The Ultimate Summer Road Trip for Architecture + Design Enthusiasts

Enough with the bucket lists. This summer, you're seeing those gems in person.

This is a monumental year in the world of design and architecture. The Golden Gate Bridge turned 80 years old; American architect and interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright just celebrated his 150th birthday; and another major pioneer, Paul Revere Williams, was the first African-American architect to receive the AIA Gold Medal.

With so many causes for celebration, you can bet there are events to attend in cities all across the country. So go ahead — mark your calendars, pack your bags and hit the road for a trip you won't soon forget.

Freedom Trail Walking Tour / Boston, Mass.

Trinity Church in Boston, MA

Trinity Church in Boston, MA

Boston, USA - June 7, 2016: People relax at the Copley Square fountain, located next to Trinity Church, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo by: iStock/Arpad Benedek

iStock/Arpad Benedek

Every good road trip includes a little spontaneity, so don't be afraid to start the adventure early. Friday, June 23rd, head to Boston, Mass., for a walking tour of Freedom Trail with Boston By Foot. Here, you'll be introduced to architectural gems like the Old State House, Faneuil Hall and the first public school in America. After your tour? Visit Copley Square for a peek at this beauty, Trinity Church. Get the details here.

Yale University / New Haven, Conn.

Yale University

Yale University

New Haven, USA - May 4, 2015: Yale University campus on April 4, 2015. It is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701

Photo by: iStock/f11photo


Now that you've successfully navigated The Bay State, it's time to arrive in New Haven, Conn. More specifically, you're here to visit Yale University, where the campus is just as impressive as the school's Ivy League status. Architecture enthusiasts will want to wander the grounds and view the mix of Collegiate Gothic and modern buildings. Gilmore Girls fans, on the other hand, will surely want to see all of the the school's fifteen libraries.

New York Public Library / New York, N.Y.

New York Public Library Interior

New York Public Library Interior

New York, United States - September 11, 2013: people study in the New York Public Library on September 11, 2013 in Manhattan, New York City. New York Public Library is the third largest public library in North America.

Photo by: iStock/cla78


Speaking of libraries, we insist that you add the New York Public Library to your summer to-do list. Established back in 1895, the building boasts a beautiful marble facade accentuated by two "Library Lions," Patience and Fortitude. Arrive before 11 a.m. to reserve your spot on the free docent-led tour of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which includes a look at the Rose Main Reading Room above. Get the details here.

LongHouse Reserve / East Hampton, N.Y.

LongHouse Reserve

LongHouse Reserve

Photo by: LongHouse Reserve - Facebook

LongHouse Reserve - Facebook

While you're still (relatively) in the area, make a detour to the LongHouse Reserve. Founded by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, LongHouse was built as a case study to exemplify a creative approach to life. Today, the whimsical 16-acre reserve receives guests from all over the world who come to admire art by legends like Buckminster Fuller and Yoko Ono. Get the details here.

Cape May Show House / Cape May, N.J.

Cape May, New Jersey at Sunset

Cape May, New Jersey at Sunset

Cape May Point landscape

Photo by: iStock/pkujiahe


Welcome to beautiful Cape May, N.J., where a talented team of designers has been busy at work transforming the historic John P. Forsythe Home into a visual wonder. Open from June to November, this regional show house includes three floors with eight bedrooms, three porches and a spiral staircase for design enthusiasts to explore. Get the details here.

National Mall / Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC
Museum of African American History and Culture

Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

Photo By: iStock/sborisov

Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington DC, USA – NOVEMBER 5, 2016: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture at sunset on November 5, 2016 in Washington DC.

Photo By: iStock/amedved

You've probably been to D.C. at least once or twice as a kid, but a lot has changed since then. Schedule a day to admire Neoclassical gems like the White House and Capitol Building, wander the length of the National Mall and check out the newest architectural addition, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Get the details here.

