From stunning views to surrounding beaches, college campuses in the United States are diverse and beautiful. While programs and athletics commonly draw students to specific colleges, it is also often the campus itself that can help make up a potential studentís mind.
When it comes to a great college, looks are definitely important. So-called dream colleges like Stanford, Harvard, and Yale are all known for their gorgeous green terrain. While it is a good way to attract students looking at the college, a beautiful campus can also provide current students with a spot to relax while they study or spend time with friends.
A recent poll by The Best Colleges shows that students who graduate from beautiful campuses generally report a higher overall satisfaction with their college experience.
If youíre looking at colleges, consider these 51 most beautiful college campuses in America.
#1 – Dominican University
Location: River Forest, Illinois
Dominican University was founded in 1901 as St. Clara College. It features a 30-acre wooded campus just seven miles from downtown Chicago. Students can often be seen in the Rebecca Crown Library, which holds 300,000 materials and assists students through a fully equipped resource center.
#2 – University of Washington
Location: Seattle, Washington
The University of Washington is located in the heart of Seattle. Students enjoy breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, the Cascade mountain range, and the Olympic Mountains. The blooming cherry trees on the campus quad provide students with a beautiful relaxing atmosphere between classes.
#3 – Pepperdine University
Location: Malibu, California
Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway. It is often called one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States. Most buildings feature a Mediterranean Revival Style architecture. One of the most recognizable buildings at Pepperdine is the Phillips Theme Tower.
#4 – Cornell University
Location: Ithaca, New York
Cornell was founded in 1865 and features several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The campus sits on a hill among the rolling valleys of the Finger Lakes region in New York. The original campus was donated by New York State Senator Ezra Cornell, who offered his farm and $500,000 of his fortune as an initial endowment. Along with the campus, students at Cornell enjoy hiking and swimming in nearby Fall Creek Gorge and Cascadilla Gorge.
#5 – University of Notre Dame
Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
This college’s 1,250 acre campus is divided into the ìOld Campusî area and new. The older section is controlled by two seminaries, while the other part is dedicated toward other studies. A statue of the Virgin Mary built in 1896 blesses the Grotto and the Golden Dome, which inspired the collegeís football helmets, is located atop the main building on campus.
#6 – Kenyon College
Location: Gambier, Ohio
Kenyon College is the oldest private college in Ohio. Founded in 1824, the campus features Gothic Revival architecture. Several buildings at Kenyon inspired designers around the country. Old Kenyon Hall, built in 1827, is believed to be the oldest Gothic Revival building in the United States.
#7 – Florida State University
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Florida State University boasts several historical ìSouthern Styleî dorms and buildings, along with the old Heritage Tower. The Heritage Grove is arguably the most interesting section of campus. It features several buildings and sports complexes, among them the Westcott building.
#8 – Colgate University
Location: Hamilton, New York
Colgate University is located on 575 acres of hills and trees in Hamilton Village, New York. The university also owns another 1,100 acres of undeveloped forested lands. Students and faculty built the collegeís first building, West Hall, using the collegeís rock quarry. Almost all buildings at Colgate are made of stone.
#9 – Duke University
Location: Durham, North Carolina
While Duke University claims honors as a top learning institution, students also enjoy a gorgeous 8,600 acre campus. Almost every building on the west side of campus was constructed in the Collegiate Gothic style, while some of the east side campus buildings lean more toward the Georgian style. Nature lovers can also explore Duke Forest, a 700 acre section of woods that is used for science research.
#10 – Princeton University
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Princetonís gray stone buildings are renowned and are part of one of the oldest colleges in America. Nassau Hall, the oldest building at Princeton, was built in 1754. The Princeton University Chapel is the third largest college chapel in the world. Lake Carnegie, donated by Andrew Carnegie, was originally designated for rowing, but now serves as a campus gathering point.
#11 – University of San Diego
Location: San Diego, California
The University of San Diego isnít as old as Princeton or Yale, but it still boasts beautiful views of the San Diego Harbor and La Jolla. Almost every building was built in the 16th-century Spanish Renaissance architectural style. The small private school also offers views of the Pacific Ocean from the Alcala Park portion of campus.
#12 – College of William and Mary
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
Even though the College of William and Mary is considered an ìoldî campus, it is leading the way for East Coast schools in the realm of global sustainability. Cozy wooded areas are a must see, including the Crim Dell pond. Most of the schoolís buildings were based on Georgian and Anglo-Dutch architecture. The campusís highlight is the Christopher Wren building, the oldest collegiate building in the country.
