Discover the Top 10 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the U.S.

Written by Lev Baker
Updated: June 26, 2023
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Brown University’s campus is renowned for its beautiful architecture and vibrant green spaces.

College campuses are more than just centers of education; they can also be breathtakingly beautiful. Some campuses stand out for their aesthetic appeal, from sprawling green spaces to stunning architectural designs. This article will explore and highlight a selection of college campuses renowned for their captivating beauty. Get ready to embark on a virtual tour of these picturesque campuses that offer a great educational experience and an environment that inspires. Whether you’re a student, an alum, or simply an admirer of scenic landscapes, these campuses will leave you in awe. These are the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S.

1. University of Hawaii at Mānoa – Honolulu, Hawaii

Skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii and the surrounding area including the hotels and buildings on Waikiki Beach

The University of Hawaii is located in Honolulu, Hawaii.


One of the most beautiful college campuses is the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. It is located in Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The physical campus sits between the Manoa Valley and the Pacific Ocean. The area around the campus has various natural landscapes, including mountains and beaches.

The campus itself hosts a variety of flora, from palm trees and plumeria blossoms to other tropical plants. The campus is also home to a variety of wildlife species that thrive in the tropical climate of Hawaii. Birds of different species can be spotted throughout the campus, adding color and liveliness to the environment. Geckos, small reptiles native to Hawaii, are commonly found on campus walls and trees. Their unique chirping sound can often be heard, adding a touch of nature to the atmosphere. Butterflies, with their vibrant wings, flutter among the flowers and foliage, creating a beautiful scene.

Furthermore, the university’s location in Hawaii provides opportunities for marine wildlife encounters, as the Pacific Ocean is teeming with diverse marine life. Occasionally, students and faculty may have the chance to observe marine animals such as dolphins, whales, and various species of fish near the coastline. The campus provides a unique and natural learning environment as part of its rich biodiversity.

2. St. John’s College Santa Fe – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

One of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S. is located in Santa Fe.

© Pavone

St. John’s College sits in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is known for its visually appealing campus within this region. It sits at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, presenting impressive views of the nearby high desert environment. The location displays a unique combination of dry terrain and mountain scenery, which serves as a beautiful setting for education.

The campus architecture in Santa Fe is renowned for its unique style that reflects the region’s rich heritage. Santa Fe is known for its adobe architecture, characterized by earth-toned buildings made of mud bricks and plaster. The campus buildings at St. John’s College often feature this traditional Adobe style, creating a harmonious integration with the natural environment.

The campus is dotted with local plant life, such as piñon pines, junipers, and various wild flowers, contributing to the vivid scenery. Various animal species inhabit the area, including roadrunners, hummingbirds, jackrabbits, and coyotes, developing an appreciation for nature. Moreover, Santa Fe is located along the migratory route of many bird species, making it a haven for bird lovers. In addition to roadrunners and hummingbirds, bird lovers may spot various species of hawks, owls, woodpeckers, and songbirds in the area.

3. Brown University – Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University

Providence, Rhode Island is home to Brown University, one of the most beautiful college campuses.


Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island, boasts another campus that blends with its historic environment. Situated on the East Side of Providence, the campus is renowned for its beautiful architecture and vibrant green spaces. The campus is within walking distance of scenic rivers and offers lovely views of the city skyline. Around the campus are charming neighborhoods, historic buildings, and tree-lined streets, contributing to the overall allure of the area.

The buildings of the university reflect the rich history of the area, with a mix of colonial, Victorian, and contemporary designs. Historic buildings, such as University Hall and Manning Hall, feature impressive facades and intricate detailing, transporting visitors and students to a bygone era. The campus also incorporates modern architectural elements, with sleek and innovative structures, including the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. This combination of architectural styles creates a visually captivating and diverse campus environment.

While the campus is urban, it still shows a variety of flora, including beautiful oak and maple trees that provide shade and natural beauty. Though wildlife sightings may be less common due to the urban setting, some glimpses of squirrels and songbirds can still be enjoyed. While larger wildlife sightings are rare due to the urban nature of the campus, occasional visits from raccoons and opossums may occur, especially in the evening or at night. These nocturnal animals are adaptable to urban environments and may seek food and shelter in unknown areas on campus.

4. Swarthmore College – Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Swarthmore College

In Philadelphia sits Swarthmore College, one of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S.


Swarthmore College, positioned in the beautiful suburb of Swarthmore just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, provides a serene setting for students and visitors. The campus is adorned with various lush greenery, including mature trees like oak, maple, and cherry, which add to a shaded, vibrant environment across the seasons. The vicinity boasts of natural splendor, with Crum Woods nearby offering a haven with its extensive forest trails, streams, and varied wildlife. 

