college was originally instituted in 1883 in Rochester but relocated to Staten Island in 1918. In the process, it also acquired the eye-catching Cunard Hall, a charming 1850s Italianate villa that was once the home of shipping tycoon Edward Cunard. The 110-acre campus in addition enjoys panoramic views of New York Harbor.
76. Santa Clara University – Santa Clara, California
Since its foundation as Santa Clara College in 1851, Santa Clara University has spread out and now covers over 106 acres. The university is located in the Californian city of its name, and here palm trees and lovely Mission-style architecture complement the area’s mild, often warm climate. Meanwhile, intriguing structures like the Ricard Observatory – completed in 1928 and notable for its distinctive silver domes – are as functional as they are charming. Some buildings prove that sustainability is no barrier to attractive design, either. The Paul L. Locatelli, S. J. Student Activities Center, in particular, is not only aesthetically pleasing but also sustainable. Completed in 2010 to a design by California architects Devcon Construction, Inc., the center has earned LEED Gold certification for its plethora of green features – including low-emissions finishes, and brick-paved walkways that cut down on water runoff.
75. Williams College – Williamstown, Massachusetts
Williamstown, Massachusetts’ Williams College has undergone substantial expansion in recent years, but its strikingly elegant older buildings still make the school’s 450-acre campus a standout. Among these edifices is the lofty Thompson Memorial Chapel, which dates back to 1904. Designed by Bostonian Francis R. Allen of architectural partnership Allen & Collens, the chapel boasts a tower that was modeled after the beautiful Church of St. Cuthbert in Wells, England. On a related note, Griffin Hall takes its cue from a structure at Andover Theological Seminary, though it inspires awe in its own right, with its Doric pillars, Palladian window feature and a gleaming golden orb at its crown. Griffin Hall was completed in 1828, based on a design by Massachusetts architects Harding and Seaver. Williams College itself has a long history, having been founded back in 1793.
74. Gettysburg College – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Gettysburg College’s number of trees has flourished in recent years, growing to nigh on 2,000 by 2012. It’s just one of the reasons why the 200-acre grounds of the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania-based school are a lovely place in which to study. A haven for avian life, Quarry Pond is a highlight of the campus’ green areas, while magnificent architecture includes the oldest edifice on site, Pennsylvania Hall. This building was conceived in the American Greek Revival style by John Cresson Trautwine and opened its doors in 1837. Elsewhere, the domineering Glatfelter Hall is a stunning Victorian Romanesque construction, building work on which was concluded in 1889 to a design by John A. Dempwolf. Gettysburg College was instituted in 1832 as Pennsylvania College and in 1837 moved to its present-day campus, with Pennsylvania Hall acting as a field hospital when the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg took place.
73. University of Houston – Houston, Texas
The University of Houston came into being in 1927 as Houston Junior College, operating out of San Jacinto High School in its home Texas city. Classes began at the university’s current location in 1939, and the beautiful, now 667-acre campus has been wowing generations of students ever since. Pride of place on the leafy, sculpture-adorned grounds is arguably taken by the striking Art Deco-style Ezekiel W. Cullen Building, which was completed in 1950. The work of Texan architect Alfred C. Finn, the building is made even more awe-inspiring by the lovely Cullen Family Plaza, where it resides, with this outside space having been dedicated in 1972. Another entrancing campus feature is Jim Sanborn’s principally bronze and copper sculpture, A,A, which is incised with fragments of literature in various different languages and at night projects its text onto the adjacent M.D. Anderson Library.
72. Occidental College – Los Angeles, California
American architect Myron Hunt was responsible for Occidental College’s graceful Mediterranean look, with its earliest impressive buildings bearing hallmark red-tile roofs. First set up in 1887, the school relocated to Los Angeles’ Eagle Rock area in 1914, and this is where it resides to this day. Perhaps the college’s most attractive structures are still its Fowler, Swan and Johnson Halls, the iconic original trio of buildings on campus. Completed in 1914, all three of the edifices incorporate elegant Beaux-Arts elements, which add stateliness to Occidental’s charming campus. Of course, in the intervening century new structures have sprung up across the school’s 120-acre grounds. Notable among these is the complementary 42,000-square-foot Hameetman Science Center, which was carefully designed by L.A.’s CO Architects and finished in 2003. Elsewhere, the well-liked Erdman Hall dates back to 1927.
71. Baylor University – Waco, Texas
Baptist-affiliated Baylor University’s history stretches all the way back to 1845, when it was founded in Independence, Texas; however, it relocated to its current setting in Waco some 40 years later. Spectacular sights both natural and man-made are dotted throughout the school’s 1,000-acre campus. One noteworthy spot is the verdant and graceful Burleson Quadrangle – created in 1886 – which acts as a hugely attractive common area for the university’s students. Moreover, from this position some of the grounds’ most inspiring buildings can be appreciated – not least Old Main, which combines Italianate and American Victorian features and whose construction was concluded in 1887, based on a design by William Lamour.
70. Colby College – Waterville, Maine
Colby College has experienced several name changes since its foundation as the Maine Literary and Theological Institution in 1813. The school received its existing moniker in 1867, however, and has enjoyed its current setting on Waterville, Maine’s Mayflower Hill since the mid 20th century. Moreover, the loveliness of the college’s 714-acre campus immediately suggests that the relocation was no bad thing. Around 640 acres of the grounds have been named a Wildlife Management Area, with stunning spots like the serene Johnson Pond serving as a haven for fauna. Meanwhile, the school’s amazing total of over 1,800 trees – as well as its splendid array of shrubs and perennials – is added to by the plant-filled Perkins Arboretum, which sprawls over 128 acres.
69. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was first chartered in 1861 but, owing to the American Civil War, didn’t begin classes until 1865, then at its original Boston home. In 1916 the school relocated to its existing 168-acre campus in Cambridge, an area developed to a plan by MIT alumnus William Welles Bosworth. Almost a century on, breathtaking features such as Bosworth’s iconic, Pantheon-esque Great Dome add grandeur to the venerable institution’s grounds. Meanwhile, more contemporary highlights like 2004’s beguiling Frank Gehry-designed Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences bring the school bang up to date. Elsewhere, Killian Court – although it was hard-paved to begin with – has long been a green expanse that offers a lovely spot in which to sit or study.
68. Covenant College – Lookout Mountain, Georgia
Georgia’s Covenant College is a must-visit for its amazing views: an astonishing seven states are visible from its location at the top of Lookout Mountain. Still, the school’s 400-acre campus offers its own share of rewarding sights – not least its landmark building, Carter Hall. Constructed in 1928, originally to serve as the Lookout Mountain Hotel, the building was purchased by the college decades later when it moved to the area. Covenant was first set up in Pasadena, California in 1955 but switched locations to St. Louis, Missouri the following year before finding its current home in 1964. Now, the school’s magnificent Austro-Bavarian Gothic Revival flagship structure acts as a base for the academic institution’s staff and admin offices alongside dorm rooms and other facilities.