#13 – Vassar College
Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
While Vassar College was originally founded in 1861 as an all-girls school, it became coeducational in 1969. The schoolís 100-plus buildings have varied architecture from Collegiate Gothic to International styles. They were designed over the course of Vassarís history by a range of well-known architects. Two buildings are listed as National Historic Landmarks and another is a National Historic Place. Main Building, designed by James Renwick Jr., initially housed the entire college.
#14 – Stanford University
Location: Stanford, California
Stanford students stroll through the collegeís 8,000 acre campus, which features views of the San Francisco Bay. The majority of the schoolís buildings were destroyed in the powerful 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The original buildings featured red tile roofs and sandstone masonry common in the Mission Revival style. Another earthquake in 1989 damaged the campus again. The earthquake caused the school to spend more than a billion dollars updating the campus for better earthquake protection.
#15 – University of Colorado Boulder
Location: Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado Boulder was founded in 1876, just five months before Colorado was admitted to the union. The campus features a distinctive architectural style known as Tuscan Vernacular Revival. It was designed by Charles Klauder and features textured sandstone walls with multi-leveled red tile roofs. The sandstone used in construction was taken from front range mountain quarries nearby.
#16 – Wake Forest University
Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Wake Forest was established north of Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1834. The schoolís main campus moved to downtown Winston-Salem in 1956. The schoolís T.K. Hearn Plaza (also known as the Quad) is the hub for student life. Social gathering is often seen there, along with the infamous ìRolling the Quad,î performed after major sports victories. Buildings on campus pull from regional architectural influences.
#17 – University of Mississippi
Location: Oxford, Mississippi
Ole Miss is truly a southern university. The campus showcases classic buildings that are steeped in tradition. The oldest building at Ole Miss is the Lycecum and is pictured on the schoolís official crest. The School of Medicine was used as a Civil War hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers. Students gather at the Grove before every football game in the fall. Tents are added to the grove of oak, elm, and magnolia trees on fall Saturdays.
#18 – University of Michigan
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
University of Michigan, founded in 1817, is one of the foremost research universities in the United States. While it was initially founded in Detroit, the college moved to scenic Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres of what is now called Central Campus. The university has since expanded to include more than 584 buildings and more than 34 million gross square feet. The Presidentís house, located on South University Avenue, is the oldest building on campus and is the only surviving building from the original campus.
#19 – Swarthmore College
Location: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Swarthmore, founded in 1864, was one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States. Many founders were known for their abolitionist and womenís rights views. The campus is comprised of 399 acres along a north-south axis anchored by Parrish Hall. Swarthmore is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in America because of the oak-lined Magill Walk, along with the adjacent Scott Arboretum.
#20 – Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvardís campus, founded in 1636, is the oldest in the United States. The schoolís most notable buildings are Sever Hall, built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, and University Hall, built between 1813 and 1815 using white Chelmsford granite. A pedestrian bridge connects Harvardís main campus with the Harvard Business School, located across the Charles River.
#21 – Wellesley College
Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
Wellesley is one of the top womenís institutions in the United States. Along with excellent academics, the campus was designed by Bostonian Frederic Law Olmsted, Jr. to be far superior to the look of other campuses. Olmstead and his team designed wooded areas around Lake Waban and popular open meadows around the campus. Instead of following the typical quad setup, the designers integrated the campus into the topography of Wellesley.
#22 – Rice University
Location: Houston, Texas
Rice University is located in Houston’s Museum District and provides plenty of green space for its students. Duncan Hall is one of the favorite buildings on campus. Almost every building on campus is crafted in the Byzantine style, thanks to the Universityís first president. The architecture includes sand and pink-colored bricks, large archways, and columns.
#23 – Lewis & Clark College
Location: Portland, Oregon
Along with making the list of the most beautiful college campuses in America, Lewis & Clark college can claim top honors in the Pacific Northwest. While the region boasts beautiful views at most of its colleges, none compare to this campusís views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding city of Portland. The college is located at the top of Palatine Hill, next to the Tryon Creek State Natural Area. The schoolís unique architecture received top honors from design experts.
#24 – Mount Holyoke College
Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts
This school is credited with leading the “green” initiative among elite college campuses. Mount Holyoke leads the field with five buildings LEED certified. Most of the campus is located in Skinner State Park, allowing students to have gorgeous views. The location also provides students with an expanse to hike, jog, and bike in when they arenít studying.
