Ivy League colleges are blessed with layers of history that often date back further than the Declaration of Independence. Some of the highest ranking politicians and greatest thinkers of our country were educated at these institutions. Even if you’re just pretending to have a high-achieving kid taking college tours or a brainy friend who attends the school, pack your bags with your preppiest clothes, grab a pal and visit these spots at America’s most beautiful campuses.
To start off your tour, you might as well visit one of the most popular colleges in the world: Columbia. The NYC-based University is seriously chock full of history and famous alums. For starters, they’re the only Ivy league college with a journalism school and it just so happens that it was founded by Joseph Pulitzer—yes, that Pulitzer. And that’s just the beginning: Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Warren Buffet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and plenty others walked the halls at the New York college. The architecture has also caught the eye of Hollywood. Famous movie scenes often depict the Low Memorial Library like Spiderman and Ghostbusters. This calls for an obligatory Peter Parker reenactment picture at the foot of the library’s stairs.
Not every university can say they’ve been in a major motion picture, but then again most can’t say they were founded by one of America’s founding fathers. The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin, so naturally there are references and statues commemorating him—literally everywhere. You can make it a game to take pictures with all of the statues (don’t miss sitting next to Ben on a bench). There are three on campus, but plenty more around Philly including the Bolt of Lightning sculpture at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. We’re tellin’ you, Philadelphia really loves ol’ Benny. The outdoor art doesn’t stop there: Morris Arboretum has a scavenger hunt based on their collection of sculptures! Solve the riddles and find the art or walk among the trees at the Tree Adventure exhibit.
Speaking of Founding Fathers, just an hour or so north of Penn lies Princeton University which also played a huge role in the American Revolution… you get the picture from some of the more popular pubs like Yankee Doodle Taproom and Triumph Brewing Company. A stop at Princeton isn’t just for prospective students (though you may get jealous of the stunning campus). History buffs can get their fix at Drumthwacket, the New Jersey governor’s home that once was home to a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Or, you can hang with a different kind of rebel at the Princeton Record Exchange, one of the few independent record stores still bustling.
Starting to feel disappointed you didn’t get accepted to these colleges? Yale University has plenty of awesome museums and parks that allow you to pretend you’re a student! Towards the center of campus you’ll find the Yale Center for British Art and Yale University Art Gallery. Designed by Louis Kahn, the exteriors to these architectural feats are as impressive as the collections inside, which feature famous artwork from Vincent van Gogh, Diego Velázquez (recently unearthed from the basement!), and plenty more from the world’s history of art.
Take a jaunt down High Street towards the center of campus and pass the legendary Skull and Bones secret society on your way. This unassuming fortress is home to 16 hand picked seniors who do… well, we’re not sure what they do exactly, but if you’re lucky, you might even see alumni George Bush submerge from the “tomb.”
Finally, bookworms, architects, and even science whizzes should not miss the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. This stunning granite edifice is a stronghold for books like a Gutenberg Bible (one of 48 in the world!), and there are some crazy security measures to keep the gems in tact. For example, get out if you smell smoke! This building is designed to instantly suck all oxygen out of the premise in the case of the fire… oh, and all books are frozen before being added to the collection to prevent insect infestations. Darn bookworms!
To end this east coast rodeo, visit perhaps the most acclaimed university, the one and only Harvard University. “Pahk the cahr in Hahvuhd Yahd” - the oldest part of the school. Harvard Yard is 22.4 acres is enclosed by 27 gates... just don’t actually park your car in the yard. In the Yard you will find the John Harvard statue. It is said to be the third most photographed statue in the United States, behind the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial. Students rub his toe on their way to class hoping for extra luck on exams. But, it’s also known that freshmen relieve themselves on the statue, so if you’re in desperate need of superstitious luck we highly recommend you pack some Purell. We can’t forget to mention Flat Patties—the ultimate late night snack on the weekends. Just don’t skip the frozen custard!
Maybe you didn’t get accepted to an Ivy League school, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the campuses. Visit the nature oasis at Cornell Plantations and make a stop at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art —and don’t skip the Orozco Murals at Dartmouth College. Bring a friend with you and relive the college days at some of these incredible landmarks.