67. Point Loma Nazarene University – San Diego, California
As well as offering gorgeous ocean vistas, Point Loma Nazarene University’s 90-acre campus has an intriguing past: it was previously the site of a Theosophical commune named Lomaland. A good deal of the architectural elements at the university’s San Diego location date back to that time, including a stunning Greek theater – the first of its kind on the continent – that was constructed in 1901. Completed that same year, the unusually shaped Mieras Hall also acts as an eye-catching focal point, blending Victorian timber design with antiquated touches like a Corinthian-style column and an amethyst dome – all to magnificent effect. The college took over the old Lomaland estate in 1973. However, it was established as the Pacific Bible College over 70 years prior to that, in 1902, and has undergone various name changes during its history.
66. Washington and Lee University – Lexington, Virginia
Washington and Lee University’s grounds comprise some 415 acres situated in the city of Lexington, Virginia, surrounded by the glorious Appalachian Mountains. British poet John Drinkwater is once said to have acclaimed the area as the most aesthetically pleasing college setting in the entire U.S. What’s more, architectural features such as the grand, historic Colonnade and the lovely Lee Chapel add charm in spades. The Late Victorian-style chapel was named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee, president of the institution at the time of the church’s construction, from 1867 to 1868. Lee’s son is believed to have had a hand in the design of the brick and limestone structure, as is Virginia Military Institute professor Thomas Williamson. Washington and Lee’s origins date back to 1749, when it was formed as Augusta Academy. It relocated to its Lexington site in 1780.
65. Montreat College – Montreat, North Carolina
The name of North Carolina-based Montreat College stems from an amalgam of the words “mountain” and “retreat.” It’s apt, too, as the Christian liberal arts school’s campus in the town of Montreat looks more like a haven for stressed city dwellers than a place of higher learning. The college describes its 112 acres as a “little mountain paradise,” and the adjacent Lake Susan offers a place of serenity away from studies. Meanwhile, those with a penchant for hiking can take advantage of over 20 nearby trails encompassing close to 30 miles of scenic splendor. The institution originally formed as the Montreat Normal School for young women in 1916, changing its name to Montreat College in 1934 and evolving into a four-year college in 1945. It then underwent a restructuring and became the co-ed Montreat-Anderson junior college in 1959. Since 1995 it has again enjoyed its former name and is once more a four-year college.
64. Thomas Aquinas College – Santa Paula, California
Thomas Aquinas College’s motto translates as “The True, The Good, The Beautiful.” What’s more, the college’s 131-acre campus – set within the lovely rural surrounds of Santa Paula, California – certainly delivers on the last of those ideals. Instituted in 1971, the small Roman Catholic school naturally has a chapel in which to worship, and it’s a fairly awe-inspiring one at that. Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel is a splendid gem conceived primarily in the Spanish Mission style, but with a stunning 89-foot-tall dome that also evokes the college’s religious affiliation. Built to a design by University of Notre Dame professor of architecture Duncan Stroik, the chapel was formally opened in 2009 – although not before the plans were consecrated by Pope John Paul II and the building’s cornerstone sanctified in similar fashion by a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.
63. Brigham Young University – Provo, Utah
Brigham Young University’s immaculately groomed campus has seen the Provo, Utah-based school dubbed “the Disneyland of American colleges and universities,” as reported by Salt Lake City publication the Deseret News. What’s more, although of course there are no roller coasters to be found on the school’s grounds, students can enjoy splendid views of the nearby Wasatch Mountains. Likewise, the carefully cultivated immediate green surroundings ought to be a draw for anyone who appreciates beauty in abundance. The institution was even named top of its class in the campus category of the America in Bloom competition in 2005. Dedicated in 1975, the Carillon Bell Tower is another sight to behold, with the 90-foot-tall structure the work of Markham & Markham Architects and Engineers. Brigham Young University was established in 1875 and in 1904 acquired a 17-acre area of its current site, which has since expanded to around 560 acres.
62. Haverford College – Haverford, Pennsylvania
The bulk of students at the Haverford, Pennsylvania-based Haverford College dwell on campus, but given the academic institution’s stunning surrounds, this may not be too much of a hardship. The school’s 216-acre grounds represent the oldest college arboretum in the country; their plan was devised by British landscape gardener William Carvill, and the legion of lush gardens and trees add a great deal of pastoral splendor to this day. A nature trail enables students and visitors to experience the resident flora and fauna up close and personal, while a charming duck pond also sits on campus, its surrounding wooded areas changing to wonderful effect with the seasons. Haverford College was set up as an exclusively male institution in 1833 but formally went co-educational in 1980.
61. Belmont University – Nashville, Tennessee
Stunning architecture is the order of the day at Nashville’s Belmont University, a Christian school that assumed its present title in 1991 but which was established in 1890 as Belmont College – an institution teaching young women at levels from elementary school up to and including junior college. Aesthetically, perhaps the most glorious main campus building of all is still Belmont Mansion – once the abode of local socialite Adelicia Acklen – which in 1971 earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Upon completion in 1853, this edifice was among the most opulent antebellum residences in the Southern U.S., and to this day it boasts lovely Greek Revival and Italianate elements, with a pair of central columns instantly catching the eye. In its current role as a museum, Belmont Mansion remains a showpiece of the 75-acre campus. Also built in 1853, Belmont’s 105-foot Tower and Carillon is another historic highlight.
60. Southern Methodist University – Dallas, Texas
According to its official website, Southern Methodist University “offers the tranquility of a 164-acre suburban campus with Neo-Georgian architecture, spacious lawns and tree-lined walkways.” While the school received its charter in 1911, it wasn’t until 1915 that classes commenced – around the exact same time that its inaugural building, the magnificent Dallas Hall, was dedicated. The brainchild of Boston-based architects Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, the grand Georgian style of the design was based on the historic – and equally beautiful – Rotunda at the University of Virginia. Today, the hall remains a chief landmark of the school’s attractive main campus in Dallas’ University Park.
59. Smith College – Northampton, Massachusetts
The aptly named Paradise Pond is one of the most idyllic features of Smith College’s Northampton, Massachusetts campus, and the largely female student population can take time out from classes to sit at the water’s edge surrounded by stunning foliage. Smith’s campus was initially conceived as an arboretum and botanic garden by notable landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century. This helps explain the grounds’ abundance of natural beauty. Indeed, no less than 1,200 kinds of shrubs and trees grace the college’s 147 acres, with a number of other gardens adding both botanical interest and visual splendor. Smith College was originally chartered in 1871 and welcomed in a student body of 14 in 1875.
58. Boston College – Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Boston College’s principal campus is nestled within Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; and looking at magnificent Gasson Hall – with its iconic bell tower and the eagle sculpture standing before it – it’s clear that the grounds are a pretty special place of learning. Gasson Hall is one of half a dozen beautiful stone Gothic Revival structures that comprise the Boston College Main Campus Historic District. These edifices and the rest of the 175-acre campus were conceived by Charles Donagh Maginnis of architectural firm Maginnis & Walsh, with the groundbreaking having taken place in 1909. Gasson Hall not only looks majestic, but was also a pioneering force behind the incorporation of the Collegiate Gothic style into the architecture of several other prestigious schools – including Yale and Princeton – as well as beyond. Boston College was instituted as a Jesuit college by the Society of Jesus in 1863.