The college is noted for its devotion to sustainability, evident in the design and landscaping of its campus. It works towards the conservation and renewal of native habitats, applying sustainable methods that encourage biodiversity and ecological well-being. This commitment has led to a flourishing ecosystem on campus, inviting diverse wildlife, from common sightings of birds like cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers, to squirrels, rabbits, and occasionally deer. 

Alongside the natural beauty, the architecture at Swarthmore College is noteworthy. It merges historical and contemporary designs, showing brick structures, courtyards, and beautiful lawns. Furthermore, Swarthmore’s position allows easy access to the intellectual and cultural richness of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Students have the opportunity to discover the city’s distinguished museums, art galleries, historical sites, and varied food scenes, all within a short journey from campus.

5. United States Naval Academy – Annapolis, Maryland

United States Naval Academy

One of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S. is the United State Naval Academy in Annapolis.


The United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland, is a distinguished college with a beautiful campus. Positioned on the shores of the magical Severn River, the campus boasts an impressive waterfront and Chesapeake Bay views. Annapolis, the state’s capital, is recognized for its rich history and colonial architecture, adding a historical context to the campus.

One prominent architectural feature of the Naval Academy is Bancroft Hall, the largest single dormitory in the United States. With its impressive Beaux-Arts style, Bancroft Hall serves as the focal point of the campus. Its grand facade, adorned with classical elements such as columns and decorative details, creates a sense of grandeur and solidity.

Another notable architectural gem on campus is the Naval Academy Chapel. Designed in the Gothic Revival style, the chapel’s soaring spires and unique stonework make it a beautiful landmark. The chapel’s interior features beautiful stained glass windows and a pipe organ, adding to its awe-inspiring ambiance.

The campus hosts a mix of plant life, with robust oak and magnolia trees, along with flowers that blossom in the warmer seasons. Given its waterfront location, you might observe marine creatures like crabs, herons, and other coastal birds. The combination of naval vistas, historical allure, and natural beauty make the United States Naval Academy a beautiful and inspiring setting.

6. Lewis & Clark College – Portland, Oregon

Lewis and Clark College

The Lewis and Clark College campus is located in Portland, Oregon.


Lewis & Clark College is a beacon of academic excellence amidst a natural scene in the southwest of Portland, Oregon. The campus, perched on Palatine Hill, offers beautiful views of rivers and the imposing silhouette of Mount Hood in the distance. This tranquil sanctuary blends into its verdant 137-acre woodland environment near the lush Tryon Creek State Natural Area.

The college is a living testament to Oregon’s biodiversity, with its grounds teeming with native tree species, including western red cedars, Douglas firs, and vibrant patches of wildflowers. It’s common to spot deer grazing or to hear the melodious call of local bird species echoing through the trees. The proximity of Tryon Creek State Natural Area to the campus further increases the wildlife experience. The area is home to various animals, including raccoons, rabbits, beavers, and a variety of amphibians and reptiles. Exploring the trails and wooded areas near the college may provide opportunities to encounter these fascinating creatures. The campus’s architectural beauty, a mix of classic and contemporary styles, complements its natural environment.

7. Belmont University – Nashville, Tennessee

Bridges and Boats on the Cumberland River from Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

One of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S. is Belmont University in Nashville.

©Sean Pavone/

Belmont University, located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, is a beautiful oasis of learning. The campus is just a stone’s throw away from the city’s lively downtown, with its iconic Music Row, making it a hub for students who love music and the arts. Enclosed within the city’s vibrant urban life, the university offers a retreat with its stunning neo-Gothic architecture and beautiful grounds.

The campus spans 93 acres, which has lush green spaces, Southern architecture, and serene spots perfect for contemplative study. The Belmont Mansion, a historic centerpiece, adds a touch of grandeur to the landscape. The university’s commitment to maintaining green spaces has led to an array of local flora dotting the campus, with blooming dogwoods, southern magnolias, and vibrant azaleas providing year-round color.

Though located in an urban area, the campus is home to various bird species and small mammals attracted by the green spaces and the university’s two lovely artificial lakes. Squirrels scamper across the manicured lawns, and you might catch sight of a rabbit or two at dusk. The lakes are a haven for local aquatic birds, including ducks and geese. Some bird species you might spot on campus include the American robin and the northern cardinal – both beautiful birds that are a standout sight.

