The 17 College Campuses With The Best Fall Foliage

By now, you’ve probably already begun immersing yourself in many of the traditional autumn activities: going to bonfires with friends, hanging out at football games, sipping on pumpkin spice lattes and exploring pumpkin patches. Not only is fall the ideal season to spend quality time outdoors, but it’s also a great opportunity to embark on your college visits. Whether you’re looking to narrow down your list of potential schools, soak in the beauty of the season or just explore a nearby town, we’ve created a list of the campuses with the best fall foliage to help you get started. 

1. Sewanee: The University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee)

Despite being a small school, Sewanee has plenty of fall foliage and activities to offer. “There are 13,000 acres of lush forest, caves, trails, streams and waterfalls [on campus],” says Sewanee senior Sarah Christie. “Of course, there are also the quads and parks on campus where students enjoy sitting outside and studying or taking naps in their ENOs. When the weather cools off, students spend their weekends and free afternoons hiking, climbing, bouldering, kayaking, caving and more.”

What better way to top off your college visit than with an outdoor adventure?

2. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)

The Old Well is the trademark spot on the UNC campus and a great place to soak in the beauty of scenic Chapel Hill—including the nearby Davie Poplar tree, named after the university’s founder and known for turning bright shades of yellow and orange in the fall months.

3. Assumption College (Worcester, Massachusetts)

New England has a reputation for boasting stunning fall foliage, and Assumption is no exception. “All of the academic buildings [at Assumption] are pretty much dropped in the middle of the woods, so you can see trees out of every window and on every path to class,” says senior Sara Heath. “It's funny because everyone on campus usually comes up with their favorite tree during the fall and gets sad when mid-November rolls around and the leaves start falling off.”

Be sure to schedule a visit before winter so you have time to explore campus and discover your own favorite tree!

4. Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee)

You know Nashville for its bustling music culture, but did you know it is also home to some of the most beautiful fall foliage in the country?

“Belmont is surrounded by mountains, trails and parks that turn the prettiest shades of red and orange in the fall,” says freshman Jessica King. “On campus, we have gazebos and paths lined with trees that are gorgeous to walk through to class in all weather, but especially in the fall.”

Not to mention, southern schools don’t have to worry about super-cold fall temperatures, which means the foliage can be enjoyed late into the year!

5. The University of Oregon (Eugene, Oregon)

While the Northwest may be known for rainy days and lush greenery, there’s still plenty of fall foliage to embrace on the Oregon campus! The university keeps careful records of their trees, and the latest atlas reported over 530 individual species of trees present on the environmentally friendly campus.

6. Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania)

Quads are typically popular stops on college visits, and Bucknell is no exception. “The most beautiful places [on Bucknell’s campus] are The Quad and The Grove,” says 2013 alum Sarah Dubow. “A prospective student should definitely take a walk downtown and stop by Hufnagle Park, where you can find kids jumping in piles of leaves and plenty of free apple cider and coffee. Fall Fest also happens every year, which includes big musical acts, bread-bowl chowder, a Ferris wheel, carnival games, hay stacks and more.”

This year’s Fall Fest activities are happening throughout October, so don’t wait to schedule your visit!

7. Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

Located close to the shores of Lake Michigan, the Northwestern campus is lined with 200-year-old oaks and maples that shine in the fall. After enjoying a crisp, relaxing day on campus, you’re only a 30-minute drive away from exploring the bustling city of nearby Chicago.

8. Chatham University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

The Chatham campus is home to over 100 types of trees spread across 30 acres of land, making it an ideal spot to visit when the leaves start changing colors. “Our campus is a designated arboretum, so the foliage is always spectacular,” says senior Mara Flanagan. Not to mention, the arboretum is free and open to the public every day!

9. Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado)

The Oval at Colorado State, an open, grassy area lined with over 60 elm trees, is the perfect spot for relaxing while on your campus visit. In addition to the acres of colorful trees, Colorado State boasts some of the best mountain views of any school in the west.

10. Hanover College (Hanover, Indiana)

Ranked multiple times as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, it’s no surprise that Hanover is home to stunning fall foliage. “The quad has an open field which is lined with trees and creates a colorful tunnel when the leaves begin to change,” says freshman Katie Lents. “Hanover also has miles and miles of trails which lead to waterfalls, and the colorful leaves just add to the picturesque campus.”

When you’re done visiting campus, be sure to check out nearby downtown Madison, where the fall foliage can be appreciated from the banks of the Ohio River.

11. Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)

Not only does Miami University offer acres of gorgeous trees and nature for exploring, but downtown Oxford is full of quaint little restaurants, cafés and shops, making it the perfect place to spend a crisp, fall day. Be sure to make a stop at the Central Quad and soak in the beauty of the foliage from one of the campus’ best spots.

12. Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

While Wisconsin may be known for its harsh winters, it offers some of the most breathtaking views in the fall. “The trees that surround the St. Joan of Arc Chapel turn different colors [in the fall], and it’s a really pretty place to study,” says freshman Haley Wagoner. “Not to mention, Lake Michigan is only a little over a mile away, and it’s really fun to go down there and go to all the festivals.”

After a day visit at Marquette, plan to spend the evening relaxing in downtown Milwaukee, where you can soak in the fall foliage while walking along the lakeshore.

13. Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

The Georgetown campus offers the best of both worlds: access to one of the most bustling cities in the country plus the gorgeous trees and leaves you’d expect from an east-coast school. Not to mention, the fall foliage looks especially impressive against the historical buildings and architecture.

14. Indiana University Bloomington (Bloomington, Indiana)

Southern Indiana has a reputation for boasting some of the most breathtaking fall foliage in all of the Midwest, and the Indiana University campus is located right at the heart of the magic. “IU makes such a big deal about planting trees around campus, so it only makes sense that we have some of the best fall foliage,” says freshman Danielle Hensley. “There [are] trees everywhere you go, and they’re absolutely breathtaking during all of the seasons, but especially in the fall.”

Plus, the university is environmentally conscious: For every tree that is cut down due to the construction of new buildings, two more are planted in its place.

15. Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vermont)

Located in New England, “Middlebury is nestled in a valley between the Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains,” says senior Sophie Dodd. “Since the campus is so small and the area is so rural, the fall foliage really does take center stage and actually draws a lot of tourists this time of year.”  Not to mention, you’re only minutes from some of the most breathtaking mountain views on the east coast.

16. Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

Nothing complements the beauty of Ivy League architecture like the breathtaking hues of the red, orange and yellow maple trees that Princeton boasts in the fall. While touring the campus, be sure to stop by the university store and pick up the book The Trees of Princeton University: An Arboreal Tour of the Campus, which details the various families of trees on campus and where they can be found.

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

The fall foliage on the Wash. U. campus complements the Hogwarts-like architecture the school has become known for. “Brookings Quad is beautiful at any time of the year, but especially when the leaves begin to turn colors,” says senior Sydney Davis. “The main quad is also gorgeous when the leaves begin to change because the paths are all tree-lined. The best days are when it's still in the upper 60s and the red, orange and yellow trees are practically glowing in the sunlight.”

Despite all the autumn beauty displayed here, this list is only scratching the surface of all the fall foliage Mother Nature has to offer at campuses across the country. Make a list of schools that interest you, narrow it down and take advantage of these precious autumn days while you can! Whether you’re a junior just starting to look at colleges or a senior ready to make a decision, there’s no better time to visit schools than right now. Big or small, west coast or east coast, public or private—every campus has something to show off in the fall.