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The best NYC-area day trips for architecture lovers

Some of the best architecture in the area can be found outside of New York City

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New York City is an architecture-lover's paradise, with iconic buildings from architects as diverse as Stanford White, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Marcel Breuer on seemingly every city block.

But travel outside the five boroughs and you'll find plenty of sites that boast amazing architecture of their own, whether you're a midcentury modern fanatic or into gorgeously preserved 19th-century homes. Here, you'll find nine of our favorite architecturally significant sites, all of which are easily day-trippable—i.e. within a couple of hours, and mostly accessible via public transit—from New York City.

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1. Parrish Art Museum

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279 Montauk Hwy
Watermill, NY 11976
(631) 283-2118
Visit Website

In 2012, the Parrish Art Museum moved from Southampton to Water Mill, Long Island, and got a makeover courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron. It focuses on work by Long Island artists, including Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock (whose home and studio in East Hampton is a popular art-lovers’ pilgrimage). Its understated design—two long, thin buildings with no walls, just wooden beams supporting pointed roofs—gives it the look of the world’s most elegant barn. (Pinterest, eat your heart out.)

UIG via Getty Images

2. LongHouse Reserve

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133 Hands Creek Rd
East Hampton, NY 11937

This collaboration between textile designer Jack Larsen and architect Charles Forberg was inspired by the Ise Shrine, an important Shinto site in Japan. They gave the East Hampton house a thatched upside-down-V-shaped roof, sliding interior panels, and foundation on stilts as homages to Ise, and the art exhibits in the sculpture garden are often by Eastern artists. For the full experience, wander the grounds listening to the audio tour narrated by Larsen himself. The home opens for the 2019 season on April 27, but is closed on Sundays.

3. Kykuit

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381 N Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

John D. Rockefeller chose Westchester for the site of his family’s estate, Kykuit, which is Dutch for “lookout.” The four-story Georgian main house is the primary draw, but you will also want to check out the Italian-inspired stone grotto, the orangerie modeled after the ones at Versailles, and the bomb shelter that Henry Kissinger himself spent some time in. Make a day of it by splurging for a dinner at the James Beard-lauded Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant nearby. Kykuit will reopen for the 2019 season on May 2, and closes on November 10.

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4. Manitoga

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584 NY-9D
Garrison, NY 10524

When iconic housewares designer Russel Wright built his home and studio, Manitoga, he was heavily influenced by Japanese design. The sleek buildings neatly blend into the wooded, mossy surroundings, and Wright’s minimalist aesthetic makes it easier to see the house’s bones. Be on the lookout for unusual materials (smushed paper towel rolls, Styrofoam); transitional design pieces that were intended to alternate based on the seasons (cabinet doors that were a different color on each side and flipped twice a year); and, of course, a healthy collection of Wright’s own work, including cups and pitchers in nearly every color of the rainbow. The home reopens for the season on May 10, and will remain open through November 12.

Vivian Linares

5. Boscobel

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1601 NY-9D
Garrison, NY 10524

On Mad Men, Pete Campbell’s mother was a Dyckman, and there’s a reason he could throw that name around: The Dyckmans were a prestigious early New York family—the uptown street is named in their honor. But their real jewel is Boscobel, a Federal-style house that was fixed up and relocated from Westchester to a 45-acre plot in Garrison in 1956. About one third of the house’s façade is glass, which creates a dazzling effect when the sun hits it in the afternoon. The home opens April 13, and remains open through December.

Courtesy Boscobel

6. Dia:Beacon

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3 Beekman St
Beacon, NY 12508

Housed inside a former Nabisco box factory, Dia: Beacon is a contemporary art showpiece with sprawling views of the Hudson River and easy accessibility from the city (it’s a short walk from the Beacon MetroNorth station—no driving required). Instagrammers will agree that the best experience is to walk through the monolithic Richard Serra steel sculptures, but you should also look out for pieces by Dan Flavin, Gerhard Richter, Sol LeWitt, and Louise Lawler. Get those gorgeous river shots from the grounds or from the train (coming northward from the city, make sure you’re sitting on the left).