57. Loyola Marymount University – Los Angeles, California
Sitting among Los Angeles’ Del Rey Hills, Loyola Marymount University has origins that date back to 1865, when its predecessor, the Catholic St. Vincent’s College, was formed. In 1911 this institution was folded into Los Angeles College, with the school attaining university designation in 1930, a year after moving to its current location in Westchester by L.A.’s West Side. It wasn’t until 1973 that the college amalgamated with Marymount College. The elegant Sacred Heart Chapel – one of several highlights on the 150-acre campus – pays tribute to the university’s religious roots and continuing Catholic affiliation. This 1955 Spanish Gothic-style structure dazzles inside with its multi-hued stained-glass windows, marble and concrete pillars, and impressive chandeliers.
56. New College of Florida – Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota, Florida has played home to the grounds of the New College of Florida since the early 1960s, with the institution having been founded at the turn of the decade. The area’s subtropical climate may well itself be a draw; however, given its lovely mix of verdant scenery, bayfront position and magnificent buildings, the school’s campus ought to be a major attraction, too. Within the college’s 110 acres, a trio of elegant former mansions serve as architectural centerpieces. College and Cook Halls were completed in 1926, Caples Mansion dates back to 1930, and they’ve all sat on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. Currently containing faculty areas, classrooms and an admissions reception, College Hall was originally built as a mansion at the behest of circus supremo Charles Ringling and to a design by Milwaukee architects Clas, Shepard & Clas. With its Etowah marble facade and adjoining, perfectly landscaped lawn, it’s a particularly impressive sight.
55. Salve Regina University – Newport, Rhode Island
“A small stroll through the campus of Salve Regina University is a tour of the great architectural works of the Golden Age,” former National Trust for Historic Preservation president Richard Moe once said. Moe went on to praise the Newport, Rhode Island-based University for its efforts in preserving the magnificent historic buildings that dot its verdant 80-acre grounds. Shining among these gems is Ochre Court, an astonishing chateau-like mansion that dates back to 1892 and – thanks to a design by distinguished American architect Richard Morris Hunt – lends a healthy dose of Neo-Gothic French style to the campus. The hall was acquired by Salve Regina in 1947, 13 years after the school was founded. Other architectural treasures of the stunning, water-fronted site include the red sandstone, Romanesque Revival McAuley Hall and the geometrically intricate mock-Elizabethan manor house Wakehurst.
54. Ohio University – Athens, Ohio
Ohio University’s main Athens campus is fortunate enough to be graced by the Hocking River flowing directly by its 1,800-acre grounds, which offers students handy access to the scenic, sought-after bicycle path that runs along the waterway’s banks. The lush College Green, meanwhile, acts as both a typical college quadrangle and an excellent spot for taking in some of the school’s most impressive buildings, including the iconic Manasseh Cutler Hall. The hall is named after one of Ohio University’s founders and has been deemed a National Historic Landmark since 1966. Notable for its pretty timber tower and crowning cupola, the late Federalist-style edifice was opened in 1819, 15 years after the university received its official charter. Wolfe Garden also acts as the perfect spot for respite during downtime.
53. College of the Atlantic – Bar Harbor, Maine
Perched on the coast in Bar Harbor, College of the Atlantic enjoys a terrific location right by the ocean, which it describes as its “front yard.” This setting guarantees jaw-dropping views and excellent opportunities for kayaking, sailing or otherwise exploring the local marine habitat. As befits a college with a strong investment in ecological issues – it even boasts a sustainable business program – the natural world is prized here. Abundant garden areas provide beautiful green spots in which to study or just sit and relax, and among these spaces is the Beatrix Farrand Garden, created by its noted namesake landscape architect in 1928. Instituted in 1969, the small college sits on 37 acres of Maine’s Mount Desert Island.
52. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University – Blacksburg, Virginia
The Peggy Lee Hahn Horticulture Garden is a stunning spot on Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s 2,600-acre grounds, adding considerable natural beauty to the school’s main Blacksburg, Virginia campus. Maples and dwarf conifers grace the lush, almost six-acre cultivated space, as do eye-catching wisteria flowers and a fish-filled stream that is 200 feet long. Also remarkable are grand buildings such as the university’s signature structure, the castle-like Burruss Hall. This edifice was designed by Richmond, Virginia-based architects Carneal, Johnston & Wright, was completed in 1936, and acts as a magnificent hub for Virginia Tech’s administrative facilities. The institution itself was set up in 1872 as Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College following an acquisition of 40 acres of land that still makes up part of the current site.
51. Flagler College – St. Augustine, Florida
Flagler College’s magnificent Ponce de León Hall is the architectural nexus of the St. Augustine, Florida-based school. Originally a luxury hotel, opened in 1888, the Spanish Renaissance Revival edifice – replete with sumptuous Tiffany crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows – is spectacular both inside and out. New York-based architects Carrère and Hastings were responsible for the design of the building, which was the first of note in the U.S. to be made of “poured-in-place concrete.” The property was acquired by Flagler College shortly after the academic institution’s establishment in 1968. In the intervening period, much of the historic 19-acre campus has been gradually restored. The result: Flagler is a truly grand looking place at which to study.
50. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, Ohio
What Travel + Leisure has termed a “strikingly modern look” marks out the two campuses of the University of Cincinnati in style. The university’s pledge to commission new buildings designed by leading architects has led to some arresting – and often beautiful – structures across its 473 total acres. Chief among these is the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, a collaborative effort by famous Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry and Ohio-based firm BHDP. Completed in 1999, the center attracts the eye with its distinctive, squat red brick sections. Alumnus Michael Graves designed the equally remarkable Engineering Research Center, which was finished in 1994 and rather playfully resembles a four-cylinder engine. The University of Cincinnati began life as the Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio in 1819, getting chartered in 1870 and relocating to its current campus in the Heights area of Cincinnati in 1893.
49. University of Colorado Boulder – Boulder, Colorado
Many of the buildings at the University of Colorado Boulder owe their distinctive appearance to Charles Klauder. The Philadelphia-born architect threw off the institution’s previously established Collegiate Gothic style to create a more natural, somewhat rugged but still beautiful look for the main Boulder campus. Klauder’s designs are what have been referred to as Tuscan Vernacular Revival, with local sandstone, limestone embellishments and roofs of red tile used to visually magnificent effect. Some splendid, more traditional looking structures do remain, though. Most notable among these is historic Old Main – the first building on campus – designed by Erastus H. Dimick and completed in 1876, the year of the school’s establishment. The city of Boulder itself nestles at the bottom of the Rocky Mountains Foothills, ensuring there are outstanding views for miles around of the mountain range’s peaks.
