The most beautiful college campuses in the Midwest

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For public and private college students who elect to live on campus, why not invest in an academic home rich in more than knowledge and history but scenic views too? While the east and west coasts are known for their brochure-friendly Ivy Leagues and oceanside academies, the Midwest has some equally eye-catching campus contenders.

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Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

Located right on the shore of Lake Michigan, students at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, have clear views of the stunning Chicago skyline. The campus is full of greenery, trees and flowers as well as a variety of architectural styles, including the Victorian Gothic University Hall and the modern Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, which has floor-to-ceiling glass walls to take in the lakeside views.

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St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota)

Maple trees dapple the scenic campus of Minnesota's St. Olaf College, which is also surrounded by woodlands, wetlands and prairies. Two of its buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

The University of Chicago's ivy-covered Collegiate Gothic structures were inspired by Oxford, and its 217-acre campus near Lake Michigan straddles the Midway Plaisance, a linear park created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Multiple campus buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the school has its own botanical garden.

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University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

The University of Cincinnati moved to its current campus in 1893 but in recent decades has been updating its appearance by commissioning new buildings designed by "signature architects." Frank Gehry's Vontz Center for Molecular Studies and Peter Eisenman's Aronoff Center for Art and Design are among the campus's modern gems.


University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri)

Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri campus is centered on Francis Quadrangle. This official national landmark area is home to six columns that are the only remaining part of the original Academic Hall, which burned down in 1892. The 735-acre Mizzou Botanic Garden also spans the entirety of campus.

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University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)

The golden dome of Notre Dame's Main Building is an emblem of this Indiana university, but the charming campus has many other beautiful sights that draw in more than 1 million visitors to the school every year. For example, the neo-Gothic Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the tallest university chapel in America and has 44 large stained glass windows.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison sits between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, and students and visitors can take in the scenery from the waterfront terrace at the student union. At the center of the school's main quad sits Bascom Hall. The university also has plenty of green space as well as a botanic garden and greenhouse.


Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)

Washington University was originally located in downtown St. Louis but moved not long after the turn of the century to 169 acres just outside the western edge of the city. The school's architects designed new Collegiate Gothic-style buildings inspired by Oxford and Cambridge, the same style as some of the biggest mansions in America.

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