Texas Living

The 10 Most Beautiful College Campuses in Texas

By Peter Simek 8.24.23

Across the country, this month, students are settling back into the routine of campus life. Texas is home to dozens of top-ranked colleges and world-class research universities. And while we’re proud of our state’s impressive academic institutions, we’d like to take you on a different kind of college tour: a guide to the prettiest college campuses in Texas.

From the golden Hill Country to bustling metropolitan centers, Texas’ colleges offer settings as varied and beautiful as the natural geography. These schools also reflect the state’s rich history, culture, and architecture. So set aside the books, hop in the car, and let’s take a road trip to the most beautiful college campuses in Texas.

1. The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin stands as a symbol of academic prestige and architectural grandeur. The iconic Tower, part of the Main Building, blends Gothic Revival and Mediterranean influences, rising high above the campus. Visitors can stroll through the grounds to encounter masterpieces like the Littlefield Fountain, which reflects a proud history. The blending of beige limestone and sculpted landscapes creates a rich tapestry that invites students and tourists to uncover symbols, traditions, and architectural marvels that evoke Texan history and pride.

college campuses in Texas

2. Rice University

Rice University, located in Houston’s bustling core, combines the tranquility of lush green spaces with impressive Byzantine-inspired architecture. The campus, founded in 1912, is dotted with graceful arches and domes, forming a serene landscape that contrasts with the modern design of the Brochstein Pavilion. This urban oasis, with its harmonious blend of the historic and the new, is a contemplative space where minds are cultivated amidst beauty. Even a brief visit here feels like a soothing retreat from the urban hustle. It’s no wonder Rice was one of only three campuses that made Architectural Digest’s list of the top 100 most beautiful colleges.

3. Texas A&M University

Since 1876, Texas A&M has been a blend of tradition and innovation. From the military-inspired Academic Building to the cutting-edge Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the architectural styles on display at Texas A&M University span more than a century of influence. The campus’s most distinctive feature is the Century Tree, a symbolic icon rooted  deep in A&M’s unique college traditions. One of the first trees planted on campus, this grand old sprawling live oak has been the setting of many marriage proposals. Campus legend has it that if a couple walks under the tree, they will marry. If a couple proposes under the tree, the marriage will last forever. 

college campuses in Texas

4. Baylor University

Nestled on the banks of the Brazos River, Baylor University weaves together Georgian and contemporary architecture mirrored in the calm waters. Landmarks like Pat Neff Hall stand stately, while the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center offers a modern contrast. The Armstrong Browning Library, housing a literary treasure trove, features stunning stained-glass windows. And let’s not forget one of Baylor’s most unique features: The Bear Pit, which has been home to the school’s live mascots since the 1920s.

Photo by Anh-Viet Dinh

5. Trinity University

San Antonio’s Trinity University is a beacon of midcentury modern architecture. The red-brick Murchison Tower, designed by seminal Texas modernist O’Neil Ford, dominates the skyline, while the Skyline Room provides panoramic city views. Sculptures adorn the campus grounds, which are so lush with life that the entire campus was designated an arboretum in 2023. It is a testament to how the school’s natural and architectural coherence creates an invigorating and inspiring atmosphere.

college campuses in Texas

6. Southern Methodist University

Ivory-colored Collegiate Georgian buildings define Dallas’ Southern Methodist University. The Dallas Hall, inspired by the University of Virginia’s Rotunda, epitomizes academic elegance. SMU’s Meadows Museum adds artistic brilliance with its collection of Spanish art. The campus offers a harmonious blend of traditional charm and cultural richness, with plenty of green malls and shady courtyards for strolling and studying.

7. Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University campus is a mix of Brownstone and Collegiate Gothic styles. One of the architectural highlights is the Robert Carr Chapel, adorned with beautiful stained glass and stone carvings, while the whimsical Frog Fountain adds spirited, quirky charm. Founded in 1873, the campus, nestled into the rolling terrain south of downtown Fort Worth, presents a stately and welcoming sense of academic grandeur.

college campuses in Texas

8. University of Houston

Bold and avant-garde, the University of Houston’s campus is a vision of contemporary innovation. Angular designs like the Moores Opera House and the Cullen Fountain reflect the school’s forward-thinking spirit. Since its founding in 1927, the University of Houston has distinguished itself from other Texas universities by looking not back through time, but beyond, for architectural inspiration that could match its vision and ambition. The result is a place that feels alive and unshackled, an inspiring backdrop for intellectual exploration and artistic inspiration.

Photo by Travis Witt

9. Texas State University

Perched in the rolling hills of San Marcos, Texas State University offers scenic views with charming red-brick buildings. The Albert B. Alkek Library, the architectural heart of the campus, overlooks a valley, offering a tranquil setting for study and contemplation. It’s a haven where natural beauty meets architectural elegance. The campus is a picturesque representation of academic tranquility, from the iconic Old Main building to the lush landscapes.

college campuses in Texas

10. Texas Tech University

Established in 1923, Texas Tech’s Spanish Renaissance architecture and red tile roofs honor its southwestern heritage. One style highlight is the Administration Building, which looks as if it were plucked from the outskirts of Madrid and dropped into Lubbock. This magnificent building sets the tone for the cultural oasis on the flats of West Texas that offers open plazas and beautifully landscaped gardens that create a lively ambiance for students. And like all Texas schools, the campus also features elements, like the Double T Bench, that are steeped in tradition and lore. First-year students are forbidden from sitting on the concrete bench forged in the shape of the iconic Texas Tech logo, and if a girl wants a date to a football game, all she must do is sit on the bench, and one will find her.

There’s plenty more collegiate lore where that came from. Read up on seven of the most Texas college traditions before you head to your next campus visit.

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