48. University of California, Santa Barbara – Santa Barbara, California
University of California, Santa Barbara students can bask in the sun on their very own beach thanks to the campus’ location at the edge of the Pacific Ocean – with the shoreline surely the perfect place to wind down after a heavy session hitting the books. A lagoon is yet another distinctive and eye-catching feature of the university’s 1,055-acre grounds, which also boast extensive cycling and hiking trails and stunning views of the Channel Islands of California. The University of California, Santa Barbara’s roots date back to 1891, when the Anna Blake School was founded. This institution developed into the Santa Barbara State Normal School, the Santa Barbara State College and then the Santa Barbara College of the University of California before acquiring its current Santa Barbara campus in 1949. The university got its present moniker in 1958.
47. Western State Colorado University – Gunnison, Colorado
Western State Colorado University describes itself as providing “a world-class education deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains” – meaning its 130-acre campus in Gunnison, Colorado is ideally placed at the center of arguably one of the most naturally beautiful areas in the country. Moreover, amid the mountains, trees and lushly landscaped green spaces, architectural splendor abounds, too. There are magnificent structures like Taylor Hall, the first hub of the university in its previous incarnation as the Colorado State Normal School for Children. Built in three phases from 1910, the hall was completed in its first form in 1929 – although it received a renovation in 2011 to bring it bang up to date. Even so, the elegant original pillared entrance still remains at the north end of the building. The Colorado State Normal School for Children became Western State College in 1923, with the institution finally receiving its present name in 2012.
46. Rollins College – Winter Park, Florida
Stunning Lake Virginia is only a stone’s throw away from the 80-acre campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. And in keeping with the warm climate of the area – the average high rarely drops below 70° F throughout the year – the grounds are packed full of Spanish Mediterranean-style buildings and even boast an outdoor swimming pool. One fine structure in particular bucks the architectural trend, though: Pinehurst Cottage. Conceived by Vermont-born George D. Rand, the cottage adds rustic splendor thanks to its wooden walls and rafters. Pinehurst was completed in 1886, becoming the second building on campus after the college was founded the previous year. It is now the oldest structure still standing at the institution. Back when, as now, it served as a dormitory – although it was originally for women only, whereas now it’s co-ed.
45. Northwestern University – Evanston, Illinois
Northwestern University’s main 240-acre campus in Evanston, Illinois sits on the edge of beautiful Lake Michigan. The location is thus a big draw for those who love yachting, kayaking and diving – or who just enjoy having a picturesque spot in which to sit and think. Amid expanses of green, trees and flowers, buildings like the historic University Hall add plenty of grandeur. An imposing presence, University Hall is a Victorian Gothic-style Joliet limestone edifice completed in 1869, based on the designs of Chicago architect Gurdon P. Randall. Culture vultures, meanwhile, can revel in the Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden, which features works by noted artists including Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Joan Miró. Northwestern University was founded in 1851 and also has campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar.
44. Bard College – Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
The architecture of Bard College’s 540-acre campus is an intriguing blend of the old and the new, with both Collegiate Gothic and postmodern aesthetics in evidence. Perhaps one of the most striking buildings is the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts with its undulating metal-plate roof: an unmistakable Frank Gehry creation that opened in 2003. Elsewhere on the pretty, tree-lined North Campus is the magnificent Ward Manor; now home to a café and dorm, this complex adds elegance thanks to its Tudor Revival-style looks, courtesy of a design by Francis Laurens Vinton Hoppin. Bard College started its life in 1860 as St. Stephen’s College, receiving its present name in 1934 and growing its campus through the acquisition of several nearby country estates.
43. University of Wisconsin-Madison – Madison, Wisconsin
For those who like their sailing, windsurfing or wakeboarding, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is ideally placed, as the school’s 936-acre campus lies right in between the magnificent bodies of water that are Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. Fans of elegant architecture can also get their fill here with the likes of iconic Bascom Hill – the lovely main quad that combines Romanesque and Gothic elements and acts as an eye-catching focal point. The quad is overlooked by Bascom Hall, a William Tinsley-designed structure that opened its doors to learners in 1859. The university itself was established in 1848, and its current campus was selected not long after that. A botanic garden also adds a burst of beautiful verdure to the grounds, with in excess of 500 species of shrubs, trees and plants making it the perfect spot for lovers of flora.
42. Florida Southern College – Lakeland, Florida
Florida Southern College is notable for its collection of buildings by influential American architect Frank Lloyd Wright; the largest number featured in a single location in the world. This may have contributed to The Princeton Review naming the college’s 100-acre campus as the most beautiful in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012. There are certainly some magnificent gems among Wright’s works at Florida Southern – not least, Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. As the first of the architect’s structures to be built here – with a little help from the school’s student body – the chapel was dedicated in 1941. The eye-catching geometric concrete facade of the church is perforated by colored glass, adding visual appeal and allowing multihued light to enter the building. After several relocations following its foundation as South Florida Institute in 1856, the college settled at its current Lakeland campus in 1922.
41. University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The University of Alabama’s 1,970-acre campus in Tuscaloosa hasn’t always been a beautiful place in which to live. In 1865, towards the end of the American Civil War, and 34 years after the school was founded, Union soldiers decimated the area by setting fire to it. Just four of the original buildings on campus endured. Among the remaining structures was the President’s Mansion, a lovely Greek Revival-style edifice complete with Ionic columns and locally made red brick that – as its name suggests – has played host to the university’s presidents since it was finished in 1841. Designed by architect Michael Barry, the mansion has been on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 1972. The elegant Shelby Hall, although seemingly classical in appearance, is a much more recent addition, having been completed in 2004. Shelby houses several academic centers, research alliances and the department of chemistry.
40. St. Olaf College – Northfield, Minnesota
Magnificent Old Main is one of the highlights of St. Olaf College’s picturesque 920-acre campus in Northfield, Minnesota. The lovely Gothic-style building was completed in 1877, becoming the first structure on the college’s grounds after the school was founded in 1874. Designed by Charles F. Haglin and F.B. Long, the edifice originally housed a plethora of facilities such as a dining hall, student and staff accommodation and a library; today, one the other hand, it plays host to the department of religion. Elegant maple trees grace the campus, too, and they’re not only beautiful, but also useful from a culinary point of view. Yes, at least one St. Olaf student has used their sap to make maple syrup.
39. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a haven for nature-lovers thanks to its stunning botanical garden, which is spread across around 700 acres. There, students and visitors alike can bask in the surrounding beauty while enjoying the garden’s 14 collections – home to thousands of varieties of plant life, including some carnivorous species. Lovely architecture also graces the 729-acre campus proper, not least the famous Old Well, a neoclassical rotunda that is said to bestow good luck on all those who sip from its water fountain. The well was the brainchild of previous school registrar Eugene Lewis Harris and was completed in 1897. Moreover, it is now designated an American Society of Landscape Architects’ National Landmark for Outstanding Landscape Architecture. One of the earliest public tertiary schools to be founded in the U.S., the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was set up in 1789.
