Top 25 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the USA

Last Updated on December 03, 2022 by Nikki Jain

Looking for the most beautiful college campuses in the USA? Look no further! This list features the prettiest college campuses based on architecture, natural scenery, and overall student experience.

Prospective college students have a lot to consider when choosing their university. There’s academic reputation, affordability, sports teams, and culture. But a beautiful campus is enough to sway high school students from prospects to full-on commits.

America is loaded with beautiful college campuses from coast to coast. However, there are a few campuses that rise above the rest when it comes to magnificence.

These campuses combine impressive architecture with gorgeous landscapes to make a picturesque college campus.

Here are the 25 most beautiful college campuses in the United States.

Most Beautiful College Campuses in America

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1: Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Main Quad at Stanford University - One of the most beautiful college campuses | Dreamstime/Andreistanescu

Stanford University is truly one-of-a-kind. Its sprawling 8,180-acre campus is nestled in the renowned San Francisco Bay in Palo Alto.

In addition to being one of the largest college campuses, Stanford is home to some of the most amazing architecture in the United States.

Stanford’s Memorial Church and Cantor Arts Center are architectural achievements worthy of a textbook. Nothing compares, however, to the Hoover Tower. It’s an observation platform with clear views of the gorgeous San Francisco bay.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Stanford University

Address: 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305


2: University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
The University of Virginia at night | Dreamstime/Demerzel21

What do the Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis, and the University of Virginia have in common? They are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites honored for their cultural significance.

Thomas Jefferson conceived the University of Virginia in an attempt to reinvent higher education. The result was a symbol of both American higher education and beauty.

The University of Virginia is home to classic architecture - the Rotunda, the crown jewel of Jefferson’s Academical Village.

It really is one of the most beautiful campuses in the US.

Accommodation: Where to stay near University of Virginia

Address: 400 Emmet Street South, Charlottesville, VA 22903


3: Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA

Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA

There’s no denying the beauty of California’s coastal campuses. No campus, however, has views quite like Pepperdine University.

The private Christian campus is located in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway.

In addition to majestic ocean views, Pepperdine is also renowned for its architecture. Most buildings on campus were built in a Mediterranean Revival Style.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Pepperdine University

Address: 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90263


4: Berry College, Mount Berry, GA

Berry College, Mount Berry, GA
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

Berry College may not be a household name, but one look at its campus is enough to put it on the map. This liberal arts college has the world’s largest contiguous college campus.

The sprawling campus includes over 27,000 acres of Georgian woodlands, including scenic streams, meadows, and trees. The campus has a summer camp feel and includes outdoor fireplaces and pristine fitness facilities.

Address: 2277 Martha Berry Hwy NW, Mt Berry, GA 30149


5: Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

Kenyon College, Gambier, OH

Kenyon College is a hidden gem in the heartland of America. This stunning 1,000-acre campus is located 45 miles from Ohio’s state capital.

Kenyon combines modern amenities with classic architecture and natural beauty. The campus even includes a 480-acre nature preserve.

It borders the Kokosing River and includes hiking trails, wetland habitats, and gorgeous stargazing opportunities.

Address: 103 College Rd, Gambier, OH 43022


6: Duke University, Durham, NC

Duke University, Durham, NC

Duke University could be listed twice on this list. That’s because it encompasses two campuses: the Georgian East Campus and the neo-Gothic West Campus.

Duke’s Gothic architecture includes inspired achievements like Duke Chapel and Perkins Library.

Duke is also regarded as a “university in the forest” and spread over 7,200 acres located in the beautiful North Carolina forest.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Duke University

Address: Duke University, Durham, NC 27708


7: Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN

Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, TN

The University of the South is a name that comes with lofty expectations. Fortunately, Sewanee lives up to the hype with its gorgeous rural landscape and Gothic-style buildings.

The 13,000-acre Sewanee campus is located on the Cumberland Plateau in the Tennessee Valley.

Students enjoy many opportunities for campus exploration, including rock climbing, mountain biking, and caving. It is definitely one of the prettiest college campuses in the USA.

Address: 735 University Ave, Sewanee, TN 37383


8: University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Golden Dome on the campus of Notre Dame University - one of the stunning college campuses in America | Dreamstime/Ken Wolter

The University of Notre Dame campus has it all – renowned landmarks, towering Gothic buildings, and a beautiful change of seasons. It’s a classic college campus in the heart of the Midwest. Notre Dame’s most renowned landmark is the Main Building. Built in 1879, it’s a 187-foot structure complete with a 4,000-pound statue of Mary, the Mother of God.

Accommodation: Where to stay near University of Notre Dame

Address: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556


9: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Flickr/Amstrong White

History buffs love Dartmouth College. That’s because the Ivy League research university was established before the American Revolution in 1769.

The campus consists of 269-acres located in the Upper Valley on the Connecticut River.

