The 5 Most Beautiful College Campuses in Pennsylvania Will Leave You Speechless
The Keystone State has plenty of breathtaking natural scenery throughout its forests, farmlands, mountains, bustling cities, and charming, historic towns. However, some of the best places to see the state’s scenic beauty are on its college campuses. Consistently ranked at the top of the country’s most scenic universities, the 5 most beautiful college campuses in Pennsylvania will leave you breathless.
1. University of Pennsylvania
Located in Philadelphia, PA, the University of Pennsylvania (also known as UPenn) is considered by many to be one of the Keystone State’s most beautiful college campuses. Ranked “The Most Beautiful College in PA” in 2017 by Travel Leisure, UPenn has it all: stunning city views, trees, parks, sprawling natural beauty, and distinctive, classic architecture.
UPenn’s nearly 300 acres reflect the heritage, history, and culture of both the campus and the city of Philadelphia itself. The sprawling campus’ city backdrop contrasts nicely with its tree-lined pathways and scenic splendor, while its modern buildings accentuate its many notable, classic landmarks. One of UPenn’s most unique features is walkways engraved with quotes by Pennsylvania’s famous founding father, Ben Franklin.
Notably, UPenn was designated an arboretum in 2017. Described as an “urban forest,” the campus is home to more than 6,500 trees in its collection. This includes over 240 species of trees and shrubs, ten specialty gardens, and five urban parks. Morris Arboretum & Garden plays a central role in maintaining the campus’ diverse ecology, sustainability, and natural beauty and is also responsible for introducing new and experimental species to the campus landscape.
2. Lehigh University
Consistently ranked one of the best overall universities in the U.S., Lehigh University is located in historic Bethlehem, PA. However, the campus’ scenic beauty has also earned national attention, recently ranking #10 on the USA By Numbers list of the 17 most beautiful campuses across the country. Founded over 150 years ago by entrepreneur and philanthropist Asa Packer, the historic campus continuously evolves, grows, and expands its role in the local community. Lehigh’s modern additions complement its classic architectural landmarks beautifully, while its tree-filled, hilltop campus stuns in every season.
Lehigh’s centralized location in Bethlehem puts it squarely at the heart of the Lehigh Valley, one of the state’s fastest-growing regions. Bethlehem’s historic charm and scenic natural beauty make it an ideal backdrop for Lehigh’s classic architecture, while the city’s small-town feel is welcoming to both students and visitors alike.
Designated as a Tree Campus USA in 2022, Lehigh’s trees are an important part of the campus experience. The college has numerous committees dedicated to preserving and promoting sustainability among its trees, green spaces, and forests. Lehigh has more than 100 species among the campus’ thousands of trees. This includes every species native to Pennsylvania and diverse species from other regions of the U.S. and the world. Many of Lehigh’s trees are notable for their age, historic significance, and scenic beauty.
3. Bryn Mawr College
Located in Bryn Mawr, PA, Bryn Mawr College is consistently ranked one of the state’s most beautiful college campuses. Recently, Bryn Mawr was rated #13 on a list of the 17 most beautiful campuses across the country by USA Numbers. In 1885, Bryn Mawr was founded as a Quaker institution and is now a private and prestigious women’s liberal arts college. The picturesque campus is a designated arboretum and was designed by noted landscape designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
Bryn Mawr is one of many suburban villages around Philadelphia and is about 30 minutes from the city. Though the town is relatively small, its lovely parks, historic homes, and cultural attractions make it worth a visit. Those looking to visit the scenic campus can take a tour of its famed gardens and notable architecture, including landmarks like the Blanca Noel Taft Memorial Garden, the Old Library, and the Marjorie Walter Goodhart Theater. The 135-acre campus is a designated arboretum with abundant trees and flowers, in addition to a number of manicured gardens.
4. Duquesne University
Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Duquesne University is the perfect mix of green spaces and stunning city views. Consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful college campuses in Pennsylvania, the 49-acre campus is a park-like oasis in an urban setting.
Founded in 1898, Duquesne University is a private educational institution. The top-ranked Catholic university is full of scenic beauty, a picturesque mix of tree-lined pathways and historic architecture. Recently, the small campus has nearly tripled in size with the addition of new facilities, including the Power Center. Duquesne’s Pittsburgh locale is at the center of one of Pennsylvania’s most vibrant and historic cities.
Despite its urban location, Duquesne has 69 tree varieties throughout the campus’ over 500 trees. In 2023, Duquesne University garnered Tree Campus Higher Education recognition from The Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management; an honor reserved for educational institutions that meet the Tree Campus Higher Education’s five standards. Duquesne is dedicated to preserving its natural beauty through conservation and sustainability.
5. Bucknell University
Bucknell University is located in Lewisburg, PA, and is considered one of the most beautiful college campuses in Pennsylvania. Designated one of the country’s 10 most beautiful campuses by The Princeton Review, Bucknell’s 445-acre campus is scenic in every season.
Founded in 1846 as the University of Lewisburg, Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college. Known for its picturesque central Pennsylvania location, the surrounding area is as beautiful as the campus itself. Consisting of over 100 buildings, Bucknell’s location near the Susquehanna River offers plenty of panoramic views, including nearby Nittany Mountain.
Bucknell is home to hundreds of trees, including mature trees that pre-date the university. A program dedicated to preserving natural diversity and promoting sustainability, Bucknell has developed its own Arboretum Project. An important resource used to map and identify the campus’ tree species, the project also aims to preserve and protect Bucknell’s scenic and historic natural landscapes.
Pennsylvania is home to many beautiful colleges and universities. Some, like the University of Pennsylvania, are larger, more famous big city schools, while others, like Bryn Mawr College, are small in size but no less beautiful. However, all five of the colleges and universities above represent the Keystone State’s best when it comes to campuses full of history, charm, and scenic natural beauty.
|1. University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia|
|1. University of Pennsylvania||Bethlehem|
|2. Lehigh University||Bryn Mawr|
|4. Duquesne University||Pittsburgh|
|3. Bryn Mawr College||Lewisburg|