Places to Study: Best College Campuses

Last Updated on February 4, 2022

While the US News & World Report ranks the top colleges every year, these schools do not necessarily reside on the best looking or most exciting campuses in the US.

Certain American universities have become iconic, stand alone works of architectural wonder. Their landscapes are beautiful, their histories are tied in with the fabric of the community, and very often, entire neighborhoods, if not cities, have been built around these academic centers of higher learning.

Now we can not list every gorgeous or dynamic campus in this article, so forgive me if I neglect your alma mater, an institution to which you have an emotional connection, and/or one you are certain deserves to be on this list.

As with any opinion based post, I am sure there will be much debate and disagreement, but what can not be disputed is that the following campuses are beautiful, lively, and renowned in their own right. Below is a list of my top ten college campuses, providing top tier academics, gorgeous facilities and scenery, and an abundance of activities.

Harvard University

This scholastic powerhouse offers more than just the top academic institution in the world. Beyond its colonial charm and gorgeous architecture, Cambridge, MA is an amazing university town with Harvard, MIT, Boston College, and Boston University in the vicinity. Not to mention that Boston, a thriving metropolis with an opera house, great restaurants, and plenty of sports passion is right across the bridge.

University of Wisconsin

Madison is on everyone’s list of favorite college towns. The lake view creates a landscape considered by many to be the most beautiful of any campus in the US. Not to mention that the sports teams, party life, and education are top tier. If you want the true campus experience in a trendy and fun town that isn’t a sprawling metropolis, UW in Madison is your spot.

Tulane University

Obviously, New Orleans in an incredibly unique town. The food is second to none with jambalaya, Gumbo, craw fish, and other Cajun and Creole specialties on the menu. Marti Gras anyone? Besides the benefits of the city, Tulane is a top university with a varied social scene, from Greek to independent options, one will never be bored on this attractive southern campus.

University of Washington

Cherry trees in bloom are a common site on this marvel of a campus. The natural beauty here is second to none. Activities are abundant as well, whether it is watching the huskies play football or basketball or frequenting one of the great cities in the US…Seattle, WA. If you are the laid back west coast type, and can handle a bit of rain, UW is an amazing combination of nature meets city meets scholastic opportunity.

University of Virginia

This campus is a “Southern Bell.” You will feel as if you are walking through colonial America as you trek to class or through the streets of Charlottesville. The home of the founding father and university founder Thomas Jefferson is overflowing with history and tradition. The campus is beautiful and Washington D.C. can be visited on the weekends if you feel the need for a city break. This top public university is a great option for anyone looking for a bit of southern charm in their life.

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor is perhaps the ultimate college town. It is lively, it is cultured, it has elite academics, and offers an abundance of activities. For the sports crazed or the sophisticated artist types Ann Arbor is a versatile town that can satisfy its varied student population. The architecture and campus topography is eye candy as well, from its foliage to its roman libraries, Ann Arbor is a special place.

Stanford University

Perhaps the most beautiful university in America, the “Harvard of the West Coast” is a special place. Stanford is in the heart of California’s wine country and provides a pristine setting within which to study towards a college degree. The campus itself is not as lively as some of the others on the list, so weekend trips to San Francisco and local vineyard attractions may be in the cards. Either way, if you are lucky enough to be to get into this elite institution, jump on it….and if not, at least visit this Palo Alto campus once in your life.

University of Colorado

Nestled in the Rockies, Boulder Colorado offers a beautiful and unique setting within which to attend college. Nature lovers and hippies have long voyaged to this locale to enjoy outdoor activities from bike riding to hiking to skiing. The school itself offers a top tier education and an amazing Greek and party scene. And for those needing some city action, trips to Denver are always an option. If you like granola and camping, the University of Colorado may be the right spot for you.

New York University

New York, New York. Not much else needs to be said. NYU has top academic programs, but its biggest attraction is the city itself. If you are looking for the college town experience, this is probably not the best option for you. But if you are intrigued by a school located in the grandest metropolis of them all, then you can do no better than NYU. The SOHO and Bleeker Street area is up and coming with bars, shops and restaurants popping up everyday. Food and nightlife is second to none, of course. I mean really, would you expect anything less of NYC?

University of Texas

Hook Em Horns! Austin is not a small stereotypical conservative Texas town. In fact, its a capital of rock bands and an underground alternative music scene. Yep, the University of Texas campus is in an amazing, lively community of arts and culture. Now, of course, football and the sports scene still reign supreme on this traditional college campus, but never doubt that the academics are elite and the activities abundant in this beautiful and charming town.

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