#25 – Rollins College
Location: Winter Park, Florida
Rollins College is Floridaís oldest post-secondary institution. It was established in 1884 along the banks of Lake Virginia, just outside Orlando. Rollins offers students fantastic year-round weather and even encourages students to participate in “Fox Day.” During that day all students are encouraged to skip class and hang out in town. The campus includes a memorial called the Peace Monument. The memorial was constructed using a German artillery shell surrendered by Germany at the end of World War I.
#26 – Washington and Lee University
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Founded in 1749 as Augusta Academy, Washington and Lee University received its current name in 1871. The campus is located in Lexington, Virginia between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Allegheny Mountains. The campus features the Colonnade, a row of brick buildings built in 1824 and listed as a National Historic Landmark. The Lee Chapel, located elsewhere on campus, is also on that list. British writer John Cowper Powys believed Washington and Lee to be the most beautiful college campus in America.
#27 – Washington University in St. Louis
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Washington University is considered one of the most prestigious research universities in the country. It is divided into multiple locations featuring several gorgeous buildings, from Seigle Hall and Francis Field to the Danforth University Center. Along with the campusís beauty, the city of St. Louis offers great activities and beautiful views for students.
#28 – Dartmouth College
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College offers students and history buffs a fantastic experience. Wentworth and Thorton Halls are two of the original campus buildings and were constructed in 1820. Dartmouth offers tranquil walking and hiking trails in the nearby Upper Valley along the Connecticut River.
#29 – Lehigh University
Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Lehigh University was founded in 1865 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The campus is located in the Lehigh Valley a little over an hour from Philadelphia. The campus includes 2,350 acres, including 180 acres of recreational and playing fields.
#30 – Rhodes College
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Rhodes College encompases 100 acres in Midtown, Memphis across from the Memphis Zoo. The school is often cited for its beauty. Buildings on campus were designed in the stone Gothic style and thirteen of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Rhodes maintains this Collegiate Gothic architecture with the addition of new buildings, including the new West Village dormitory.
#31 – Sewanee: The University of the South
Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
Sewanee was founded by delegates from ten dioceses of the Episcopal Church in 1857. The campus is made up of 13,000 acres of land atop the Cumberland Plateau. Overlooking the Tennessee Valley, the campus has several buildings, most done in the Gothic style. This college is quite possibly the ultimate experience in southern living and education.
#32 – University of Maryland, College Park
Location: College Park, Maryland
University of Maryland is known for its red-brick Georgian buildings, along with McKeldin Mall, the collegeís large central lawn. Many buildings are decorated with white columns. More than 7,500 trees and garden plantings were documented on the universityís 1,250 acres, causing the American Public Gardens Association to designate the College Park campus the ìUniversity of Maryland Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The campus is making several improvements to become more sustainable and hopes to become carbon neutral by 2050.
#33 – Furman University
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Furman University has been named several times as one of the most beautiful places in the United States by the American Society of Landscape Architects. It features Georgian-style architecture and a campus Bell Tower, which sits in the middle of a gorgeous lake. Several buildings on campus surround the lake, offering views of the Bell Tower.
#34 – Yale University
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Yaleís campus was constructed in the Collegiate Gothic style, with the exception of Connecticut Hall. Built in 1870, the Hall is in the Georgian style. The campus has a Middle Ages feel to it with wrought iron gates and vintage lamp posts. While the campus itself is gorgeous, Yale has put its stamp on the community as well with the purchase of several mansions in the surrounding area.
#35 – Bryn Mawr College
Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Bryn Mawr is a womenís liberal arts college founded in 1885. The school is one of the Seven Sister colleges and was founded by Quakers. The campus was designed by landscape designers Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted and was designated an arboretum. Notable buildings include the Great Hall and the Marjorie Walter Goodhart Theater. An open area of campus called the Cloisters area includes a fountain and green space.
#36 – Gettysburg College
Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is located right next to the famous battlefield sharing its name. The campus is often referred to as one of the most beautiful in the country. The quad area, called Stine Lake, is one of the most popular places on campus. Along with the views on campus, students can take a walk through the Gettysburg National Military Park next door.
#37 – Berry College
Location: Mount Berry, Georgia
With 27,000 acres to its name, Berry College claims to have the largest contiguous campus in the world. Included in the acreage are fields, forests, and Lavender Mountain. Some portions of the campus are open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and other activities. There is also a large herd of deer on campus and the land closest to the academic buildings and other public areas is a wildlife refuge.
#38 – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
MIT is located on 168 acres about a mile north of the Charles River basin. It is divided in half by Massachusetts Avenue. While MIT may not look like Yale or Harvard, its buildings include a nuclear reactor, the William H. Gates Building, a wind tunnel, and a towing tank. The Stata Center is also a unique building, housing CSAIL, LIDS, and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy.
