Pepperdine University

University in Malibu & Pacific Palisades

Self-assuredly holding court on 830 acres atop a grassy slope down to the ocean where deer graze at sundown, this private, Christian institution has views of the Pacific and the mountains and is consistently ranked one of America's most beautiful campuses.

Notable faculty over the years have included Ben Stein (former law professor who played the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and current political gadfly) and former law-school dean Kenneth Starr, who previously was the independent investigator who revealed to the world where Bill Clinton put his cigars.

Art fans should check out the latest show at the university’s Frederick R Weisman Museum of Art, which rotates edgy works created by contemporary American artists.