From the colorful Victorian homes lining San Francisco streets to Santa Barbara’s signature red-tiled roofs to awe-inspiring art deco structures in Los Angeles, California’s architectural mix is fascinating and diverse.
The Golden State is home to countless structural wonders from famed architects. Head to L.A. to see the swooping stainless steel construction of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, soak in the peaceful white travertine of Richard Meier’s Getty Center, and marvel at the delicate honeycomb of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s The Broad. In San Diego, the Salk Institute by Louis Khan stuns with elegant lines of teak and concrete perched above the Pacific. Julia Morgan’s Hearst Castle in San Simeon embodies over-the-top opulence in Mediterranean Revival style.
Following 130 years of Spanish rule beginning in 1697, Europe’s architectural imprint remains intact in the Golden State. Witness the 21 locales on California’s Mission Trail to see the signature terraced bell towers and arched corridors. The enduring legacy of Alta California is also on display in the grand Mission Inn in Riverside, the largest Mission Revival structure in the country, as well as the Spanish Colonial Revival–style Santa Barbara County Courthouse and the California Tower in San Diego’s Balboa Park.
Visit other pockets of the state to admire classic California styles. In Gold Country, see countless buildings constructed in the boomtown style during the Gold Rush, including properties in Sacramento, Columbia, and Bodie. Joseph Eichler, a modernism pioneer, left a legacy by way of hundreds of glass-walled Eichler homes, largely concentrated in the Bay Area. On the Central Coast, Carmel is famous for its fairytale-esque Comstock cottages, and you can see stunning mid-century modern buildings throughout Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and the hills of Orange County.