#39 – Syracuse University
Location: Syracuse, New York
Syracuse University features an eclectic mix of buildings from the nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival, as well as contemporary buildings designed by architects like I.M. Pei. The center of campus features a grass quad and landscaped walkways. The Comstock Tract Buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with three other separate buildings on campus.
#40 – Elon University
Location: Elon, North Carolina
Elon University is ranked first by the Princeton Review and the New York Times on the list of the most beautiful college campuses in America. Elon features numerous lakes and fountains throughout campus, along with 29 residence buildings and 12 academic buildings. The wooded grounds around Elon were designated as a botanical garden.
#41 – University of Hawaii at Manoa
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
This campus has views of the famous volcano Diamond Head and is just steps away from famous Waikiki Beach. While hundreds of thousands of tourists travel to Hawaii each year, students at University of Hawaii Manoa get to experience these views all year. Students are able to study at the Lyon Arboretum and have free access to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
#42 – Vanderbilt University
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
The oldest part of Vanderbilt’s campus is known for its expanses of green space and trees, which contrast the surrounding views of Nashville. The campus was designated as a national arboretum in 1988 and about 190 species of trees and shrubs have been documented on the grounds. One tree, called the Bicentennial Oak, is the oldest living thing on campus. It is certified to have lived during the American Revolution.
#43 – Scripps College
Location: Claremont, California
Scripps College is one of the top private schools for women in the United States. It features mostly Mission Revival-inspired architecture. The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is a prime example of the architecture style, along with the Margaret Fowler Garden area. Lush landscaping can be seen year-round.
#44 – Texas A&M University
Location: College Station, Texas
Texas A&M’s campus in College Station is one of the largest in America with 5,200 acres. The library of former President of the United States, George H.W. Bush, is located on campus, along with the Corps Arches in the Quad. The arches are just part of the university’s way of welcoming and honoring Cadets on campus.
#45 – Sweet Briar College
Location: Sweet Briar, Virginia
Sweet Briar College is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The women’s college, founded in 1901 and is located on the former estate of the college’s founder, Indiana Fletcher Williams. Ralph Adams Cram was the architect for most of the buildings on campus. One of the school’s highlights is the Equestrian center, which takes up about 130 acres and hosts the schools 7 riding teams.
#46 – Whitman College
Location: Walla Walla, Washington
Whitman College was built around the natural beauty of Eastern Washington city Walla Walla. It features miles of trails, streams, ponds, and outdoor sculptures. Many of the buildings were styled after the Victorian era, although new facilities stray away from this. Ankeny Field, the main quad area, is one of the largest sections of campus. Whitman holds the deed to a local nature preserve.
#47 – University of the Pacific
Location: Stockton, California
The University of the Pacific is the oldest chartered university in California. It was founded in 1851 and operates as a top institution in the state, as well as a makeshift movie set. One of the most prominent buildings is the Burns Tower. The bell tower can be seen from every spot on campus and towers over common areas.
#48 – United States Military Academy (West Point)
Location: West Point, New York
West Point’s buildings were inspired by Neo-Gothic architecture and were constructed from gray and black granite. The entire campus is designated a national landmark because it trains some of the most elite armed forces in the United States. The 15,000 acre campus includes a famous cemetery that serves as a final resting place for George Armstrong Custer, Winfield Scott, and many Medal of Honor recipients.
#49 – University of Wisconsin, Madison
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin main campus is located between two massive lakes, Mendota and Monona. Because of its pristine location, the Madison, Wisconsin college offers students extra-curricular activities all year round. The college hosts four national landmarks, including student life hub Bascom Hall. Wisconsin’s campus functions much like a small city and the views from its buildings and grounds are some of the best in the United States.
#50 – Amherst College
Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
Amherst is ranked as one of the top three colleges in the nation. It is also one of the most beautiful college campuses in America. College Row is at the center of campus and consists of multiple halls and Johnson Chapel. Students hang out and study at the Quad, as long as the weather is nice. Thanks to an inter-university agreement, students at Amherst have the opportunity to study with some of the other colleges on this list, like Mount Holyoke and the University of Massachusetts.
#51 – University of Chicago
Location: Chicago, Illinois
The University of Chicago is very much an urban campus and is home to some of the best architecture on a college campus in the United States. The majority of the older buildings feature Collegiate Gothic styles that mimic Oxford. Several buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.