38. Swarthmore College – Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
There’s perhaps no more beautiful place for basking in the sun at Swarthmore College than the institution’s nationally registered Scott Arboretum, which exhibits thousands of ornamental plant species. The arboretum is an oasis of green that makes the already attractive 425-acre campus of the Swarthmore, Pennsylvania-based school even more appealing, boasting as it does groups of lilacs and hydrangeas plus a host of trees. The outdoor amphitheater, too, is a stunning feature: grass-covered stone tiers spill gently downwards, providing the perfect spot in which to sit and marvel at nature. Meanwhile, the magnificent Parrish Hall – once home to the college in its entirety, following its establishment in 1864 – is one of the campus’ architectural highlights. Originally designed by Philadelphian architect Addison Hutton, the first Parrish Hall unfortunately perished in a fire in 1881. Still, its grand replacement, continues to be home to residence hall rooms in addition to administrative offices, a post office and the student newspaper The Phoenix, among other things.
37. University of California, Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz, California
The views alone are perhaps a good enough reason to visit the University of California, Santa Cruz’s roughly 2,000-acre campus. The grounds are set amid the Santa Cruz Mountains and boast breathtaking vistas of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. However, there are many other splendid outdoor and visual highlights of this university, which was founded in 1965. Among the location’s most notable features is Porter Caves, a trio of caverns that enable Santa Cruz students to spend their days off spelunking without ever leaving campus. Even heavy-duty study is made more appealing through walkways such as the McHenry Bridge, which links the McHenry Library with the Hahn Student Services Building via a beautiful canopy of trees.
36. Pennsylvania State University – State College, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State University has an amazing 24 campuses in total, but the institution’s biggest – and perhaps most beautiful – is its University Park location in State College. This 5,448-acre area includes the campus’ famed Mall, through which students can amble to class from Pattee Library, down a walkway lined with elms that have earned their own spot in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. In the words of a Penn State Press university guide, during the summer and fall months “the elms’ branches overhead create a dappled and leafy tunnel” – a lovely sight that may take the sting ever so slightly out of hitting the books. Pennsylvania State started off life in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania, becoming the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania seven years later and Pennsylvania State College from 1874 until 1953.
35. University of San Diego – San Diego, California
It’s worth taking a trip to the University of San Diego just to see the magnificent Immaculata Church, which adds both grandeur and beauty to the school’s 180-acre campus. Constructed by the Diocese of San Diego and receiving its dedication in 1959, it’s an architectural marvel, whatever your religious stripe. Particularly noteworthy are the church’s opulent entrance – which boasts a door made out of solid bronze – and the Spanish-inspired touches everywhere from the red-tiled roof to the mosaicked dome. Many of the other buildings on the San Diego campus also nod to Europe, thanks to a Spanish Renaissance architectural style that harks back to the 16th century. The University of San Diego is one of the youngest schools on this list, having been established in 1949 as the San Diego College for Women; the institution then became co-ed in 1972.
34. The College of William & Mary in Virginia – Williamsburg, Virginia
One of the College of William & Mary in Virginia’s most attractive spots was originally never intended to get off the drawing board. The Sunken Garden – a beautiful expanse of grass across the center of the school’s Old Campus – was designed by Virginia-born architect Charles M. Robinson in the early 1920s. However, its development was delayed not long afterwards owing to fears about its cost. Fortunately for lovers of aesthetically stunning college campuses, the garden got the go-ahead in the early 1930s and was finished in 1936. Crim Dell pond, with its trademark bridge, is another lovely green place that brings prettiness to the 1,200-acre grounds. Meanwhile, the magnificent Wren Building, the work of acclaimed British architect Christopher Wren, is one of the architectural highlights. Completed in 1700, seven years after the college’s foundation, the structure is the oldest academic building to have been used uninterruptedly in the U.S.
33. Sweet Briar College – Sweet Briar, Virginia
An amazing 21 out of the 30 buildings on Sweet Briar College’s campus have collectively been listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Such an honor isn’t easily attained; yet walking across the 3,250-acre grounds, it’s perhaps easy to see why the edifices have been included. Greeting the eye are the outstanding likes of Mary K. Benedict Hall – which was originally completed in 1906 and features elegant Beaux-Arts elements. The hall is just one of many structures on campus designed by Ralph Adams Cram; and what’s more, the lush grounds – close to the Blue Ridge Mountains – are full of natural splendor, dotted with green areas and trees. The liberal arts all-women’s school was established in 1901.
32. Emory University – Druid Hills, Georgia
The president of Emory University resides in the enviably magnificent Lullwater House, one of the many highlights on the school’s 631-acre campus in Druid Hills, Georgia. Constructed in 1926, the splendid mansion combines both Tudor and Gothic Revival architectural elements in a design conceived by Atlanta-based architects Ivey and Crook. The building sits on the Lullwater Preserve – itself a draw for its walking trails, woods and Candler Lake. Hence, it’s the perfect place for studying in beautiful surroundings or just kicking back and getting away from it all. Emory University received its charter in 1836, opening to just 15 sophomores and freshmen two years later in Oxford, Georgia. The school moved to its current home in metropolitan Atlanta in 1915.
31. Lewis & Clark College – Portland, Oregon
Set at the top of a hill and surrounded by plentiful woods, Lewis & Clark College’s campus has a lot of beautiful scenery packed into its 137 acres. The Portland, Oregon-located school is focused around the quaint, rather rustic-looking Frank Manor House, which was designed by local architect Herman Brookman and originally completed in 1924 as a mansion with 35 rooms. The institution purchased the surrounding estate in 1942, around the time that it became Lewis & Clark College. Today, the Tudor-style manor house still acts as a stunning cornerstone of the campus, replete with its own constructed waterfall and reflection pool on the rear terrace. Lewis & Clark College was officially established in Albany, Oregon in 1867 as Albany Collegiate Institute, switching locations to Portland in 1938.
30. Furman University – Greenville, South Carolina
Furman University’s campus has had the honor of being listed among the United States’ most beautiful sites by the American Society of Landscape Architects. Walking through the school’s 750-acre grounds, it’s easy to see why: gorgeous foliage covers the place, giving it a picturesquely leafy look, while elegant Georgian-inspired buildings dot the landscape. The natural splendor of Furman prompted Forbes to comment, “Even if it wasn’t a college, the natural beauty of the lush South Carolina landscape, Asia-inspired gardens and sparkling lake at Furman University would be deemed postcard perfect.” Students at Furman are obliged to dwell on campus until their senior year, but given the area’s attractiveness, that might not be too much of a hardship. The institution itself was established as Furman Academy and Theological Institution in 1825, although classes began at its current location in Greenville, South Carolina much later, in 1958.
