The 10 Colleges With the Most Beautiful Campuses

The reality is, nothing can compare to the experience of attending college and enjoying life on an outstandingly beautiful campus. Learning and studying in an aesthetically beautiful backdrop may provide just the touch of inspiration you need to enhance your learning and study ability.

Relaxing and learning in an environment with lush greens, elegant buildings, and serene lakes is arguably much more comfortable and more fun. Whether the college or university is set among rolling mountains and leafy, green woodlands, or the lights of a big metropolis, a beautiful campus has its advantages.

Here are ten colleges with amazingly beautiful campuses in the country.

St. John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

St. John's College Santa Fe
Capt Swing, St Johns College Santa Fe, CC BY-SA 3.0

Tucked into the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this beautiful college sits on 250 acres of the most beautiful area of the country’s oldest capital city, Sante Fe, New Mexico.

The campus is just steps away from hiking trails, a short walk to six museums, and a slightly longer walk to hundreds of galleries. It combines the perfect blend of mountain living and access to culture, making it one of the state’s most beautiful colleges.

As a co-educational, liberal arts college with no religious affiliation, St. John’s is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. It was a successor to King William’s School, a preparatory school founded in 1696 in Sante Fe and chartered in 1784 as St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD. A second campus was opened in Sante Fe in 1964. 

Notable alumni include Francis Scott Key, the author of the National anthem, Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records founder, and Lucy Tamlin, a prominent US ambassador.

St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN)

St Olaf College
Daniel Edwins a.k.a. Webmoof, StOlaf College Campus, CC BY-SA 2.5

A private liberal arts college in Northfield, MN., St. Olaf College was founded in 1874 by a group of immigrant pastors and farmers of Norwegian-American descent. The college received its name from the Patron Saint and King Olaf II of Norway and is affiliated with the Lutheran Evangelical Church of America.

The beautiful 300-acre campus of St. Olaf is located approximately 40 miles south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Here are some interesting facts about St. Olaf College. King Olav visited the college in 1987, and King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway in 2011. St. Olaf College is situated on the homelands of the Wahpekute Band of the Dakota Nation. The 3,000 students attending St. Olaf represent 95 countries.

There are many St. Olaf notable alumni. Among them are Karl Rolvaag, former Governor of Minnesota; Gretchen Morgenson, seminal Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Chris Meidt, former NFL assistant coach; and Al Quie, a prominent Minnesota politician.

Rhodes College (Memphis, TN)

Rhodes College
Washnockm, Palmer in Ivy, CC BY-SA 4.0

The enthusiastic approach to liberal arts and sciences at Rhodes inspires students to discover and cultivate the passions of a lifetime. Rhodes is a national, four-year private, co-educational residential college. Located in the heart of Memphis, Rhodes is one of just a few prominent liberal arts colleges located in a major metropolitan district.

Here are more interesting facts about Rhodes College in Memphis. The students at Rhodes operate The Bridge, the only street paper in Memphis that offers job opportunities to homeless people. Rhodes is one of 286 colleges and universities in the U.S. with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, among the country’s most prestigious academic organizations. 

Additionally, Rhodes College is one of only 40 colleges and universities featured in the seminal text “Colleges That Change Lives.”

Alumni of Rhodes include Dixie Carter, a prominent actress, Abe Fortas, a US Supreme Court Justice, and Claudia Kennedy, the first woman to achieve the rank of 3-star general in the U.S. Army.

Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)

Pepperdine University
Kristina D.C. Hoeppner, Pepperdine University, CC BY-SA 2.0

Pepperdine University is a private research university affiliated with the Church of Christ and located in Malibu, CA. It was founded in Los Angeles in 1937 by entrepreneur George Pepperdine and then expanded to Malibu in 1972.

Pepperdine is consistently ranked among the most beautiful places to learn and study, mainly because of its location along the beach in Malibu.

Pepperdine College was the location of the ABC Series “Battle of the Network Stars,” hosted by Howard Cosell from 1976 to 1988. Jon Mascot, who pitched for the Pepperdine baseball team in 2012, was drafted as a major league pitcher by the Cincinnati Reds.

People who have achieved success in nearly every major field can call themselves graduates of Pepperdine. These include Nicole Kidman, Australian actress and producer, Tom Selleck, American actor and film producer, Dennis Johnson, professional basketball player, and James Read, starring actor in the fabulous TV mini-series North and South.

College of the Desert (Palm Desert, CA)

College of the Desert
Visitor7, College of the Desert, CC BY-SA 3.0

The College of the Desert (COD) is a public community college in Palm Desert, CA. College of the Desert is the home of the Energy Technology Training Center, one of the most important alternative fuel facilities in any college. 

Although COD is located in Palm Desert, California, they have satellite locations in Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Indio, and Thermal. Because COD is officially recognized as a Hispanic institution, the full-time student population is at least 25% Hispanic.