Dartmouth’s buildings reflect 18th century America, with many of them designed in the Georgian American colonial style.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Dartmouth College

Address: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755


10: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Dreamstime/Gerald D. Tang

Indiana University is home to the “Hoosiers.” While the definition of a Hoosier isn’t clear, what is clear is the beauty of this southern Indiana campus.

The university is located atop a bed of Indiana Limestone and near the Jordan River.

The nearly 2,000-acre campus includes a combination of architecture from the construction era, including the Late Victorian, Gothic, and Romanesque styles.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Indiana University

Address: 107 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405


11: University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

One of America’s beautiful campuses is set in scenic Colorado. The University of Colorado, Boulder, is located just 30 minutes from downtown Denver.

The campus buildings are known for a distinct style known as Tuscan Vernacular Revival.

Additionally, the Norlin Quad is a beautiful focal point of the campus and is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Accommodation: Where to stay near University of Colorado Boulder

Address: University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309


12: Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA

The Northeast’s natural beauty is on full display at Swarthmore College. This private liberal arts college is located just miles away from Philadelphia.

However, the 399-acre campus allows for a scenic getaway from city life.

Swarthmore is known for lush gardens, sprawling lawns, and large stone buildings. The Scott Arboretum, located on campus, is an iconic building that includes over 4,000 ornamental plants.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Swarthmore College

Address: 500 College Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081


13: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Nassau Hall, a national landmark in Princeton University - among the prettiest campuses in USA | Dreamstime/Demerzel21

A trip to Princeton University is a trip to many different times in American history. The campus has been ever-changing since the completion of Nassau Hall in 1756.

Since that time, the campus has added new buildings, including High Victorian Gothic, Romanesque Revival, and Collegiate Gothic styles.

Princeton also includes over 1,600 acres of University-owned land with myriad landscape settings.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Princeton University

Address: Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544


14: Rice University, Houston, TX

Rice University, Houston, TX

Everything is bigger in Texas. That’s especially true at Rice University, located on South Main Street in the Museum District of Houston.

The nearly 300-acre campus includes significant examples of the Mediterranean Revival style with massive archways and towering columns.

The tree-lined campus has over 70 major buildings with impressive architectural features.

Accommodation: Where to stay near Rice University

Address: 6100 Main St, Houston, TX 77005


15: University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

University of California, Santa Barbara, CA

The University of California needs no introduction as one of the most beautiful college campuses in America.

It’s hard to beat over 1,000 acres of oceanfront property. That’s what you get at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The university campus is located atop cliffs with a direct view of the Pacific Ocean. The gorgeous campus includes its lagoon, miles of coastline, and even its own beach.

Accommodation: Where to stay near University of California Santa Barbara

Address: University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106


Also Read: Best Things To Do in Santa Barbara

16: Yale University, New Haven, CT

Yale University, New Haven, CT

Located in downtown New Haven, Yale University's main campus consists of 260 acres of historical buildings.

Yale's design is mainly Collegiate Gothic, featuring iconic buildings styled from the early 1900s. Stone sculptures on the walls add to the atmosphere, with humorous scenes such as a student falling asleep while reading.

Some of the buildings are faux-aged, featuring windows aged with acid and empty statue placeholders to simulate the appearance of Middle Ages architecture and vandalism over the ages.

Address: New Haven, CT 06520


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New Haven

17: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

The campus of Vanderbilt University is so magnificent you might think you're in a forest, not on a college campus. The 340-acre campus is an idyllic landscape of gorgeous greenery and fall colors.

Best of all, Vanderbilt has the pleasure of having the city of Nashville in its backyard, making this the perfect campus for students who want to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes of a park-like campus while still having ready access to city amenities.

The campus also features natural wonders, such as the famous Bicentennial Oak near Buttrick Hall, which predates the Revolutionary War.

The designs of each of the buildings are eccentric, with varying styles throughout the decades showcased on-campus, making this diverse wonderland one of the most beautiful college campuses.

Address: 2201 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37235


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Nashville

18: Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT

Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
Dreamstime/Judith A. Brown

A private liberal arts college in Middlebury, this college campus consists of 350 acres of gorgeous quads and open spaces.

You can see the awe-inspiring Green Mountains and the Adirondacks on the horizon, and the iconic granite, marble, and limestone buildings will make you feel as though you just walked out of a storybook.

In fact, some of the buildings on Old Stone Row are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, namely the Old Chapel, Painter Hall, and Starr Hall.

Adding to the intrinsic beauty, the Middlebury College Museum of Art features a wide collection of Asian, European, and American art on display.

Surrounded by neatly-kept grounds and basking in the poetic Vermont atmosphere, Middlebury College is a gorgeous place if you're looking for the most beautiful universities in the US.

Address: 14 Old Chapel Rd, Middlebury, VT 05753


19: Bard College, New York

Bard College, New York
Dreamstime/Brian Logan

Located in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York, this campus has breathtaking views overlooking the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains.

The college itself is, believe it or not, a National Historic Landmark. The sprawling landscape of nearly 1000 acres contains more than 70 buildings, each a testament to the college's 160-year history.

