Iconic American Architectural Marvels You Should See at Least Once

US Air Force Academy, Colorado - Sep 22, 2017: A B24 bomber model in front of the famous Cadet Chapel

Grand Designs

The country's full of awe-inspiring natural wonders — but those made by man (and woman) are equally impressive. The architect behind a design or the creation's history, style, or purpose are all elements that may prove particularly captivating. Our cross-country survey of iconic buildings worth seeing touches on many memorable landmarks, all one-of-a-kind.

Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Washington Monument

Washington, D.C.
The 555-foot obelisk on the National Mall was built to commemorate George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army who would go on to be America's first president. The Washington Monument opened to the public in 1888, and has been a signature site in the nation's capital since. The monument is scheduled to reopen July 14 after a six-month closure. Masks are required and tickets must be purchased online in advance.

The White House in Washington, D.C.

The White House

Washington, D.C.
Everyone knows the address — 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — but did you know that the White House site was selected by George Washington in 1791? A competition for its design was won by Irish-born architect James Hoban. There have been renovations and additions over the years to the complex occupied by every president since John Adams. Today, it holds 132 rooms including 35 restrooms on six levels. And President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its name in 1901.

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Washington, D.C.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception stands as the largest Roman Catholic church in North America, one of the 10 largest churches in the world. Its design was based on Old World cathedrals, a Romanesque-Byzantine creation made of stone, brick, tile, and mortar (no steel).

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Washington, D.C.
Called "the wall that heals," this design by Maya Lin honors the men and women who served in the controversial Vietnam War, listing the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who lost their lives serving their country.

Related: 15 Awe-Inspiring Memorials and Other Places to Honor Our Vets

The Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago

The Chicago Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is certainly historic — it opened in 1897 as the city's first central public library — but also serves an official function, the reception venue where the city's mayors have welcomed dignitaries from U.S. presidents to royalty, diplomats, and more. The spot in the Loop is a draw for its beauty — including two stunning stained-glass domes, one by Tiffany.

For more fun stories like this,
please sign up for our free newsletters.

Willis Tower in Chicago
Songquan Deng/shutterstock

Willis Tower

Better known as the Sears Tower, this soaring landmark is a 110-floor, 1,450-foot skyscraper that when completed in 1973 began a 25-year reign as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and it remains one of America's 25 tallest buildings and the largest to have Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification. Today, Fazlur Rahman Khan's design is a leading tourist attraction — the Skydeck and its glass-bottom balconies are seemingly designed for the brave.

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago

O'Hare International Airport

O'Hare International Airport, the first major airport planned post-World War II, is noted for its innovative design that was filled with pioneering concepts (concourses, jet bridges) that have become standard features. Its soaring arches and light-filled walkways are legendary, led by O'Hare United Terminal 1's iconic look.

Related: 16 Most Passenger-Friendly Airports in the World

Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles
Nathan S./Yelp

Hollywood Bowl

Los Angeles
Southern California's noted destination for live music, the Hollywood Bowl opened its doors in 1922. Since then, it's hosted performers from Billie Holliday to the Beatles to Beck under its signature concentric-arched bandshell. And it even has its own museum on site.

Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Los Angeles
It's not every musical venue that can boast Frank Gehry as its designer — but the Walt Disney Concert Hall certainly can. Opened in 2003, the icon of Deconstructivism is a visual treat that also serves as home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The Stahl House in Los Angeles

The Stahl House

Los Angeles
Close your eyes and think classic L.A. home. You likely envisioned something very much like The Stahl House, or Case Study House #22, as it was part of the Case Study Houses program. The 1959 Modernist gem from architect Pierre Koenig is nestled into the Hollywood Hills and has served as a frequent movie location. Now, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Related: 19 Virtual Tours of Famous Homes

Bradbury Building in Los Angeles
S. Greg Panosian/istockphoto

Bradbury Building

Los Angeles
Glance at the Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building in L.A., and say, "OK, it's a modest 19th-century relic." Step inside — and be wowed by the light-filled Victorian court, a wonder of open-cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings. Commissioned by mining and real-estate millionaire Lewis Bradbury, its architectural history is debatable — Sumner Hunt's designs seem to have been completed by George H. Wyman, who supervised the construction. The building's dramatic interior has been featured in numerous films and TV shows over the decades, perhaps most notably "Blade Runner."

