Stephanie is a cherished member of the Sampling America writing team, dedicated to crafting captivating narratives that transport readers to thrilling adventures across the country and beyond.
In the United States, college campuses are known for having some of the most beautiful architecture with stunning natural beauty.
Many colleges are hundreds of years old and reflect unique building styles of times past. Many of the well-known schools showcase a building style called Collegiate Gothic, which draws inspiration from historic English buildings and neoclassical movements.
Follow along for our top 15 most beautiful college campuses you can visit throughout the year for renewed inspiration for architecture and education.
University of Hawaii at Mānoa
Sitting on the stunning island of Honolulu is one of the oldest schools in the University of Hawaii system.
Just outside the downtown core, this stunning place offers a mixture of classic collegiate American and traditional Hawaiian architectural styles. Many people stop by for guided tours when visiting this tropical island.
Providence, Rhode Island, is out of the way, so roadtrippers usually skip this location when driving through New England.
However, it’s a huge mistake to avoid visiting this Ivy League school. Built during the 18th and 19th centuries, this old brick school blends beautifully with the surrounding town. Architecture buffs will be excited to see a display of Victorian, Georgian, and Gothic buildings at this school.
University of Vermont
Vermont is a well-known tourist destination for those wanting to experience the ultimate fall experience, usually at a quaint Bed and Breakfast.
Initially built in 1802 and reconstructed after a fire in 1825, the old school in Burlington, Vermont, is a place anyone should visit if they’re looking to see fall foliage in an academic setting.
Although Connecticut is famous for being home to Yale University, Trinity College is a rival in architecture and natural beauty.
Several famed architects built this school. The Gothic stone buildings were constructed by British designer William Burges in 1878. Frederick Law Olmsted thought up the school’s quad.
Another famed location in Tennessee, Vanderbilt, was designed around a national arboretum that hosts 200 species of trees and shrubs.
Plant lovers should rejoice when visiting this unique college campus. The red brick buildings and dramatic clock tower make this a favorite road trip pit stop for Southerners.
University of Washington
Collegiate Gothic buildings line the walkways of this liberal arts college in Washington State. People from all over the country visit in spring to experience the 30 Yoshino cherry trees that bloom with stunning pink flowers.
This unique campus based in Seattle is always happy to host visitors to show off the oldest campus on the West Coast.
Situated in the middle of Manhattan, Columbia University is a location on many New York City architecture tours.
The way the campus was built makes it feel like you’re in the countryside enjoying a palatial university. The architecture here draws on inspiration from Greek and Victorian styles.
University of Missouri
Affectionately named ‘Mizzou,’ this university in the heart of Columbia, Missouri, is a stunning example of American architecture.
Six columns frame the front quad of a stunning building. These columns are the only thing left over from the original Academic Hall that burned down in 1892.
University of California, Berkeley
Designed by famed architect Émile Bénard, who created the well-known Beaux Arts Campus, this stunning school has been home to many excellent business people and innovators over the years.
Take a tour here while visiting the San Francisco Valley to gain a better knowledge of the UC system.
Situated in Ithaca, New York, Cornell is home to one of the most picturesque campuses next to the rolling hills of upstate. The diverse architecture is sure to impress when visiting.
The older buildings here show off the Collegiate Gothic, neoclassical, and Victorian popular styles while the university was slowly growing over the years.
University of Chicago
The dramatic architecture at the Obamas’ alma mater was inspired by buildings at Oxford University. Although in the American midwest, this university transports you to a new world.
The school dates to the late 19th century and has been educating some of the world’s best and brightest ever since. Consider taking a tour to get a feel of this renowned research institution.
The most well-known building on the Duke campus is the Chapel, a towering Collegiate Gothic church that rivals a Hollywood set.
Constructed in Durham, North Carolina, this institution is a wonderful place to visit and tour while driving through charming Southern towns.
It would be a mistake to leave Yale University off a list of places to visit to experience the academic charm of a Gothic institution.
Most of the buildings at Yale are built in the Collegiate Gothic style, creating what seems to be a small town of stunning red brick buildings.
Known as one of the most prestigious schools in the United States, Harvard offers several walking tours of the campus to learn more about the Cambridge groups and the history of the campus.
Consider buying tickets to one of the several art museums or the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see some of the groundbreaking research taking place at this institution.
The University of Notre Dame
Known as one of the most dramatic university campuses in the country, Notre Dame is a private catholic university founded in 1842 and known for its stunning cathedral.
The campus hosts several Gothic buildings that look incredibly dramatic against the Southern background.
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