College of the Desert is home to Wright Gymnasium, which is actually, in its own right, a premier entertainment center. This beautiful facility has hosted the likes of Billy Idol, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, and many more entertainers. 

It seems that College of the Desert turns out a lot of athletes! They include Bryan Robinson, former professional football player; Gar Forman, basketball executive; Jack Renner, professional golfer; Reggie Brown, former professional football player; and Brent Geiberger, professional golfer. 

Pacific Union College (Angwin, CA)

Pacific Union College is a four-year private liberal arts college in the Napa Valley of California. It is a co-educational residential college with an undergraduate student body and is affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

The college has been in its current location on Howell Mountain in Napa County since 1909. Here, the campus is home to a beautiful rural setting overlooking California’s wine country.

With just 1,500 students, Pacific Union’s student-to-teacher ratio is a comfortable 13 to 1, ensuring every student has significant one-on-one attention with their professors.

Over 50,000 individuals have graduated from Pacific Union College. Jerry Pettis, California Congressman, Arna Wendell Bontemps, American poet, novelist and librarian, and member of the Harlem Renaissance, Philip Guthrie Hoffman.

Salve Regina University (Newport, RI)

Salve Regina University
SalveWebT, Wakehurst1, CC BY-SA 4.0

Salve Regina University is a private co-educational university located in Newport, Rhode Island. It enrolls more than 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students yearly and offers a comprehensive and innovative liberal arts curriculum. 

This university’s beautiful campus stems in large part to its oceanside location in Rhode Island. Here, the college blends in perfectly with the sights and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. Newport, Rhode Island is globally known for its beaches, just minutes away from the Salve Regina campus.

Salve Regina, which means “Hail the Queen!,” is noted for its one-of-a-kind period architecture. Ranked by Architectural Digest among the 50 most beautiful colleges in the country, Salve Regina was also ranked by Money Magazine among the most transformative colleges in the country

Flagler College (St. Augustine, FL)

Flagler College
DXR, Flagler College, Ponce de Leon Hotel, CC BY-SA 4.0

Flagler College is a private liberal arts college located in beautiful St. Augustine. Built on 19 acres complete with palm trees and sunny Florida skies, St. Augustine is home to the Ponce de Leon Hotel, a historic building constructed in 1888 as a luxury getaway. The architects who designed it worked for Henry Morrison Flagler himself, the industrialist, oil magnate, and namesake for the college. This building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The interior design of Flagler College’s facilities are among the most outstanding of any college or university in the entire country. The campus has been kept in beautiful condition, with the original ceiling and wall paintings, the original Tiffany windows, beautifully crafted wood-carved columns, quartz chandeliers, and more.

Here are some notable alumni from Flagler College: Scott Lagasse, Jr., an American professional stock car driver who competes in NASCAR; Theresa Meeker, a notable actress and writer; and Chris Barnwell, a Canadian-American former professional baseball player.

Florida Southern College (Lakeland, FL)

Florida Southern College
Ebyabe, Lakeland FSC Pfeiffer Chapel, CC BY-SA 2.5

From an architectural standpoint, Florida Southern is among the most beautiful institutions of higher education. Florida Southern is home to a collection of buildings designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most important architect of the 20th century. This collection of buildings, known as the Child of the Sun, houses a number of significant buildings; this special collection was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Lakeland, Florida has a suburban setting near many major attractions. It is less than an hour away from Disney World, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios, and Sea World. Students interested in beach life are less than an hour away from the Gulf of Mexico and approximately 90 minutes from the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.

More interesting facts about Florida Southern College are that Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in Florida and was founded in 1883 as the South Florida Institute. The Detroit Tigers hold their spring training in the area, great for the baseball lovers in Lakeland. The Florida Southern campus is the home to the most extensive collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in one location.

Ramapo College (Mahwah, NJ)

Ramapo College
Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture, Ramapo College, Salameno Spiritual Center, CC BY-SA 4.0

Ramapo College in New Jersey is a public, liberal arts college with some of the most beautiful scenery of any college in the country. Situated in the foothills of New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains, Conde Nast Traveler magazine ranked it among the top 50 most beautiful colleges in 2020

The facilities at Ramapo College’s 300-acre campus are among the most outstanding of any college in the country. They include 12 lighted tennis courts, a performing arts center with specialized spaces, and even a spiritual center. Additionally, Ramapo is home to not just one but multiple art and photography galleries open to both students and the public.

Ramapo’s excellence as a college does not end at its aesthetics. In fact, Forbes Magazine recently ranked Ramapo among the top 10% of all colleges in the country, as well as one of the best values of any higher education institution. US News additionally ranked Ramapo among the Best Regional Universities in the North.

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