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, California
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles
It's possible to see the stars — of the celestial kind — at this destination that includes sweeping views of the city and the Hollywood sign, and has a planetarium to boot. It's been a draw since its 1935 opening, with a $93 million renovation/expansion completed in 2006. 

Ray and Maria Stata Center At Massachusetts Institute Of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Ray and Maria Stata Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Ray and Maria Stata Center, also known as Building 32, is a massive (720,000 square feet) academic complex designed by Frank Gehry for MIT. It opened in 2004 and is distinctive for the way it "splits" into two towers above the fourth floor. (The school ended up suing Gehry for "design and construction failures," but all was resolved).

Kresge Auditorium At Massachusetts Institute Of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Kresge Auditorium at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Another architectural treasure at MIT is Kresge Auditorium, designed by Eero Saarinen and dedicated in 1955. It was inscribed as the campus "meeting house" and is a prime example of a thin-shell concrete structure.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston
Wing Y./Yelp

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

American art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) opened the eponymous, immersive museum in 1903 in a building Willard T. Sears designed to echo a 15th-century Venetian palace. Gardner's philanthropic efforts brought artists, performers, and scholars to the site.

Faneuil Hall in Boston

Faneuil Hall

The best of both worlds? It's a rare tourist who doesn't pass through this historic site, a marketplace and meeting hall dating back to the 1740s. Now part of Boston National Historic Park, the site is a stop on the Freedom Trail.

Related: 25 Food Halls and Markets That Offer a Taste of Something for Everyone

The Old North Church & Historic Site in Boston

The Old North Church & Historic Site

Billed as "the site that launched the American Revolution," this recognizable step-back-in-time church (founded in 1723 and the oldest standing church in Boston) features the still-active church plus other activities.

1400 Smith Street in Houston
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

1400 Smith Street

It won't win any points for a creative name, but 1400 Smith Street in Houston is a Texas landmark, a 691-foot skyscraper designed by the architectural firm Lloyd Jones Brewer and Associates. The massive office tower (and former Enron headquarters) was completed in 1983.

Rienzi, The Museum Of Fine Arts in Houston
Brian D./Yelp

Rienzi, the Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is one of the nation's largest and offers more than 6,000 years of history – but the gem within the gem is Rienzi, its house museum for European decorative arts. The collection fills the one-time home of philanthropists Carroll Sterling Masterson and Harris Masterson III, which was designed by prominent local architect John Staub in 1952. It's set within 4 acres of wooded gardens some 5 miles from the main museum campus.

The Frick Building in Pittsburgh
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

The Frick Building

The recognizable Frick Building in the city's downtown was built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Notably, it was built a bit taller than the adjacent building owned by Frick's one-time business partner and rival Andrew Carnegie to put Carnegie's creation in the shadows. The Frick opened in 1902, and it is believed to have been the city's tallest at the time.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Distinctive brickwork and an unusual shape mark this 1886 church building that was one of the last designs of Henry Hobson Richardson. A National Historic Landmark, the building continues to operate today as an active parish.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, formerly Villa Vizcaya, is the one-time winter home of businessman James Deering (1859-1925). On Biscayne Bay in the Coconut Grove neighborhood, the early 20th-century property features Italian Renaissance gardens, native woodlands, and a complex of historic outbuildings. The Mediterranean Revival escape with a design directed by Paul Chalfin is today operated by Miami-Dade County.