29. Duke University – Durham, North Carolina
Travel + Leisure has described Duke University’s West Campus as a “Collegiate Gothic wonderland,” thanks to its awe-inspiring array of majestic buildings. Perhaps the grandest of them all is Duke Chapel, which seems to pierce the sky with its quartet of spires – a towering landmark on the 8,470-acre grounds of the Durham, North Carolina-situated university. The 210-foot marvel was the work of Philadelphian Julian Abele, head architect at local firm Horace Trumbauer at the time of construction. The edifice bears all the hallmarks of the elegant Collegiate Gothic style – such as pointed arches and oversized stones – as well as a bell tower that attractively combines both North Carolinian stone and limestone trim. The chapel was completed in 1932 and still acts as a place of worship for Duke’s student body today.
28. University of Mississippi – Oxford, Mississippi
With its mix of elegant architecture and large expanses of greenery covering more than 2,000 acres, the University of Mississippi’s main campus ought to impress anybody who visits. The Oxford-based school opened in the city back in 1848, and its original academic structure, the beautiful Greek Revival-style Lyceum, still serves as a campus landmark. Now acting as the administrative hub of the university, the Lyceum was completed in 1848, based on the designs of British-born architect William Nichols, Sr. Elsewhere, for those looking to be more at one with nature, there is the stunning Bailey’s Woods Trail, which in roughly 20 minutes takes walkers from University Museum, through paths dotted with trees and plant life, to the historic former abode of author William Faulkner.
27. Washington University in St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853, but it wasn’t until 1905 that its main Danforth Campus in the suburbs of St. Louis was occupied. Philadelphia architects Cope and Stewardson were responsible for the design of the then 103-acre grounds, including grand Collegiate Gothic-style buildings in the vein of those at English universities Cambridge and Oxford. Chief among these edifices is the majestic Brookings Hall, which was completed in 1902 and sits amid the attractive greenery of the Danforth Campus – since expanded to 169 acres. Elsewhere, the Benjamin Brown Graham Chapel impresses with its magnificent red granite stone and stunning stained-glass window. The chapel was inaugurated in 1909 and is said to echo its counterpart at prestigious British boarding school Eton College.
26. Harvard University – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest place of higher education in the U.S and regularly features at or towards the top of lists of the world’s best universities. Such a prestigious institution ought to have an impressive location to match, and its main campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts doesn’t disappoint. Beautiful buildings abound in the 209-acre site, with the High Victorian Gothic Memorial Hall – completed in 1877 and later designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark – one of the very best. Alumni Henry Van Brunt and William Robert Ware were responsible for the hall’s magnificent multicolored design, which was dubbed “a great, bristling brick Valhalla” by none other than celebrated American-born author and former Harvard Law School student Henry James.
25. Rhodes College – Memphis, Tennessee
According to educational guide Colleges That Change Lives, Memphis, Tennessee’s Rhodes College possesses an “elegant, Oxford-like campus of lovely grounds and Collegiate Gothic buildings with leaded glass windows.” What’s more, newer buildings have been following their predecessors’ lead in terms of style – like the West Village dorm, finished in 2012 and also bearing a Gothic Revival form. This is perhaps a wise choice, as 13 structures and areas on the 100-acre campus have earned a spot on the U.S. National Register of Historic Buildings. Among the edifices is Palmer Hall, which was completed in 1925 to a design by Philadelphian architects Charles Klauder and Henry Hibbs. Rhodes College started off life in 1848 as the Masonic University of Tennessee and was originally based in Clarksville. The relocation to Memphis came in 1925, and after a succession of name changes the college adopted its present moniker in 1984.
24. Vanderbilt University – Nashville, Tennessee
The oldest area of Vanderbilt University’s 330-acre campus is famed for its large expanses of trees and general verdure. In fact, the grounds are recognized as an arboretum, and almost 200 varieties of shrubs and trees are at hand. Among these is the amazing Bicentennial Oak, which dates back to before the American Revolution. The university itself isn’t quite that old, though, having been founded in 1873 in Nashville, Tennessee. At the school’s Peabody location, splendid buildings impress – like the Faye and Joe Wyatt Center for Education, which opened in 1915 and is replete with a decorative rotunda. Vanderbilt’s grounds also feature Old Main, which was originally constructed in 1875 but fell victim to a fire in 1905. However, in spite of this mishap, it was rebuilt in its present magnificent state and now, as Kirkland Hall, functions as the administrative center of the university.
23. Vassar College – Poughkeepsie, New York
Vassar College crams a lot of beauty into its 1,000 acres, with splendor of both the natural and man-made kinds. Greenery is seemingly everywhere to be found; yet it’s small wonder, as the campus of the Poughkeepsie, New York-based college is an official arboretum, home to hundreds of different kinds of trees, as well as indigenous plant and ecological preserves. Elsewhere, in excess of 100 buildings show off the work of some noted architects in an array of eye-catching styles – yet perhaps no edifice is more beautiful than the castle-like Thompson Memorial Library. The library is an iconic Perpendicular Gothic creation that was designed by architects Allen & Collins and completed in 1905, although it has since been subject to several additions and renovations. Vassar was founded as an all-women’s college in 1861, eventually becoming co-ed in 1969.
22. University of Washington – Seattle, Washington
Forbes says of the University of Washington’s Seattle campus: “Snow-capped mountain views in an urban setting is already a sweet deal. And in Seattle, the University of Washington offers this, and more.” Yes, while being able to see both the awe-inspiring Olympic Mountains and Cascade Range from its 703-acre grounds is undoubtedly a draw, it’s true that there is beauty all over the site – from the cherry blossoms that grace the Quad in spring, to the imposing Tenino sandstone Denny Hall, designed by Charles Saunders in the French Renaissance Revival style. Opened for classes in 1895, Denny Hall acted as the hub of the University of Washington’s new campus after it moved from downtown Seattle that same year. The school was originally established as the Territorial University of Washington in 1861.
21. Kenyon College – Gambier, Ohio
Among the crowning glories of the stunningly verdant Kenyon College campus is Old Kenyon, which is said to be the earliest Collegiate Gothic-style building constructed in the U.S. The edifice was initially completed in 1829 to a design by architect and clergyman Norman Nash, while Charles Bulfinch conceived the steeple. When a fire destroyed the building in 1949, the original blueprint was used to create a full reconstruction of the residence hall – which still stands today. Kenyon College was set up in 1824 and was formerly situated in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Worthington. The school found its present location in Gambier not long afterward, and its campus now spans 1,000 acres.
20. Scripps College – Claremont, California
A taste of the Mediterranean is there for anyone walking through the campus of all-women liberal arts school Scripps College, which is set in the mainly residential city of Claremont, California. While the college grounds only cover 37 acres, it’s an area rich in beauty, not least in the glorious Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings dotted around. These were designed by groundbreaking English-American architect Gordon Kaufmann and are part of a campus masterplan conceived around the time of the college’s founding in 1926. This has since helped earn Scripps a spot on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Orange, grapefruit and kumquat trees flourish throughout the campus, while the blooming rose garden is delightful. At the same time, the Margaret Fowler Garden – replete with a small pond and an appropriately Mediterranean-style wall fountain clad in tiles – provides the perfect place in which to sit and think.