The designs of the buildings play into the picturesque scene, with campus buildings largely paying homage to the Collegiate Gothic and Postmodern styles famous in the mid-1800s.

Indeed, the college is adjacent to a historic mansion, farm, and surrounding buildings that are historically preserved, making it one of the prettiest college campuses in the USA.

Address: 30 Campus Rd, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in New York City

20: College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA

The second-oldest institution of higher education in the US and ranking in the top 10 in the entire English-speaking world, the College of William & Mary has a rich historical and geographical landscape.

The college has seen its fair share of influential figures, with recognizable names like Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler passing through its halls.

The 1200-acre college is massive and well-kept, but the true beauty of the space lies in its history. For example, the Sir Christopher Wren Building is the oldest college building in the US, considered a National Historic Landmark.

For students of history (and, well, just about any other subject), the College of William & Mary is an iconic place to learn and one of the nicest college campuses in the USA.

Address: Sadler Center, 200 Stadium Dr, Williamsburg, VA 23185


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Williamsburg

21: The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, the University of Chicago regularly receives accolades as one of the best universities in the world and the most prestigious in the US.

The main campus is 217 acres and sprawls across the Chicago neighborhoods of Woodlawn and Hyde Park, just south of downtown Chicago.

The dormitories, academic buildings, and other structures are a blend of Gothic and modern styles, creating a ‘worlds collide’ motif to the campus.

Seeing the high spires of Gothic architecture and the hard edges of modern styles stretch across the skyline is a sight to behold, making the University of Chicago one of the best college campuses in the US.

Address: 5801 S Ellis Ave, Chicago, IL 60637


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago

22: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Dreamstime/Songquan Deng

Founded in 1636, Harvard University’s 209-acre campus centers on Harvard Yard, just 3 miles northwest of Boston. Dormitories are located adjacent to the yard, and upperclassmen generally live in one of the twelve residential houses.

Just across the Charles River, the Harvard Business School sits on its own 358-acre campus in Allston, while the medicine, dental medicine, and public health campus are near the Longwood area.

Address: Cambridge, MA


23: Brown University, Providence, RI

Brown University, Providence, RI
Dreamstime/Ken Wolter

Brown University is one of the oldest colleges in the United States. As such, its historical design is reflected in the campus architecture.

The main campus comprises 235 buildings over 143 acres. Located just in the neighborhood of College Hill, Brown University is a historical paradise featuring some of the most detailed archives relating to the colonization of the Americas.

The Walk, Brown's pedestrian corridor, is an iconic landscaped area punctuated by deciduous trees and bordered by architecturally rich buildings.

Address: Providence, RI 02912


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Providence

24: United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD

United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD
Dreamstime/Olivier Le Queinec

The United States Naval Academy is a 340-acre campus with lots of significant historical buildings, including Bancroft Hall, the largest college dormitory in the world.

Along with its historic architecture, the campus also features the oldest military monument in the US, honoring the servicemen of the First Barbary War.

If you want to visit, Memorial Hall is open to the public to commemorate graduates who have died in service.

Address: 52 King George St. Annapolis, MD 21402


25: Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR

Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR
Facebook/Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark College has a 137-acre campus that looks like an enchanted forest. Sitting atop Palatine Hill, the entire campus is nestled among the Tryon Creek State Natural Area.

Above all, the blending of the architecture with the natural greenery is just plain gorgeous, earning the campus a reputation among the top ten Most Beautiful Campuses, as determined by the Princeton Review.

Address: 615 SW Palatine Hill Rd, Portland, OR 97219


Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Portland

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the prettiest college campus in America?

There are many beautiful college campuses in America, but the most pretty is Stanford University. The grounds are lovely, and the architecture is stunning. The ivy-covered buildings and red-roofed Spanish tile roofs are unique and eye-catching. The flowers and trees are well-manicured and add to the already gorgeous scenery. It's no wonder Stanford is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world.

What are the most modern college campuses in the USA?

The most modern college campuses in the USA are those that have been designed with the latest technology and amenities in mind. Some of the most modern college campuses in the USA include the University of Michigan, Duke University, and Stanford University. These campuses feature state-of-the-art buildings, cutting-edge research facilities, and a wide range of student services.

Which college has the happiest students?

According to a recent study, Vanderbilt University has the happiest students in the United States. Vanderbilt students averaged a score of 8.8 out of 10, which is significantly higher than the national average of 5.4. This is believed to be due to a number of factors, including the university's strong academic reputation, its beautiful campus, and its supportive community.

Final thoughts on the best college campuses in the USA

There are many college campuses across America that are standouts for their beauty, history, or location. It can be hard to decide who takes the title of the best campus in the USA. 

Each campus has something unique to offer, whether it’s the stunning views of the California coast at UC Santa Barbara or the bustling city life surrounding NYU.

So if you're looking for the best of the best, look no further than these colleges.

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