Related: In Full Bloom: Photos of Gorgeous Botanical Gardens in All 50 States

The Miami Biltmore Hotel in Miami

The Miami Biltmore Hotel

This luxury hotel in Coral Gables was designed by Schultze & Weaver and built in 1926 as part of the Biltmore Hotel chain, at the time the tallest building in Florida at 315 feet. It has served as a hotel, World War II hospital, home to a theater group, had Johnny Weissmuller as a swimming instructor ... and is said to be haunted. It is a National Historic Landmark, as well.

Colony Hotel in Miami

Colony Hotel

Retro architecture and Ocean Drive in Miami go hand in hand. The Colony Hotel is an Art Deco treasure, designed in 1935 with a blue-hued glow that turns the South Beach night into something memorable.

Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California

Tower Bridge

Sacramento, California
It's not the Golden Gate, but the dedicated-in-1935 Tower Bridge in Sacramento is another must-see, the capital city's vertical-lift bridge spanning the Sacramento River. It's an example of Streamline Moderne architecture, earning a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park in Sacramento, California

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park

Sacramento, California
If you love Victoriana, this may be your place. A 14-year, $22 million restoration led to the reopening of this mansion as a museum, while also serving as the state's official reception center for world leaders. The 19,000-square-foot mansion features gilded mirrors, soaring ceilings, restored woodwork, 19th-century crystal and bronze light fixtures, historic paintings, and original period furnishings. Built in 1856 by Gold Rush merchant Sheldon Fogus, it was later purchased and remodeled, twice, by the Stanfords (Leland was the state's governor during the 1860s).

The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore

The Walters Art Museum

This destination has strong ties to the city's history, having started as a gift from collector and philanthropist Henry Walters of his art collection, two buildings, and an endowment, from which all has continued to grow since opening in 1934. Each of its elements evokes another facet of architectural history, from a 17th-century Italian palazzo to a 1970s Brutalist addition.

Everyman Theatre in Baltimore

Everyman Theatre

This professional theater offers "Great Stories. Well Told" — in impressive surroundings housed within a majestic 1910 façade that was once the home of The Empire vaudeville house. A storied history eventually led back to its theatrical roots, where its current resident company has operated for more than a decade.

Related: 25 Historic Movie Theaters Across America Worth Visiting

Rogers Building in Orlando, Florida
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Rogers Building

Orlando, Florida
The 132-year-old, Queen Anne-style structure — now housing an art gallery but a one-time home to cocktail-and-gaming clubs — was donated to the City of Orlando in 2018 earlier by arts benefactor Ford Kiene. The stipulation that it remain an arts and culture hub for at least 20 years ensures public access for the near future.

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom At Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida
Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom At Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort

Near Orlando, Florida
Dreams of countless little girls have been fueled by the soaring spires of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The iconic fairytale palace made its debut in 1971 and has continued to attract admirers for its ornate turrets, 189-foot height and regal royal-blue rooftops. It provides the classic backdrop, as well, for fireworks.

Related: 18 Disney Bucket List Experiences

Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina

Bank of America Corporate Center

Charlotte, North Carolina
This 871-foot skyscraper adds a distinctive touch to the Charlotte skyline, its 60 stories were the tallest in the state when it debuted in 1993 — and still are today. It was designed by Argentine architect César Pelli and HKS Architects and houses the world headquarters for Bank of America.

Hezekiah Alexander Homesite in Charlotte, North Carolina
Hezekiah Alexander Homesite in Charlotte, North Carolina

Hezekiah Alexander Homesite

Charlotte, North Carolina
As polar opposite to the Bank of America building, this Revolutionary War-era home of Hezekiah Alexander is on the grounds of the Charlotte Museum of History. The 1774 two-story stone house is the oldest surviving structure in the county and a property listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Related: The Oldest Building in Major Cities Across America

River Walk, San Antonio

River Walk

San Antonio
The San Antonio River sparked the San Antonio River Walk, the most popular destination in the city. The city park and network of walkways is actually one story beneath the streets of San Antonio.

