The Most Beautiful College Campus in Kentucky Will Leave You Speechless

Written by Mary Bernard
Updated: August 16, 2023
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There’s truth to the adage, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and college campuses are no exception. Online debaters disagree about the most beautiful college campus in Kentucky. Still, we side with the media outlets that bestow the honor on the university located in the commonwealth’s largest city.

The most beautiful college campus in Kentucky is the University of Louisville‘s Belknap Campus.

University of Louisville, KY Belknap Campus

More than 130 species of trees offer a beautiful dense canopy to the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus in Kentucky.

©Sailko / CC BY 3.0 – License

Is the University of Louisville a Beautiful Campus?

Situated on 309 acres in the heart of the city in Old Historic Louisville, the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus is breathtakingly beautiful.

Stunning buildings throughout the campus boast gorgeous design features, while nature is beautifully displayed through the native plants and animals at the University.

Campus Architecture

H. Charles Grawemeyer Hall, built in 1926, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Its front exterior, with classic red brick and concrete steps leading to double front doors amid stately white columns, calls to mind images of old, grand churches or presidential residences.

Most distinctly, a statue of “The Thinker” sits on the front steps. This statue is the first full-scale bronze cast of the sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

The Thinker statue at Grawemeyer Hall, University of Louisville, KY

One of the most beautiful features of the University of Louisville is the impressive entrance to Grawemeyer Hall, where “The Thinker” statue welcomes all who approach.

©Sailko / CC BY 3.0 – License

In front of Grawemeyer Hall is a large, dark green oval lawn and a 16-spout water fountain flanked by a canopy of gorgeous mature trees.

Inside, you’ll find the Office of the President and Provost of the University of Louisville as well as a Foucault pendulum suspended from the interior dome that measures 73 feet high.

Grawemeyer and the Oval are iconic and characteristic of the stunning beauty on campus that combines old and new elements.

Focalt Pendulum in Grawemeyer Hall at University of Louisville, KY

The Foucault Pendulum is a beautiful feature of Grawemeyer Hall at the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus.

©Sailko / CC BY 3.0 – License

Campus Trees

One of the first things you’ll likely notice when you step on campus is the maturity, beauty, and diversity of the thousands of trees planted there. More than 2500 trees representing more than 130 species provide beauty with white, pink, and red blooms in the spring; deep green foliage in the summer; and vibrant red, orange, and purple leaves in the autumn. These trees are among the numerous varieties on campus:

  • Cedar of Lebanon
  • Smoketree
  • American Yellow Wood (also known as the Kentucky Yellow Wood)
  • Eastern Redbuds
  • Robert E. Lee Chestnut Oak
  • Northern Red Oak
  • Willow Oak
  • Pin Oak
  • White Oak
  • Black Oak
  • Tulip Tree

Campus visitors can take a self-guided walking tour to learn about all the trees there.

For a decade, the Arbor Day Foundation recognized the University with the Tree Campus USA distinction. This means that the University met the Foundation’s high standards for tree care and conservation.

The Sierra Club has also named the University of Louisville a “Cool School” because of its commitment to sustainability and environmentalism.

Eastern redbud tree in full bloom with sprinkling of wildflowers in the surrounding grass.

Eastern redbud trees like this one make the University of Louisville campus beautiful, with blooms in the spring.

©Marie C Fields/

Campus Plants

Native plants, shrubs, and flowers round out the landscape of the Belknap Campus. When selecting plants for the grounds, campus staffers intentionally choose those that encourage natural pollination.

In the Biology Department’s Harriet A. Korfhage Native Plant Garden, you’ll find woody shrubs, herbaceous perennials, grasses, and ferns, including:

With the many trees, plants, and flowers, it’s not surprising that birds, bees, and insects enjoy life at the University of Louisville. A 1000-square-foot butterfly garden attracts the beauties, and bright yellow sunflowers serve the bees each year in late summer.

Purple coneflowers growing in the native plant garden

Coneflowers add to the beauty of the Belknap Campus at the University of Louisville.

©Barbara Smits/

Campus Wildlife

And speaking of critters …

Even though the Belknap Campus is in the middle of an urban area, wildlife still makes appearances occasionally. Don’t be surprised if you spot one of these animals exploring campus grounds:

Deer may roam the University of Louisville's campus.

Deer are just one type of wildlife that may roam the University of Louisville’s campus.

©Abigail Marie/

What Is Unique About the University of Louisville?

The University of Louisville is uniquely immersed in traditions and culture that delight all of the senses. Not far from the banks of the mighty Ohio River, the University gets its charm and beauty from the Bluegrass state and the people, plants, and animals who live there.

Louisville, Kentucky, USA skyline on the river.

Louisville, KY, is home to the most beautiful college campus in the state — the Belknap Campus at the University of Louisville.

©Sean Pavone/

Kentucky bourbon and the classic open-faced turkey sandwich, the Hot Brown, are legendary for delighting tastebuds and tummies.

And no event is more visually stunning than the Kentucky Derby at nearby Churchill Downs. People don their brightest hats to sip Mint Juleps and cheer on their favorite competitors. This annual race features the sleek beauty and majesty of the Thoroughbred horse.

If you’re looking for the most beautiful college campus in Kentucky, you’ll find it at the University of Louisville.

Horses grazing on pasture during sunset. Pregnant mare of thoroughbred horse. Tranquil scene

Thoroughbred racehorses are some of the most beautiful animals that call Louisville, KY, home.


The photo featured at the top of this post is © Ken Lund from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License / Original

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About the Author

Mary Bernard is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering places and food. Mary has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and holds a master of education degree from Middle Tennessee State University. A resident of Tennessee, Mary grew up on a large farm. She enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband, three grown children, a geriatric Bichon Shih Tzu named Zoe, and a curious black cat named Salem.

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