Hello, Gorgeous: 17 of the Prettiest College Campuses Skip to main content

Hello, Gorgeous: 17 of the Prettiest College Campuses

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Most-Beautiful-College-Campuses-Prettiest-College-Campuses-Campus-ToursAs fall settles in and the leaves start to turn, we look at our picks for some of the prettiest college campuses in the U.S. From grand and gorgeous quads to picturesque white steeples towering above a leafy backdrop, these beautiful college campuses are known for their architectural offerings, awe-inspiring vistas, and camera-ready settings.

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA
UVAAnyone who’s been to UVA knows it’s all about the Rotunda. And the Lawn. And the Grange. And its lush Shenandoah National Park backdrop.
Fun Fact: Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe founded the college.
Photo: Flickr/slack12

Duke University
Durham, NC
Duke UniversityGothic and Georgian architecture dot Duke’s 8,470-acre campus. And with more than 7,000 acres of that being forest, it’s a natural beauty, too.
Fun Fact: Duke hosted the only Rose Bowl outside of California, in 1942.
Photo: Flickr/theomania

 
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA
UCSBA beach right on campus? Yup. And a lagoon and a scenic rocky point, too. Located 100 miles north of Los Angeles, UCSB is set on cliffs overlooking the Pacific.
Fun Fact: Anointed as the #2 research school and the #2 party school.
Photo: Flickr/dhilung

Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC
Wake UniversityEncircled by the “Avenue of Oaks,” Wake is known for its preservation of heritage trees – from maples and dogwoods to elms and magnolias.
Fun Fact: The R.J. Reynolds’ family endowed the college for a move from Raleigh to Winston-Salem in 1956.
Photo: Flickr/okiboi

 
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO
University of Colorado BoulderWith a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Great Plains expanse to its east, UC Boulder is a shoo-in for any prettiest college campuses list.
Fun Fact: UCB is considered one of 30 “Public Ivy League” schools.
Photo: Flickr/irisphotos

 
Columbia University
New York, NY
Columbia UniversityButler Library (shown) is the crowning jewel of this Upper Manhattan school. As one of the original Colonial colleges, it’s no surprise several of Columbia’s buildings are national landmarks.
Fun Fact: A top journalism school, Columbia administers the Pulitzer Prize.
Photo: Flickr/drewgeraets

 
Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA
Wellesley CollegeDesigned by Frederick Olmstead, this all-woman college west of Boston is owed to a landscape-driven vs. architecture-based master plan, boasting woodlands, meadows, and Lake Waban.
Fun Fact: Alumnae Mary Wilkes is considered to have designed the first home computer.
Photo: Flickr/masstravel

Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH
Dartmouth CollegeDraw up a picture a New England town in your head, and it probably looks like Dartmouth. Steepled chapels and lots of quaint Georgian-style brick buildings, all sitting among 30,000-plus acres of annexed forest.
Fun Fact: Every weekday at 4 p.m., the English department serves tea and cookies.
Photo: Flickr/kentquirk


United States Military Academy
West Point, NY
West PointStrategically built on an s-curve of the Hudson River, West Point is the undergrad home to Army cadets.
Fun Fact: Benedict Arnold earned his traitor moniker by being bribed to surrender the fort to the British.
Photo: Flickr/elizabethbean


Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
PrincetonHalf way between Philadelphia and New York City, Princeton’s buildings run the architectural gamut – Collegiate Gothic, Romanesque Revival, and the spirited modernity of Frank Gehry.
Fun Fact: The ivy-adorned campus is featured in A Beautiful Mind, Transformers, and The Happening.
Photo: Flickr/afagen

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
University of RochesterCentered by the stately Eastman Quad, UR’s riverside spread is fittingly picturesque (one of its major endowers was George Eastman, founder of Kodak).
Fun Fact: Alumna Joseph Wilson, founder of Xerox, brought copy machines to the world.
Photo: Flickr/ryanhyde

 
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI
Univ Wisconsin MadisonLake Mendota. Hilltop Bascom Hall. The arboretum. What’s not to love about this top-rated campus in this top-rated college town?
Fun Fact: The Onion was founded by two UWM students in 1988.
Photo: Flickr/kyounger


Yale University
New Haven, CT
yale-flickr-slack12-11625012864While Collegiate Gothic design rules at Yale, there’s everything between including the Georgian-style Connecticut Hall dating back to 1750 and Louis Kahn’s Yale Art Gallery, a mid-century modern wonder.
Fun Fact: Yale’s secret societies – like Skull & Bones and Wolf’s Head – are headquartered in classical-style buildings called “tombs.”
Photo: Flickr/slack12

Pepperdine University
Malibu, CA
Pepperdine UniversitySet along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, this Christian school is tucked in the Santa Monica Foothills.
Fun Fact: The school was originally located in south central Los Angeles, until just after the Watts riots.
Photo: Flickr/4nitsirk


University of Washington
Seattle, WA
University of WashingtonOlympic National Forest to the west. Cascade Mountains to the east. Union Bay at its feet. Then there’s the quad, lined with cherry blossom trees. It’s pretty clear why U-Dub, as it’s affectionately known, gets a most beautiful campus nod.
Fun Fact: You can thank UW inventor-alums for bubble gum, vinyl, and color TV.
Photo: Flickr/cronncc


University of the South
Sewanee, TN
Sewanee University of the SouthAlso known as Sewanee, the University of the South’s stately gothic setting is perched above the Tennessee Valley.
Fun Fact: Tennessee Williams bequeathed his literary rights to the college.
Photo: Flickr/wordjunky


University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN
University of Notre DameThe iconic Golden Dome and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart tower above two resplendent lakes on campus.
Fun Fact: The Band of the Fighting Irish is the oldest marching band in the country.
Photo: Flickr/kendlund

Studying architecture? Check out our collection of campus architecture books.

For more of our favorite campus architecture, check out our Pinterest board.
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This post originally ran 10/20/14.