19. Pepperdine University – Malibu, California
With spectacular views across the Pacific Ocean, Malibu, California-based Pepperdine University is the place to be for anyone who loves the water. Palm trees dotted about its main 830-acre campus add a touch of the tropical, while the grounds are also graced with Mediterranean Revival-esque buildings resplendent with white-colored stucco and red-tiled roofs. These structures, along with much of the rest of the site, were the work of Los Angeles architect William Pereira. Moreover, such is their charm that they have helped to earn Pepperdine the prestigious number one spot on The Princeton Review’s ranking of most attractive university campuses in both 2006 and 2007. The school was actually founded in Los Angeles in 1937 but moved to Malibu after the new campus was developed, opening there for student enrollment in 1972.
18. Rice University – Houston, Texas
The campus of Rice University may be relatively diminutive at only 295 acres, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in lush green expanses and stunning wooded areas. Threaded through the grounds is the Lynn R. Lowrey Arboretum, which with its approximately 4,200 shrubs and trees is a treat for any budding botanist – or indeed those who just love to bask in the beauty of nature. On the architectural front, Rice doesn’t disappoint either, thanks to splendid buildings like the iconic Lovett Hall. This Mediterranean-inspired stone and brick edifice was constructed in 1911, based on the designs of noted American architect Ralph Adams Cram and Princeton faculty member and inaugural Rice president Edgar Odell Lovett. The university itself was established in Houston, Texas in 1912.
17. Cornell University – Ithaca, New York
Ivy League institution Cornell University’s main Ithaca campus is set amid gently sloping valleys and is close to Cayuga Lake, meaning magnificent natural views are available to all those looking out over East Hill and beyond. The 4,800-acre grounds are also home to gorges, plentiful trees and generally stunning greenery – and add to this splendid man-made sights in the shape of a number of campus buildings listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. These structures include beautiful Bailey Hall, the university’s most sizable auditorium. Bailey is a Greek Revival-style vision that was built in 1912 to a blueprint by Buffalo, New York-based architect and Cornell alumnus Edward Green. Cornell was founded in 1865 at its current Ithaca location, expanding around a plot of land donated by onetime state senator Ezra Cornell.
16. Yale University – New Haven, Connecticut
Along with Princeton and bitter football rival Harvard, Yale University is considered to be one of the “Big Three” American schools and is among the most prestigious universities in the U.S. It stands to reason, then, that Yale has a suitably splendid 837-acre campus to match its excellent reputation for academics. The grounds are packed full of awe-inspiring structures, like the richly decorated Gothic Revival-style Sterling Memorial Library. Conceived by American architect James Gamble Rogers and completed in 1931, the library is intricately detailed inside and out, with reliefs, gargoyles and thousands of stained-glass windowpanes. Yale’s history dates back to 1701, when it was founded as the Collegiate School; however, it didn’t move to its present New Haven, Connecticut location until 1718, at which point it became Yale College – eventually being renamed Yale University in 1887.
15. Indiana University Bloomington – Bloomington, Indiana
The grounds of Indiana University Bloomington sit on such a rich vein of Indiana limestone, it comes as little surprise to learn that the material figures prominently across the 1,937-acre campus. The iconic Sample Gates, which act as an elegant entry point into the school, are made from this rock. Maxwell Hall – which houses some of the university’s admin offices – also features limestone in its stunning facade and soaring, peaked tower. This attractive Romanesque structure was completed in 1891 to a design by Indiana architect George W. Bunting. Natural beauty is all around as well, with what the university describes as a “modest forest” in Dunn’s Woods – a lovely tree-lined plot of land with walking trails that was bought in 1883 for the school’s new grounds. Indiana University was originally founded in 1820 as the State Seminary and was re-chartered 18 years later.
14. Stanford University – Stanford, California
Visitors to Stanford University’s 8,180-acre Stanford, California campus are greeted in splendor when they head through Palm Drive to its Main Quad. Here, lines of trees give way to expanses of lush lawn and attractive flowerbeds. At the head of the quad is what Stanford itself describes as “the university’s architectural crown jewel,” the Stanford Memorial Church. The church was conceived by Boston-based Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (now Shepley Bulfinch) architect Charles A. Coolidge and was finished in 1903. Romanesque and Byzantine details abound, and the glorious, multicolored mosaic on the facade was designed by Italian firm Salviati & Co. Stanford University was set up in 1885, with the general design of its campus coming courtesy of notable Boston landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.
13. Wellesley College – Wellesley, Massachusetts
Prominent Boston landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. once declared Wellesley College’s campus to be “not merely beautiful, but with a marked individual character not represented so far as I know on the ground of any other college in the country.” Certainly, the 500-acre grounds are naturally stunning, boasting expanses of meadow, woods of deciduous and evergreen trees, and at their edge, the magnificent Lake Waban. At the time of the campus’ planning in 1921, the decision was made to incorporate the Wellesley, Massachusetts-based college into the landscape rather than separate it into quadrangles and courtyards. This has arguably given it a sense of being more at one with the natural environment than most other institutions of its kind. Wellesley was originally chartered in 1870 as the Wellesley Female Seminary, with its name changed to Wellesley College in 1873, two years before classes commenced.
12. Dartmouth College – Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College has beautiful grounds befitting a prestigious Ivy League school. Indeed, former U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower is said to have remarked of Dartmouth’s campus, “This is what a college is supposed to look like.” Trees and verdant spaces are everywhere on the main campus, which is tucked into 269 acres of rural Hanover, New Hampshire. At the site’s center, Dartmouth Green is a lovely grassy area in which to work, rest and play – or even protest. Elsewhere, eye-catching structures add a touch of grandeur, and eminent among these is Rollins Chapel, conceived by Boston architect John L. Faxon and finished in 1885. Still, although Dartmouth’s history is long and illustrious – the school was founded in 1769 – it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Lack of funds was a problem until the early 20th century, when campus and faculty were rejuvenated – helping Dartmouth become the respected academic institution it is today.
11. Colgate University – Hamilton Village, New York
Given the abundance of stunning greenery, attractive architecture and lovely natural features, it’s fitting that Colgate University’s 575-acre campus in Hamilton Village, New York was hailed as the most beautiful in the U.S. for 2010 by The Princeton Review. The grounds are home to around 2,300 trees such as magnificent maples and oaks; the grand Taylor Lake, graced by a pair of swans named Adam and Eve; and an abundance of eye-catching stone buildings. The impressive edifices include the Old Biology Hall, completed in a Romanesque style by C.B. Butler in 1885 and now, as Hascall Hall, playing host to the philosophy and religion department. Colgate University was originally set up in 1819 as the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, in the town of Hamilton. Its current campus was bought in 1826, and the institution was renamed Madison University in 1846 before settling upon its present moniker in 1890.