La Villita Historic Arts Village in San Antonio

La Villita Historic Arts Village

San Antonio
Experience shopping, arts, and dining in a most historic setting at La Villita, a neighborhood first settled nearly 300 years ago in downtown San Antonio. In 1939, La Villita Historic Arts Village was established, making the landmark a center for teaching regional arts and crafts and serving as a marketplace.

The Alamo, San Antonio
Dean Fikar/shutterstock

The Alamo Mission

San Antonio
If your knowledge of the Alamo begins and ends with "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," it's time for a history lesson. Since 1906, this one-time mission now managed by the Texas General Land Office stands as a testament to the mission and fort's vital role in the Texas Revolution.

Want to see what the Alamo looks like up-close? Check out 31 Historic Places Across America That You Can Tour Virtually.

Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina
Marrero Imagery/shutterstock

Biltmore Estate

Asheville, North Carolina
At nearly 7,000 acres, this private estate and tourist attraction is anchored by the Biltmore House. George Washington Vanderbilt II commissioned New York architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the home in the Châteauesque style, completed between 1889 and 1895. It remains the largest privately owned house in the country, a stunning example of the Gilded Age opulence.

Cape Hatteras Light Station

Cape Hatteras Light Station

Outer Banks, North Carolina
A most iconic American lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Light Station protects one of the most treacherous sections of the Atlantic coastline. With its trademark black-and-white swirl, it's as famed as it is recognizable — and has been since 1803.

The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut
Dan H./Yelp

The Glass House

New Canaan, Connecticut
The 1940s Glass House was built by architect Philip Johnson as his own residence on a pastoral 49-acre landscape, now a National Trust Historic Site. The 14 structures on the property provide space for a permanent collection of art as well as contemporary exhibitions.

The Space Needle in Seattle

The Space Needle

This striking observatory is both a landmark and tourist attraction, newly reimagined to give a "wide-open" — think glass floors — experience. The Space Needle was originally built for the 1962 World's Fair.

Seattle Central Library in Seattle
Seattle Central Library in Seattle

Seattle Central Library

The flagship of the Seattle Public Library is an architectural delight, a study in angles, steel, and glass. Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA/LMN were the principal architects for the showcase opened to the public in 2004.

Brooklyn Bridge in New York

Brooklyn Bridge

New York
The picturesque connection between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn is iconic, to say the least. The hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge got its start in 1869 and was finally completed in 1883. You can walk across for a one-of-a-kind tourist experience — and glorious views of Manhattan.

Chrysler Building in New York

Chrysler Building

New York
This Art Deco skyscraper in the heart of Manhattan soars 1,046 feet into the sky. Completed in 1930, it remains the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework, an original project by real estate developer William H. Reynolds, constructed by Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corp. and a design by architect William Van Alen.

Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, New York
Andrius Kaziliunas/istockphoto

Statue of Liberty

New York Harbor, New York
Lady Liberty has been greeting those coming to New York for more than a century, having been dedicated in 1886. A gift of friendship from the people of France to America, it is recognized as a symbol of freedom and democracy, a National Monument since 1924.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

New York
If the exterior catches your eye, wait for the interior. The Guggenheim, a home to modern and contemporary art, is a cylindrical Modern delight designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1959.

Grand Central Terminal, New York

Grand Central Terminal

New York
Transportation hub, shopping and dining destination, and a beloved New York icon, this vibrant city landmark was saved by 1970s preservationists led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It celebrated its centennial in 2013. Grand Central includes a transportation museum, stunning ceiling murals — and the clock where everyone meets. 

Want to take a closer look at Grand Central? Check out A Virtual Weekend Vacation in New York.

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory At The New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York

Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at the New York Botanical Garden

Bronx, New York
From orchids to desert climes, holiday train displays to Chihuly glass, the conservatory at NYBG, founded in 1891, is an architectural wonder of a greenhouse filled with climate-controlled exhibitions all year long on a rotating basis. Visitors can savor a moment alongside the outdoor pools before wandering the expansive grounds that offer a natural respite just a quick hop from the heart of Manhattan.

