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. Today, the spot in the Loop draws hundreds of thousands of visitors for both its beauty — including two stunning stained-glass domes, one by Tiffany — and its free events.
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. 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
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.
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
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 orchestra will mark its new season by projecting imagery from artist Refik Anadol onto the hall's exterior Sept. 28-Oct. 6.
THE STAHL HOUSE
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 and is open for tours.
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."
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
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
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
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, which continues to draw visitors today.
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, where you can buy anything from a snack to a commemorative "Cheers" T-shirt.
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 tourist-friendly activities.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
This always-free 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.
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.
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 earlier this year 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
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.
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
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.
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
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 MISSION
If your knowledge of the Alamo begins and ends with "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure," it's time for a revisit. 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 defending freedom.
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
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
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. Tours start at the visitor center in town, so plan to shop the charming boutiques before or after your visit.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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. Keep moving or risk being jostled by the commuters.
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. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 a steady tourist stream.
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. (While its elevator undergoes modernization, visitors can view it from outside until spring).
THE WHITE HOUSE
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
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
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.
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. Glimpse his Prairie Style through a tour of the home and studio, a tribute to a legendary architect.
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
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.
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
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. Catch a show — or take the backstage tour for even more insight.
STATE CAPITOL & LEGISLATIVE OFFICE BUILDING
There's stately — and then there's this impressive building, a gold-domed Victorian Gothic that opened in 1878. In addition to housing offices and legislative chambers, there are historic displays and guided tours.
MARK TWAIN HOUSE & MUSEUM
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
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
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
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
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, it's open 24-7, lighting up during the night.
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
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 cats (really!), said to be descendants of Hemingway's own, who now call the place home.
PIONEER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
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
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.
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."
ST. MICHAEL'S CATHEDRAL
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.
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.
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."
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. Today, it's a special-events venue but remains open for tours.
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
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.
'AMERICAN GOTHIC' HOUSE
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 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
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.
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
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.
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 open for tours.
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
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, 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
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. Tours of the estate and gardens are available.
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, open for tours.
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.
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.
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.