8. Wake Forest University – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University

The first building constructed was Wait Chapel Steeple at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Wake Forest University, in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is placed in the Piedmont region of the state, an area celebrated for its scenic rolling landscapes. Despite its location to the active downtown area, the campus feels peaceful. Often referred to as the Reynolda Campus, the main campus of the university spans over 300 acres, marrying Georgian-style architectural elements with green scenery, offering a timeless, sophisticated atmosphere. The prevalent use of brick in the structures harmonizes with the leafy environment, reinforcing the enduring tradition that characterizes the campus.

Wake Forest is a suburban forested campus, home to many trees and plants that make it a living arboretum. The flora includes several species of oak, maple, and pine, along with beautiful seasonal blooms of dogwoods and azaleas. This vegetation provides a habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, and various bird species, including the vibrant cardinal, are frequent sights on campus.

In addition, the location of the university is adjacent to Reynolda Gardens, a 129-acre center for recreation and study, allowing students to immerse themselves in an environment teeming with native plants and wildlife. The harmonious blend of architectural elegance, lush greenery, and abundant wildlife at Wake Forest University creates a truly enchanting campus experience.

9. Baylor University – Waco, Texas

Waco, Texas

Waco, Texas is home to one of the most beautiful college campuses in the U.S.


Baylor University, situated in Waco, Texas, is recognized for its academic excellence and beautiful campus. The university is located along the Brazos River, equidistant from Dallas and Austin, offering a balance of city amenities and scenic beauty. Its location to downtown Waco allows easy access to the city’s lively culture and historical allure.

Baylor’s campus spans over 1,000 acres, seamlessly integrating traditional Georgian architectural styles with modern buildings amidst green, well-kept landscapes. The use of brick facades, symmetrical designs, and columned porticos in some of the buildings shows the timeless elegance associated with Georgian architecture. These classic features add a touch of grandeur and sophistication to the campus. In contrast, modern buildings on campus incorporate contemporary architectural styles characterized by clean lines, glass facades, and open spaces.

The campus boasts various tree species, including grand oaks and pecans, providing substantial shade during the hot Texas summers. Seasonal flowers like bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes contribute to the campus’s vibrant color palette, enhancing its appeal.

Despite its urban setting, Baylor University’s campus houses a variety of wildlife, particularly birds. Its riverside location draws in different bird species, such as herons, egrets, and ducks. Squirrels are a common sight, frequently spotted in the trees or sprinting across the lawns.

A feature of the campus is the “Baylor Marina,” a riverside spot where students can partake in water sports and outdoor activities. The university’s close proximity to Cameron Park, one of Texas’s largest municipal parks, adds to its attractiveness for those fond of nature.

10. Rice University – Houston, Texas

Rice University at Houston

Houston is home to Rice University.


Rice University is a notable institution recognized for its campus. Located close to the Museum District and next to Hermann Park, the university stands as a calm refuge amidst Houston’s active cityscape. It’s ideally situated for convenient access to downtown Houston and other cultural hotspots like the Houston Zoo and the Museum of Fine Arts.

The Rice University campus spans nearly 300 acres and blends unique Mediterranean Revival-style buildings with wide, green spaces. This architectural style, inspired by Mediterranean and Spanish influences, imparts a sense of elegance and timelessness to the campus. The buildings’ designs and attention to detail create a visually striking environment for students and visitors. The campus, known as an arboretum, is home to over 4,000 trees of varied species, including live oaks, southern magnolias, and crepe myrtles, providing a shaded and peaceful environment.

In addition to the greenery, the campus also contains water bodies like Harris Gully and the Cohen House Garden pond, which draw different wildlife. Squirrels are often seen around the campus, as well as a range of birds like blue jays, cardinals, and occasionally migrating waterfowl.

A prominent feature of the campus is the main quadrangle, distinguished by the impressive Lovett Hall and the Sallyport, a symbol of passage that represents the academic path of Rice students. Lovett Hall itself serves as the administrative center of the university. Its grand facade, adorned with decorative elements and a clock tower, stands as an iconic symbol of Rice University.

Summary of the 10 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the U.S.

1University of Hawaii at MānoaHonolulu, Hawaii
2St. John’s College Santa FeSanta Fe, New Mexico
3Brown UniversityProvidence, Rhode Island
4Swarthmore CollegeSwarthmore, Pennsylvania
5United States Naval AcademyAnnapolis, Maryland
6Lewis & Clark CollegePortland, Oregon
7Belmont UniversityNashville, Tennessee
8Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, North Carolina
9Baylor UniversityWaco, Texas 
10Rice University Houston, Texas
Summary Table of the Top 10 Most Beautiful College Campuses in the U.S.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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