Fallingwater Lecture + Tour / Mill Run, Pa.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater

Mill Run, PA, United States - April 18, 2014: One of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous works, Fallingwater was designed in 1935 and completed in 1937. Remarkable in that it seems to hover over a 30-foot waterfall, it is an example of Wright's organic design style. The house is well integrated with the environment, with gravity defying cantilevered balconies.

Photo by: iStock/Supercel7


Okay, so it's a little out of the way, but you can't blame us for adding this modern masterpiece to the list. Built between 1936 and 1939, Frank Lloyd Wright's home, Fallingwater, is the essence of organic architecture. Head to Mill Run, Pa., on July 6th for a quick lecture in honor of the architect's 150th birthday, then see his work up-close with a guided tour. Get the details here.

Alexander Girard Exhibit / Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Cranbrook Museum Alexander Girard Exhibit

Cranbrook Museum Alexander Girard Exhibit

Photo by: Cranbrook Art Museum via Dexigner

Cranbrook Art Museum via Dexigner

For more insight on midcentury modern design, visit the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. From June 17th to October 8th, guests can step inside the mind of Alexander Girard, one of the most influential interior designers of the twentieth century. You'll see countless examples of his work, from midcentury furniture to geometric textiles. Get the details here.

Skydeck Chicago + Tour / Chicago, Ill.

Chicago Skyscrapers

Chicago Skyscrapers

Photo by: iStock/dibrova


So, you're in the birthplace of the modern skyscraper: Where do you go first? Up, of course. For an unforgettable view of The Windy City, ascend 1,300 feet and step out on The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago. If your nerves are still intact after the fact (or if you'd just as soon skip the heights), explore downtown with Chicago Detours. Get the details here.

Weisman Art Museum / Minneapolis, Minn. 

Exterior of the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN

Exterior of the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, USA - March 18, 2013: Weisman Art Museum is located on The University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, designed by architect Frank Gehry, was completed in 1993

Photo by: iStock/Sophie James

iStock/Sophie James

If ever there were a time to be in Minneapolis, Minn., it's July. Not only will you enjoy the cooler weather, but you'll also have your pick of different design events. We suggest visiting the Weisman Art Museum seen above, or, if you can spare the time, hang around from July 18th to July 30th for a discussion on regenerative design, a bus tour of Prairie School homes and a walking tour of the Hennepin Avenue Theater District.

WeeCasa Tiny House Resort / Lyons, Colo. 

WeeCasa Tiny Home Resort

WeeCasa Tiny Home Resort

Photo by: Image courtesy of WeeCasa Tiny House Resort

Image courtesy of WeeCasa Tiny House Resort

If you've always wanted to test out a tiny house, then you'll be excited to learn about the WeeCasa Resort in Lyons, Colo. Choose from 22 unique tiny homes, all of which are less than 1,000 square feet, and enjoy an overnight stay learning about the small house movement and sustainability. Get the details here.

Taliesin West / Scottsdale, Ariz.

RX - Taliesin West Interior

RX - Taliesin West Interior

Photo by: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation - Taliesin West

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation - Taliesin West

As you're passing through Arizona, go ahead and detour over to Taliesin West, another masterpiece by FLW nestled in the McDowell Mountains. Although you'll have to wait until November 4th to attend Frank's 150th birthday gala, you can still tour his beloved winter home and take in the historic interiors. Get the details here.

Golden Gate Bridge / San Francisco, Calif.

Road Trip for Architecture & Design Enthusiasts - Golden Gate Bridge

Road Trip for Architecture & Design Enthusiasts - Golden Gate Bridge

Photo by: iStock/deimagine


Can we collectively agree that the Golden Gate Bridge is an architectural feat? Widely recognized for its Art Deco style and brilliant "International Orange" color, the GGB first opened 80 years ago and has since received millions of visitors. Celebrate its big anniversary with a walk over the water, and enjoy the expansive views of San Francisco. Get the details here.

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