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island

San Francisco Bay, California
Some architectural landmarks can have an infamous history, as is the case with Alcatraz Island offshore from San Francisco. Facilities for a lighthouse, military fortification, and most notably, prisons, Alcatraz became a part of a national recreation area in the 1970s. Today, it's open to tours that include the abandoned prison.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
Rudy Balasko/shutterstock

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco, California
Tagged by Frommer's as "the most photographed bridge in the world," the Golden Gate is a suspension bridge between San Francisco and Marin County that opened in 1937, a creation from architect Irving Morrow with engineering design by Joseph Strauss and Charles Ellis.

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island

Marble House

Newport, Rhode Island
Oh, to pick a favorite among the Gilded Age treasures that are the Newport "cottages," in reality, opulent mansions that served as summer homes for the period's ultra wealthy. We're partial to Marble House, a Vanderbilt property completed in 1892. It was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt, inspired by the Petit Trianon at Versailles. And the bonus that wins us over? The Chinese Tea House that looks out over the seaside cliffs.

Rosecliff in Newport, Rhode Island
Felix Lipov/shutterstock


Newport, Rhode Island
Okay, we couldn't choose just one ... Rosecliff — a film set for "The Great Gatsby" — was commissioned by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, a Nevada silver heiress, in 1899. She tapped star architect Stanford White, who modeled the design after the Grand Trianon at Versailles (the garden retreat of French kings). You'll see why this place has charmed — and hosted many a memorable party in its day.

Olana in Greenport/Hudson, New York
Courtesy of wikimedia.org


Greenport/Hudson, New York
The historic home billed as "Frederic Church's masterpiece" — its preservation sparked by a 1965 Life magazine feature — today stands in homage to one of the leading artists of the Hudson River School of landscape painters. An eclectic villa, an example of Orientalist architecture, is one of the few intact artist home/studio/estate complexes in the country.

Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York
Courtesy of wikimedia.org


Tarrytown, New York
A fanciful castle of sorts along the Hudson River, Lyndhurst is one of the country's finest Gothic Revival mansions. It was designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis and was home to noteworthy residents including former New York City Mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt, and railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Today, its park-like setting and year-round events and programming — its rose garden is spectacular — draw besotted visitors.

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Oak Park, IL

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

Oak Park, Illinois
Master architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent the first 20 years of his career working in the city of Chicago and its environs. Visitors can glimpse his Prairie Style in the home and studio, a tribute to a legendary architect.

Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Courtesy of wikimedia.org


Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous design, Fallingwater offers a window into the famed architect's aesthetic and approach in this residence originally designed for the Kaufmann family and opened to the public in 1964.

Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas

Kimbell Art Museum

Fort Worth, Texas
The European Old Masters on display inside are there for the exploring after savoring the Kimbell Art Museum's original building, designed by Louis I. Kahn and opened to the public in 1972. The theme was light, with a design capitalizing on natural light combined with treatments that add a "silvery fluctuating illumination for the works of art," its website says. As if that weren't enough, a Renzo Piano-designed expansion was unveiled in 2013.

Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Gateway Arch

St. Louis
Roadside attraction or national treasure? The Gateway Arch is a bit of both, catching the eye of many a motorist. It's a 630-foot monument — the world's tallest arch that's also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. A masterwork from architect Eero Saarinen, it was opened in 1965. Today, visitors continue to ride the tram to the top and admire the homage to westward expansion.

Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee

Grand Ole Opry

Nashville, Tennessee
An appearance at the Grand Ole Opry has been synonymous with success for decades of country performers. The iconic weekly show dates back to 1925, settling into its current home in 1974.

State Capitol & Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut

State Capitol & Legislative Office Building

Hartford, Connecticut
There's stately — and then there's this impressive building, a gold-domed Victorian Gothic that opened in 1878. The building housing offices and legislative chambers, and there are historic displays and guided tours.

Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, CT
Sean Pavone/shutterstock

Mark Twain House & Museum

Hartford, Connecticut
Samuel Clemens — aka Mark Twain — and his wife commissioned architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design the eye-catching home they moved into in 1874. It would prove to be a life-changing project, prompting Clemens to write: "It is a home - & the word never had so much meaning before."

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Winterthur, New Castle County, Delaware

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Winterthur, New Castle County, Delaware
This American estate and museum sit on the former home of Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969), known as both an avid antiques collector and horticulturalist. Today, it's a premier museum of American decorative arts boasting some 90,000 objects displayed within the 175-room house (much of it as it was during du Pont's time there) and in permanent and changing exhibition galleries. The gardens attract a dedicated following, as well.

Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Walker Art Center

Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Walker Art Center is as known for its cutting-edge approach as its building design. It was founded in 1879 by lumber baron Thomas Barlow Walker and established at its current site in 1927. Edward Larrabee Barnes' award-winning building opened in 1971 and was expanded in 1984. Today, it's a 17-acre campus that includes an urban sculpture garden.

Weisman Art Museum in University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Weisman Art Museum

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Frederick R. Weisman, a Minneapolis native, entrepreneur and philanthropist, provided the financial support for Frank Gehry's design along the Mississippi River. The museum's original design and expansion (completed in 2011) were both completed by Gehry. The Weisman Art Museum boasts a funky design that melds a brick structure with stainless-steel geometry.

Chihuly Bridge of Glass in Tacoma, Washington

Chihuly Bridge of Glass

Tacoma, Washington
Art, architecture ... both? The Bridge of Glass featuring work by internationally noted glass artist Dale Chihuly is a 500-foot pedestrian footbridge spanning a Tacoma highway. It was opened in 2002 as a gift to the city, connecting the Museum of Glass to downtown. Designed by Texas architect Arthur Andersson and decorated with Chihuly's work, the bridge is open 24-7, lighting up during the night. While you're there, it's also worth taking a look at the Museum of Glass, which was designed by Canadian Arthur Erickson.

Villa Zorayda Museum in St. Augustine, Florida

Villa Zorayda Museum

St. Augustine, Florida
An eight-year renovation led to the 2008 re-opening of this National Register of Historic Places site, built in 1883 as the winter residence of hardware merchant Franklin Webster Smith. If the Villa Zorayda Museum looks vaguely familiar, it's likely because it was created on a 1/10th scale of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Spain, beginning the Moorish Spanish Revival craze that took over this Florida region.

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum, Key West, Florida
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum

Key West, Florida
See how Papa really lived by touring the Old Town Key West property, built in 1851, that the famed author called home for a decade starting in 1931. There are also lush gardens — and dozens of six-toed cats (really!), said to be descendants of Hemingway's own, who now call the place home.

Fashion Show Mall in Paradise, Nevada

Fashion Show Mall

Paradise, Nevada
A must-shop destination for many visiting Las Vegas, the Fashion Show Mall opened in 1981 and houses 200-plus stores in a distinctive, almost space-age design called "The Cloud." There's also a fashion-show runway.

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in Reno, Nevada

Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts

Reno, Nevada
Opened in 1967, the Pioneer Center retains its edge with a distinctive gold, geodesic dome roof, the highlight of the design created by the architectural firm of Bozalis, Dickinson and Roloff of Oklahoma City.

Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California
Uladzik Kryhin/shutterstock

Winchester Mystery House

San Jose, California
Thanks to the movie "Winchester," there's been renewed interest in this architectural puzzle of a property. The 1884 Queen Anne Victorian mansion was once the home of Sarah Winchester, widow of firearms magnate William Wirt Winchester. It's noted for its size, its architectural quirks — and lack of master building plan. Today, it's a private home and tourist attraction.

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA

Hearst Castle

San Simeon, California
Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst's fabled estate was begun in 1919 and by 1947 had become a hilltop complex complete with a twin-towered main building, guesthouses, and more than 125 acres of terraced gardens, fountains and pools. Today, it's "A museum like no other." Tours are currently unavailable due to the pandemic.

