The Most Beautiful College Campus in Ohio Is a Picturesque Masterpiece

Written by Rob Amend
Updated: October 9, 2023
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A beautiful college or university campus can be an ideal, a learning aid, or just part of a great experience. Students who attend college on an austere, antiseptic campus may reminisce about their college days but seldom about the campus itself. That’s one reason institutions with beautiful campuses attract more applicants, charge higher admissions fees, and be more selective about students admitted to their programs than programs with comparable academics and lackluster facilities. So, among the many institutions that call the state home, what is Ohio’s most beautiful college campus?

Ohio’s Beautiful College Campuses

Cherry blossoms in bloom surrounding a brick Ohio University sign in Athens, Ohio.

Ohio University is one of the most beautiful college campuses in Ohio and the U.S.

©Robert A. Powell/

Ohio has several beautiful campuses throughout the state. These schools have beautiful buildings and wondrous natural settings. Below are two of the state’s most beautiful campuses.

Ohio University

Ohio University tops some lists of beautiful campuses. It rests on the Hocking River, within the picturesque hills of the Appalachian Plateau. It is located in Athens, close to Wayne National Forest and Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio.

Miami University

Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, also garners praise for its campus. The poet Robert Frost visited many times and was reputed to have said the southwestern Ohio university was “the most beautiful campus that ever was.” Miami has a Colonial red brick architectural theme, and the campus is one of the best-landscaped colleges in the Midwest.

Campus in Autumn

Miami University is one of the most beautiful college campuses in Ohio.

©kdow/iStock via Getty Images

The Most Beautiful Campus in Ohio

One college keeps coming to mind when you consider architecture, a beautiful setting, and impeccably maintained grounds. The most beautiful college campus in Ohio is Kenyon College. It sits on the east bank of the Kokosing River.


The campus’ architectural style is anchored by the Gothic Revival stylings of Old Kenyon, its oldest building (1832-1836), and Bexley Hall (1839-1858) at the opposite end of the campus. Around the same time, the Kenyon Chapel, Rosse Hall, was constructed of sandstone in the Greek Revival style. This was one of the few buildings to deviate from the early Gothic Revival theme. Most of the buildings constructed before the 1960s adhered to the Gothic Revival template established by the initial architecture. This uniformity appeals to the eye and blends well with the wooded campus setting.

Setting and Grounds

Ransom Hall, Kenyon College

Kenyon College has the most beautiful college campus in Ohio.

©Cbc717 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

With a dedicated crew of landscapers maintaining the 170 campus acres of hills and woodland, it’s no wonder the grounds look so amazing. That’s not the whole picture, though. Nearby Mount Vernon Nazarene University shared the same terrain for many years, but property around the campus was taken over by development, and the setting is urbanized and compact. Kenyon College has taken a proactive approach to preserving the beauty of hills, farmlands, woods, and streams surrounding the campus. The college worked to set up a land trust—the Philander Chase Conservancy—that has made it its goal to protect the natural environment within a 5-mile radius of Kenyon College. The trust has managed to preserve over 5,200 acres surrounding the college. With such aggressive planning, they increase their chances of maintaining the college’s status as one of Ohio’s most beautiful college campuses.

Flora and Fauna on the Kenyon College Campus

Kenyon College is located in the Kokosing River Watershed. The river and surrounding trails are filled with trees that thrive in this habitat, such as beech trees, sycamores, and swamp white oaks. The waterways host otters, mink, beavers, the rainbow darter, and even the endangered hellbender! Bald eagles hunt the watershed and wood ducks nest in tree cavities and perch on branches. Deer and raccoons are also numerous around campus.

What Do River Otters Eat?

River otters live around the Kokosing River.


Places of Interest Around Kenyon College

Kenyon College takes up nearly the entirety of the Village of Gambier. Both institutions share a gravel path that runs down the middle of Gambier and Kenyon. This is called the “Middle Path” and has a unique place in the history of both, as residents and students share the path.

Given the bucolic natural setting of Kenyon College, there is a wealth of cultural activities and things to do outdoors. Along the Kokosing River are the Scenic Water Trail, the Kokosing Nature Preserve, and the Brown Family Environmental Center. The internationally renowned Schnormeier Gardens are not far from Kenyon. On campus, there is The Gund—a teaching museum and gallery for Kenyon students and the general public. Kenyon also operates the Franklin Miller Observatory on the grounds of the Brown Family Environmental Center.

During the initial construction of the campus, stone masons built a stone chapel outside the campus, Christ Church at the Quarry. Eventually, the congregants died or moved on, and the chapel fell into disrepair. Restoration began to take place in the 2000s, and it was ultimately added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Quarry Chapel, as it is now known, hosts weddings, events, and concerts.

Where Kenyon College Is in Ohio

Kenton College is in the heart of Ohio, just over 40 miles northeast of downtown Columbus. It sits about four miles east of Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Christopher L. Riley / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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