The most beautiful college campuses in the West

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Students enrolling in college (and parents who help along the way) have a lot to juggle, rank and prioritize. There are academic and financial considerations, extracurriculars and athletic programs, housing accommodations, food and dining plans, on-campus transportation and proximity to home. Now, set all the previous criteria aside and consider just one thing: beauty.


Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon)

Located south of downtown Portland, Oregon, Lewis & Clark College is surrounded by woods and bordered on one side by the Willamette River with views of Mount Hood in the distance. The campus is built around the Tudor-style Frank Manor House, a mansion with a waterfall and reflection pool.

Sara Hulan/Shutterstock

Pepperdine University (Malibu, California)

College feels like a day at the beach at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.That's because the palm tree-lined campus is located next to the Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean. The school's Mediterranean Revival buildings also lend it a uniquely West Coast charm.

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Scripps College (Claremont, California)

Scripps College combines California Mission Revival-style architecture with diverse campus landscaping and peaceful courtyards. Students can even freely pick fruit from the dozens of fruit trees around campus, including oranges, figs and pomegranates. The entire 37-acre campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.

© James Feliciano/

St. John's College Santa Fe (Santa Fe, New Mexico

St. John's has dual campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Sante Fe, New Mexico, with the latter celebrating its surroundings through Southwestern-style architecture. Located at the foot of Monte Sol with a great view of the city, the campus encourages students to explore outdoors as it has hiking trails that lead into the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains.


Stanford University (Stanford, California)

Stanford's 8,180-acre campus is stunning from the moment you enter through the mile-long, tree-lined Palm Drive to head to the California Mission-style Main Quadrangle. The school's  "architectural crown jewel" is Stanford Memorial Church, built in 1903. Climb up to the observation deck of Hoover Tower on a clear day for a clear view all the way to San Francisco.

Uladzik Kryhin/Shutterstock

University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)

UCLA's current campus was established in 1929 with only four Romanesque Revival buildings. The campus today has more than 160 buildings on more than 400 acres. The campus has sculpture gardens, fountains and plenty of tree-lined green spaces and is a popular Hollywood filming location for college scenes in movies and TV shows.

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University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado)

The University of Colorado hired architect Charles Klauder to design a distinctly rustic campus for this western state school. The Tuscan Vernacular Revival style he developed features sandstone walls, red tile roofs and limestone trim that complement the natural beauty of the campus's lake and two creeks as well as the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

© Bambi L. Dingman/

University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, Hawaii)

The Hawaiian islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, and the University of Hawaii chose a stellar location for its first campus location in Honolulu. Beyond the lush greenery and palm trees of campus, students have an excellent view of the majestic Diamond Head volcanic cone.

Phillip B. Espinasse/Shutterstock

University of Montana (Missoula, Montana)

The University of Montana's campus sits between the Clark Fork River and the 1,958-foot Mount Sentinel. The brick Renaissance Revival-style buildings with green Spanish-style tiled roofs stand out against this beautiful natural backdrop. Students can get a bird's-eye view of the campus by hiking the 3/4-mile-long zigzag M Trail up to a 125-by-100-foot concrete "M" that gets lit up every homecoming.

© Martynelson/

University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)

Founded in downtown Seattle in 1861, the University of Washington campus looks especially dreamy in the springtime, when its 30 Yoshino cherry trees are in bloom. However, the contrast between snow-capped Mount Rainier, the College Gothic buildings and the surrounding urban skyline makes for a lovely sight while strolling through campus in any season.

Mike Peters/Shutterstock

Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington)

Whitman College's campus is full of trees and outdoor sculptures and has two water areas. College Creek winds through the school's 117 acres and the geothermal spring Lakum Duckum, home to the school's beloved mallard duck population. The oldest building on campus, the Whitman Memorial Building, is on the National Register of Historic Places. This is jsut one of the many places history buffs would enjoy across the country.

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Courtesy of Whitman College
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