St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska
St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska

St. Michael’s Cathedral

Sitka, Alaska
A cathedral of the Orthodox Church in America was built in the 19th century as the earliest Orthodox cathedral in the New World, when Alaska was under the control of Russia. St. Michael's came under the control of the Diocese of Alaska after 1872 and is recognized as a National Historic Landmark (honored in 1962) as an important testament to the legacy of Russian influence in North America.

Shangri La in Honolulu
Kristi A./Yelp

Shangri La

Heiress Doris Duke's Hawaiian retreat — built overlooking the ocean in 1937 — is now the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture and Design. It's a nod to her great interest, sparked by honeymoon touring of the Islamic world and one that continued throughout her life. The house was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth and opened to the public as a museum in 2002. It's currently closed due to the pandemic, but plans to open with renovations to make it safer for visitors.

David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven, Connecticut
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

David S. Ingalls Rink

New Haven, Connecticut
Score! This isn't your everyday ice rink. No, the Yale University Bulldogs host their competitors at the 1950s-built athletic building designed by architect Eero Saarinen. Talk about a pedigree — and its nickname is equally fun: "The Whale."

Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, Arizona

Wrigley Mansion

Phoenix, Arizona
This landmark was built between 1929 and 1931 — on the top of a 100-foot knoll with sweeping views — for chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. The Wrigley Mansion was designed by Los Angeles architect Earl Heitschmidt, cost $1.2 million, and combined several styles including Spanish Colonial, evidenced by extensive tilework. The mansion has reopened for tours.

Molly Brown House Museum, Denver
Ann B./Yelp

Molly Brown House Museum

The "Unsinkable" Molly Brown — of surviving the Titanic sinking fame — is celebrated in this house museum dedicated to the activist and philanthropist born Margaret Brown. The "House of Lions" — lion sculptures stand at the entrance — dates back to the 1880s when it was designed by architect William Lang who combined Classic Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque styles for the original owners, the Larges.

Cadet Chapel At The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs, Colorado
The most recognizable building at the Academy, the all-faith center of worship is also the most-visited, man-made tourist attraction in the state. Its aluminum, glass and steel structure — designed by Walter Netsch Jr. of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill — features more than a dozen spires soaring 150 feet into the sky, a testament to American academic architecture. Closed for repairs until 2023, it's still worth seeing from the outside.

'American Gothic' House in Eldon, Iowa
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

'American Gothic' House

Eldon, Iowa
It might look familiar, if you're an art lover. The "American Gothic House," an 1880s Iowa farmhouse, provided the backdrop for Grant Wood's iconic "American Gothic" painting. Today, you can create your own image out front — the adjacent visitor center provides props.

The Pontalba Buildings
The Pontalba Buildings

The Pontalba Buildings

New Orleans
The Pontalba Buildings form two sides of Jackson Square in the city's French Quarter as matching block-long buildings dating back to the 1840s. These were built by the Baroness Micaela Almonester Pontalba as Parisian-style rowhouses. The upper-floor apartments are believed to be the oldest continuously rented apartments in the country.

Oak Alley Plantation Restaurant & Inn in Vacherie, Louisiana
Zack Frank/shutterstock

Oak Alley Plantation

Vacherie, Louisiana
The history of the South comes to life at Oak Alley Plantation, exploring all its facets, from slavery to the Civil War, amid 25 historic acres and a tunnel of 300-year-old oaks.

Piazza D'Italia in New Orleans
Gerald H./Yelp

Piazza D’italia

New Orleans
Slip into an Italian interlude in the heart of New Orleans thanks to this urban public plaza. Unveiled in 1978 and designed by post-modern architect Charles Moore and Perez Architects of the city, Piazza D'Italia had a few rough years but bounced back with a restoration with results unveiled in 2004 — with another round now underway.

Robert Brewton House in Charleston, South Carolina
United States Library of Congress

Robert Brewton House

Charleston, South Carolina
This historic property, which dates back to the mid-18th century, is said to be the first example of an architectural type known as the "single house," a narrow building just one room wide.

