AAA The Extra Mile. August 2023.

If you are looking to capture epic photos to fill your Instagram grid, head to some of these popular U.S. cities and towns to view amazing architecture preserved over hundreds of years. From historic homes to stunning skylines, colorful murals to restored buildings, you can enjoy an outdoor gallery away from the crowds.

Loretto ChapelLoretto Chapel; Photo by Chase McBride/

Surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and forests, adobe brick buildings in beautiful earth tones are distinctive of Santa Fe’s architecture. Stroll through the meandering streets around downtown to discover Pueblo, Greek Revival, Victorian Italianate, California Mission Revival, modern, and contemporary designs. With colorful doors, vibrant murals, and artistic accents, these Instagram-worthy spots offer you some stunning photos or backgrounds.

To learn more about the preserved buildings, visit the Historic Santa Fe Foundation or sign up for a private tour with one of their knowledgeable conservationists.

Davenport HouseThe Isaiah Davenport House built in 1820; Photo by seliveoak/

This charming coastal city has a wide range of architectural styles, including distinctive houses on streets that are shaded by oak trees adorned with Spanish moss. You can walk through the 22 public squares or visit the Davenport House to see Federal- and Adam-style architecture. You can also see a Georgian-style design at the Olde Pink House restaurant, and Greek Revival architecture at the First Baptist Church in Savannah’s Historic District.

To explore the different architectural styles and learn about the city’s vibrant history, take a guided walking tour with local author, Jonathan Stalcup.

A streetscape in Carmel by the SeaA streetscape in Carmel-by-the-Sea featuring cottage style architecture; Photo by S Greg Panosian 

A romantic European-style village is the perfect place for architecture aficionados who enjoy fairy-tale houses and art galleries. From historic stone cottages to stately Mediterranean-style estates, you’ll discover a wide variety of architectural designs that make this town Instagram-worthy.

Make sure to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Della Walker House and Bernard Maybeck’s Harrison Memorial Library, plus the historic Tor House and Hawk Tower. Discover the hidden passageways and delightful courtyards around town with historian and naturalist Gael Gallagher, who operates the Carmel History Walk.

Ferns in the French Quarter.Ferns hanging on building in the French Quarter; Photo by Rosie Kerr/

NOLA is the birthplace of the iconic Creole and French Colonial architecture that melds French, Spanish and Caribbean influences. The city is home to over 20 districts on the National Register of Historic Places, 19 historic districts, and many landmark structures. Drive, walk, or bike through this famed city to find incredible architecture and multicultural heritage at every corner.

In addition to the iconic French Quarter, the opulent 19-block Garden District is a great area to see distinct 19th-century mansions, impeccable gardens, and enchanting historic homes.

Villa Zorayda MuseumThe Villa Zorayda Museum; Photo by Jonbilous/

The oldest city in America, St. Augustine is home to 16th-century, Spanish-style houses and the massive Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Be sure to visit the Villa Zorayda Museum, an exquisite example of Moorish Spanish Revival architecture. You’ll also find Spanish and Mediterranean styles as well as Victorian buildings.

To capture the rich history of the city and hear stories of early settlers, embark on a St. Augustine Historic Photo Tour, led by photographer Patricia Bean. She shares her favorite compositions and sets you up for the perfect shots for your Instagram posts.

San Antonio River WalkTour boat ride on the San Antonio River Walk; Photo by benedek/

Notable architecture at the missions, cathedrals, and plazas reflect San Antonio’s Spanish and Mexican roots. While you can see stately 19th- and 20th-century mansions lining the King William District, you can also check out the many repurposed buildings that are modern-day architectural marvels.

Visit the San Antonio Art Museum and Hotel Emma (both former breweries), and Drury Plaza Hotel (a 1929 bank). The best ways to explore San Antonio’s beautiful architecture is aboard a river tour on the famed San Antonio River Walk or on an exhilarating ride in San Antonio Sidecars.

~ Written for & published by AAA The Extra Mile. All rights reserved.

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