College never looked so good.

Campus is elegant but not stuffy; it’s big but feels cozy. You can easily walk or bike across its core, but beyond that are hundreds of acres to explore—2,600 of them.
Our indoor spaces are impressive, too. The older buildings are stunning, thanks to renowned architect Bernard Maybeck. Some have vaulted ceilings and fireplaces so big you can stand in them while you roast marshmallows.
We’ve got more modern buildings, too. Our newest is the Coach Crafton Athletic Center with state-of-the-art facilities, including two weight rooms, an indoor track, a pole vault pit, a golf/batting cage, basketball/volleyball courts, and an eight-lane, 40-meter stretch pool with a separate diving well. Put the old and the new together, and you’ve got space for just about anything from recreation to reflection, from Sunday evening hymn sings to movie night on the Chapel green.

Campus Surroundings

Principia College is located in historic Elsah, Illinois, along the Mississippi River. Several small towns surround Elsah, providing access to everything from quaint antique shops to “big box” stores like Target and Walmart. You’ll also find a variety of eating options near campus. There’s organic pizza at “R” Pizza Farm, seafood at Finn Inn, steaks at Tony’s, pie à la mode at My Just Desserts, or concretes at Shiver’s Frozen Custard. If you like live music or arcade games with your food, try the Rotten Apple or Grafton Keller’s Too.

For nature lovers, there’s . . . well, the entire campus. You’d be hard pressed to find more scenic Midwestern space than the College. It’s paradise for botanists and bird watchers, too. But if you want a change of scenery that still keeps you close to nature, Pere Marquette State Park is just up the River Road. The largest state park in Illinois, it’s a popular place—along with the bluffs on campus—for watching bald eagles soar.

St. Louis 

On the other side of the river, just forty-five minutes away, St. Louis offers everything you’d expect from a major metropolitan area: museums, clubs, the symphony, professional sports, and restaurants galore. Student favorites include the Pageant (a good venue for smaller bands), the Melting Pot (popular for date nights), Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play) and the City Museum (an indoor playground for adults). Then there’s Forest Park: 500 acres larger than Central Park in NYC, it contains art and history museums, a world-class zoo, restaurants, golf, ice skating, recreational boating, and tennis. To see for miles in every direction, head to the top of the Arch, or for a dense urban scene, visit the Loop on Friday or Saturday night. A six-block area of boutiques, galleries, and live entertainment, this stretch of Delmar Avenue was recently voted one of the top ten streets in the country.

Urban or rural, casual or classy—whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it on one side of the river or the other.

Driving tours of Principia College are always welcome during daylight hours. Download audio for the driving tour here.

Guided tours are handled through the Historic Elsah Foundation. Please call 618.374.1565 or e-mail

Should you have any questions, the contact for Principia College is Sue Thoma,, or 618.374.5148.