Olson House in Cushing, Maine
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Olson House

Cushing, Maine
This 14-room Colonial farmhouse would likely not draw much attention except for the fact it was made famous through "Christina's World," an Andrew Wyeth painting. Christina and Alvaro Olson, the home's residents, actually were often depicted by Wyeth over the years. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, it's now owned by the Farnsworth Art Museum and is currently closed for renovations.

Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi
Courtesy of wikimedia.org


Natchez, Mississippi
The Oriental villa known as Longwood was designed by Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan for Haller and Julia Nutt, members of the Natchez elite. Work on the distinctive octagonal structure began in 1860 but soon stopped due to Civil War tensions. Its interior remained mostly unfinished for years earning the nickname "Nutt's Folly." It was eventually deeded to the Pilgrimage Garden Club in 1970, which maintains it today. (And yes, you did see it in HBO's "True Blood," which filmed here.)

Vaile Victorian Mansion in Independence, Missouri
Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Vaile Victorian Mansion

Independence, Missouri
This Victorian treasure was built by Col. Harvey Vaile and his wife in 1881, described the following year in the Kansas City Times as "the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west." The three-story home features more than 30 rooms, nine marble fireplaces painted ceilings and more, a noted showpiece of the Second Empire style architecture.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio, Abiquiu, NM

The Georgia O’Keeffe Home & Studio

Abiquiu, New Mexico
Owned and operated by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, this 5,000-square-foot Spanish Colonial-era adobe compound was purchased by the artist in 1945 when it was in total disrepair. She would not only spend the next four years supervising its restoration — by friend Maria Chabot — but would draw inspiration from the surroundings for years.

Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate in Huntington, New York
Marlon Trottmann/istockphoto

Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate

Huntington, New York
Also known as the Otto Kahn Estate, Oheka Castle was the North Shore Long Island country home of Kahn, an investment financier and philanthropist. The mansion, built between 1914 and 1919, is the second-largest private home in the country, with 127 rooms and more than 109,000 square feet. Today, it operates as an historic hotel and is a popular wedding venue, photo-shoot site, and film set thanks to its unwavering elegance.

Maltese Cross Cabin, Medora, ND

Maltese Cross Cabin

Medora, North Dakota
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt — a great conservationist — was shaped by time spent in North Dakota, living the life of a working cowboy in the 1880s. His days in the Badlands included the commission of a cabin made of ponderosa pine logs, where he would spend time when not in New York. Today, the home stands within Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee


Memphis, Tennessee
Sometimes, it's who lives inside that gives a home its landmark status — and that's certainly the case at Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. The singer-actor's famous mansion was designed by Memphis architectural firm Furbringer and Erhmanis as a two-story, five-bay residence in the Colonial Revival style. The King would not only live here but die here, in 1977. It opened as a museum in 1982.

City Hall in Philadelphia
Roman Babakin/istockphoto

City Hall

If you're in Center City Philly, there's no way to miss City Hall, the largest municipal building in the country and a Second Empire Style masterpiece. It was begun in 1871, taking more than 30 years to complete the design from architect John McArthur Jr., who supervised construction with the assistance of Thomas U. Walter. Of note, the first floor is built of solid granite, 22 feet thick in some parts, while the 548-foot tower is the tallest masonry structure in the world without a steel frame.

Thorncrown Chapel, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Thorncrown Chapel

Eureka Springs, Arkansas
This chapel, a wooden structure featuring some 425 windows and more than 6,000-square feet of glass, is situated on more than 100 tons of native stone. The woodland gem has hosted more than six million visitors since opening in 1980, a design by architect E. Fay Jones. Thorncrown Chapel is open daily, closing early on weekends for weddings.

This article was originally published on Cheapism

US Air Force Academy, Colorado - Sep 22, 2017: A B24 bomber model in front of the famous Cadet Chapel

More From Cheapism

Like Cheapism's content? Be sure to follow us.