10. Amherst College – Amherst, Massachusetts
Massachusetts-based Amherst College was founded in 1821, and during the mid-1830s it could lay claim to being the second biggest institution of its kind in the country. Today, its 1,000-acre campus has expanded to encompass over 100 buildings, including exceptionally pretty examples such as the President’s House. Featuring Greek and Georgian Revival elements, this structure was designed by Warren Slade Howland and completed in its first form in 1835. Amherst’s natural highlights are remarkable as well: the campus boasts around 500 acres of untrammeled beauty in its wildlife sanctuary, which incorporates woodlands, fields, wetlands, ponds and the Fort River – all ideal for both research and relaxation.
9. Berry College – Mount Berry, Georgia
Boasting over 27,000 acres in Mount Berry, Georgia’s Berry College holds the honor of having the world’s most sizable contiguous college grounds. That huge expanse holds a wealth of woodlands, meadows, streams and even deer, whose population may number as much as 2,500. For those keen on outdoor pursuits, it’s ideal, offering students the opportunity to cycle, hike or horseback ride across over 80 miles of trails. English Gothic-style buildings give the campus an elegant European air, with some of the structures beautifully reflected in the waters of decorative pools. Equally as impressive are the Mountain Campus’ Mirror and Swan lakes, the latter of which sees the birds it’s named for glide gracefully across its calm waters. Possum Trot Church accommodated Berry College’s predecessor, a school for boys founded in 1902, and the building is still present on the college’s campus.
8. The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa – Honolulu, Hawai’i
The Hawaiian Islands are full of spectacular natural scenery, so it’s only fitting that the University of Hawaii system’s flagship campus, the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, is such an attractive place to visit. Situated in a wealthy residential area of Honolulu, amid a lush valley and within sight of the Koʻolau Range, the 320-acre grounds are also often graced by rainbows thanks to the area’s showery climate. Among clusters of palm trees are some very good-looking buildings, too – such as Hawai’i Hall, which was completed in 1912. The earliest permanent structure on campus, the hall now acts as an academic services and administrative center. The institution itself was founded in 1907, relocating to its current site in 1912.
7. Mount Holyoke College – South Hadley, Massachusetts
Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts boasts truly outstanding sights across its 2,000-acre campus. Yes, within its grounds the women’s liberal arts school features waterfalls, a pair of lakes, woodland trails perfect for riding and a botanic garden. The garden spans the campus and includes a beautiful arboretum and the Talcott Greenhouse, which plays home to an array of tropical and warm-weather plant life. The school itself traces its origins back to 1837, when it was established as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary – turning into Mount Holyoke Seminary and College in 1888 and finally shortening its name to Mount Holyoke College five years after that. Its originally 800-acre site was designed and developed over 26 years from 1896 by landscape architects Olmsted and Sons.
6. Sewanee: The University of the South – Sewanee, Tennessee
Magnificent Neo-Gothic buildings add a touch of opulent style to the 13,000-acre Sewanee: The University of the South campus, located on the Cumberland Plateau in Middle Tennessee’s southeastern corner. One of the most beautiful of all Sewanee’s edifices is surely All Saints’ Chapel, the work of distinguished American architect Ralph Adams Cram. The building boasts a tower, a rose window and arched ceilings, drawing on design elements from iconic places of worship like the University of Oxford’s University Church and the Notre Dame de Paris. The chapel has had a long development history: construction started in 1905, almost a half-century after the founding of the school in 1857; however, owing to lack of funds it was not finished until 1959. Interestingly, the church’s eventual completion was thanks to the university’s then vice chancellor Edward McCrady, who used Cram’s initial blueprint to help raise the structure that stands on the Sewanee campus today.
5. University of Notre Dame – Notre Dame, Indiana
The gold dome that tops the University of Notre Dame’s Main Building may be the most iconic feature of the school’s 1,250-acre campus, but there are plenty of other magnificent sights to be found on its tree-filled grounds in Notre Dame, Indiana. Among the highlights is the Neo-Gothic Basilica of the Sacred Heart, resplendent with a soaring, national record-breaking bell tower and sizable windows filled with stained glass. The edifice often features on lists of the most stunning university churches in the U.S. Notre Dame’s founder and first president Father Edward Sorin teamed up with Alexis Granger to develop the church’s blueprint, and it was dedicated in 1888. The University of Notre Dame was initially founded as a school for pre-university education in 1842, gaining its charter two years later.
4. Princeton University – Princeton, New Jersey
According to Boston architect Mark deShong, “Princeton has beautiful buildings, but the exquisite landscaping amplifies them even more.” It’s certainly hard to disagree with him when walking across the Princeton, New Jersey-based school’s 500-acre campus, as stunning-looking Collegiate Gothic structures and immaculately tamed green expanses are in abundance. Perhaps the jewel in the crown of the Ivy League institution – at least when it comes to architecture – is the palatial Nassau Hall. The hall has stood in some form since 1756, ten years after the university’s foundation, and has remained a constant feature as the campus has grown around it. Nassau has been no stranger to misfortune, however, as it has burnt down not once but twice – in 1802 and 1855. The building’s present Italian Renaissance-style incarnation comes courtesy of Scottish-American architect John Notman, although it has undergone several renovations within the past century or so.
3. University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
For an environment rich in natural splendor and attractive architecture, prospective students should look no further than the University of Chicago, which has both qualities in abundance at its Chicago-based campus. Elegant Collegiate Gothic structures are dotted across the school’s 211-acre grounds, with a number of them having been based on those found at England’s University of Oxford – itself no slouch in the good looks department. For nature-lovers, too, there’s plenty to explore – not least the university’s own botanic garden, which according to its official website “provide[s] a campus environment rich in horticultural diversity and beauty.” The garden also boasts a pond that’s home to ducks, dragonflies and turtles. The University of Chicago itself was established in 1890, and its grounds were built around a donation of land from American businessman Marshall Field.
2. Bryn Mawr College – Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
According to Bryn Mawr College’s website, the school’s grounds contain some of the earliest instances of Collegiate Gothic architecture, which we’re informed “served as templates for dozens of other campuses.” Certainly, as far as beautiful spaces go, other institutions of higher learning couldn’t go far wrong if they followed Bryn Mawr’s example. The campus has a profusion of both lush foliage and awe-inspiring architecture. There’s even a picture-perfect duck pond nestled within the grounds, surrounded on all sides by abundant trees. The women’s liberal arts college was founded in 1885, and the idyllic 135-acre site in which it sits was partly the creation of renowned landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
1. University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia
The University of Virginia could be said to have the presidential touch, as Founding Father Thomas Jefferson was responsible for its conception and – after the school’s establishment in 1819 – the development of its awe-inspiring campus. Jefferson’s original vision still makes an impact on the University of Virginia’s now 1,682-acre grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, most notably through the stunning, Palladian-style Rotunda – which in its design draws inspiration from Rome’s celebrated Pantheon. Finished in 1826, the Rotunda holds the honor of being among just a trio of man-made modern U.S. structures to be designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 1976 the campus as a whole was also named “the proudest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years” by the American Institute of Architects.