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4 Beautiful College Campuses to Visit in Fall

Fall is the perfect time of year to visit a college campus.

Come fall, I can’t help but remember those first few weeks at school. Anxiety about registering for classes, spending your life savings on text books, praying your new roommate wasn’t a total weirdo, and the excitement of living on your own for the first time. There are so many gorgeous universities in the states, but a few of them really shine come autumn.

Here’s a few you might want to check out, even if you’re past your college days.

University of Notre Dame


The view from I-90 through Indiana isn’t much to look at (sorry, Hoosiers, but you know it’s true). But just south of the freeway in South Bend, you’ll find one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Take a stroll around St Joseph’s Lake for beautiful views of the Golden Dome and Basilica of the Sacred Heart, surrounded by brilliant fall leaves. If you want the full Notre Dame experience, you have to go on a football weekend. Be sure to book your accommodations far in advance—fans of the Fighting Irish are serious about game day and arrive in droves.

Other fun things to do in South Bend? Dinner and drinks at Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House, located on the picturesque St. Joseph River. Tour the Studebaker Museum, home to 120 vehicles spanning the 150-year-old automotive industry—including the carriage that carried President Lincoln to Ford’s Theater the night he was assassinated.

University of Wisconsin – Madison

4 Beautiful College Campuses to Visit in Fall

Located on an isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, there’s no better time of year to pay a visit to Madtown. The Badgers didn’t earn the title of Best Party School for nothing—and if you visit on a football weekend, you’ll see why. There are parties at nearly every house surrounding Camp Randall, and most college students are more than willing to extend an invitation to anyone.

For a little more grownup action, check out Capitol Square. They host an epic farmers market every Saturday through September. There’s a slew of great restaurants, too. Try the Old Fashioned for a Wisconsin-style brunch, and Graft for a leisurely dinner paired with fantastic wines. A weekend here isn’t complete without sharing a pitcher (or two) of Spotted Cow on the Union Terrace, located on Lake Mendota behind the UW’s Memorial Union. Grab a seat on one of the iconic yellow, orange or green chairs, break out a deck of cards, and try to recapture some of your glory days.

Harvard University

4 Beautiful College Campuses to Visit in Fall

When I think of back-to-school on campus, I always picture Cambridge. Founded in 1636 (what?!), Harvard is the nation’s oldest university. The school offers free, student-led walking tours from September through December. Registration begins one hour before departure time and is limited to 35 people. If the tour’s sold out or doesn’t work with your schedule, the school now offers an app, allowing for self-led tours through your smartphone or tablet. Be sure to allocate time to peruse the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the university’s more visited attraction. Their Africa exhibition is especially cool for kids—get up close and personal with mounted hippos, ostriches, rhinos, and more.

If you’re in Cambridge, remember that the MIT campus is just down the road, perfect for a two-birds-with-one-stone college campus trip. Visit the MIT Museum for science and art exhibits. For a needed break from academia, check out a show at ImprovBoston, New England’s leading comedy theater, and school.


University of Colorado Boulder

4 Beautiful College Campuses to Visit in Fall

It’s no wonder, so many students want a degree from Boulder—even studying is more fun with the Rockies as your backdrop. Fall brings colorful leaves, fresh mountain air, and lots of fun outdoor activities. There are many places to hike near the university, with easy to quite challenging routes. The City of Boulder is a great resource for hiking suggestions and trail maps. Boulder is incredibly bike-friendly, with lots of allocated bike lanes and an extensive trail system. Check out B-cycle, the city’s bike share program if you want to bum around town on two wheels. For road and mountain bike rentals, check out Full Cycle Bikes.

If you can, try to peel yourself away from the great outdoors for a little bit to enjoy the Fiske Planetarium. Funded by Boulder alum Wallace Franz Fiske in 1975, this state-of-the-art space hosts star talks, laser light shows, and live events. In 2013, it upgraded to an 8K SkyScan projection system, creating a theater similar to an IMAX experience, except that you’re fully surrounded. Who knew indoor stargazing could be so fun?

What are your favorite college campuses to visit in the fall? Share in the comments!

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There's nothing quite like fall on campus. Here are a few schools worth checking out in autumn.

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This Post Has 47 Comments

  1. Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. Fall foliage. The Finger Lakes. Vineyards. It’s beautiful.

  2. West Point. Breathtaking in the Fall. Attend a football game at Michie stadium ( also voted one of the most beautiful college stadiums). Black Nights are having a great season-Go Army!

      1. They knew what they were doing when they made parents’ weekend in October. So much beautiful foliage and history in that area!!

  3. Furman University in Greenville, SC. It’s a beautiful campus (it’s made a lot of lists for beautiful campuses/great schools) and it’s in an amazing town (Greenville has also been noticed for its beauty and foodie scene). 🙂

  4. Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina!!! Absolutely beautiful… it made me a Mountaineer.

  5. Also The United States Military Academy at West Point. Go to Trophy Point and gaze up the Hudson River. My favorite fall view in the world.

  6. Swarthmore College just outside Philadelphia has the most stunning campus! It’s also a renowned arboretum, and the landscaping is gorgeous, especially in the Fall, but all seasons.

  7. University of Wisconsin-Madison is just part of the attraction of a visit to Madison. Stay at the AC Marriott near the Square. The Saturday morning Farmers Market is among the tops in the country. Lots of great food and people watching. Tour the spectacular Wisconsin State Capitol which is right in the heart of the market (and has A/C and indoor restrooms open to the public.) So many great restaurants around/near the Capitol Square, our favorite is Heritage Tavern, which features local foods and house cured meats, plus craft cocktails. Also the James Beard awarded Etoile. Stop at the Square Wine Co. for a tasting and some unique wines. Stroll down State Street for the numerous shops and ethnic restaurants, towards UW campus. Try the famous ice cream at UW Bascom Hall. Have a drink on the iconic Terrace at the Student Union. Another of our “must sees” is Olbrich Gardens, spectacular botanic garden rooms. Buy gourmet chocolates from Gail Ambrosius, some of the best we’ve ever tasted anywhere. Madison is just the best!

  8. Samantha is right, the Harvard Campus is beautiful in autumn. One of our “don’t miss” attractions are the glass flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. You have not seen anything else like this and you won’t believe your eyes. Lots of great little restaurants in Cambridge and the fall foliage in Massachusetts is spectacular.

  9. By far… The Pennsylvania State University , Main Campus, State College, PA. Includes thousands of spring tulip bulbs, large developing Arboretum, new brick walkways and a stop for world renown Penn State Ice Cream at the Berkeley Center. Every tree is marked and recognized in the Master Plan.

  10. Hollins University in Roanoke, VA is magically beautiful in the fall.
    UMass Amherst and Dartmouth College round out my top three. You can’t go wrong in New England!

  11. Augustana College in Rock Island, IL is absolutely beautiful in the fall, especially walking through the Slough on campus.

  12. Without a doubt Harvard University and Boston College are the two most beautiful university campuses in the country.

  13. Cornell University in Ithaca, NY (Finger Lakes). Beautiful campus with views of Cayuga Lake. They have waterfalls, historic clock tower, a botanical garden and an arboretum featuring a lily pond, an art museum with fabulous views of the campus and lake and the students make their own ice-cream which is delicious! The Finger Lakes is waterfall & winery heaven!!

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