7. Storm King Art Center

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1 Museum Rd
New Windsor, NY 12553

Going to Storm King, with its massive site-specific sculptures, will make you feel like Gulliver lost in the land of the giants. But that's precisely the idea—the striking, graphic shapes from artists like Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, and Richard Serra will make even the most jaded city dweller feel awed. Rent a bike, bring a picnic lunch, and hope your phone won't get service. Storm King is now open, and stays open through the fall.

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8. The Glass House

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199 Elm St
New Canaan, CT 06840
(203) 594-9884
Visit Website

New Yorkers are lucky to see some of pioneering 20th-century architect Philip Johnson’s work throughout the city, including the Seagram Building and Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. But his most impressive achievement was his own home—the Glass House, in New Canaan, CT. He considered the rectangular structure of glass walls supported by painted brick and steel, an “architectural essay.” It’s particularly striking on foggy days, when the house appears to materialize from thin air. Beyond the glass, the house and its 49 acres of grounds host art exhibitions—primarily sculpture or works related to architecture. Tours for the 2019 season begin May 2.

Robin Hill

9. Yale University

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1111 Chapel St
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 432-0600
Visit Website

Yale’s world-class architecture program, its proximity to New York City—and, let’s be honest, its healthy endowment—make the university a fantastic source for architecture, which you can visit without needing a student ID. The range of genres and eras manage to work together without clashing: Highlights include the Gothic-inspired residential halls, an Eero Saarinen-designed skating rink (pictured), and the Gordon Bunshaft-designed Rare Books Library, whose marble false window exteriors and stunning glass box interior (all the better for showing off a Gutenberg Bible and John Audubon’s original Birds of America) are both worth seeing. (Open year round, but some buildings are off-limits during student exams or require permission to access.)

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1. Parrish Art Museum

279 Montauk Hwy, Watermill, NY 11976
UIG via Getty Images

In 2012, the Parrish Art Museum moved from Southampton to Water Mill, Long Island, and got a makeover courtesy of Herzog & de Meuron. It focuses on work by Long Island artists, including Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock (whose home and studio in East Hampton is a popular art-lovers’ pilgrimage). Its understated design—two long, thin buildings with no walls, just wooden beams supporting pointed roofs—gives it the look of the world’s most elegant barn. (Pinterest, eat your heart out.)

279 Montauk Hwy
Watermill, NY 11976

2. LongHouse Reserve

133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton, NY 11937

This collaboration between textile designer Jack Larsen and architect Charles Forberg was inspired by the Ise Shrine, an important Shinto site in Japan. They gave the East Hampton house a thatched upside-down-V-shaped roof, sliding interior panels, and foundation on stilts as homages to Ise, and the art exhibits in the sculpture garden are often by Eastern artists. For the full experience, wander the grounds listening to the audio tour narrated by Larsen himself. The home opens for the 2019 season on April 27, but is closed on Sundays.

133 Hands Creek Rd
East Hampton, NY 11937

3. Kykuit

381 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Shutterstock

John D. Rockefeller chose Westchester for the site of his family’s estate, Kykuit, which is Dutch for “lookout.” The four-story Georgian main house is the primary draw, but you will also want to check out the Italian-inspired stone grotto, the orangerie modeled after the ones at Versailles, and the bomb shelter that Henry Kissinger himself spent some time in. Make a day of it by splurging for a dinner at the James Beard-lauded Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant nearby. Kykuit will reopen for the 2019 season on May 2, and closes on November 10.

381 N Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591

4. Manitoga

584 NY-9D, Garrison, NY 10524
Vivian Linares

When iconic housewares designer Russel Wright built his home and studio, Manitoga, he was heavily influenced by Japanese design. The sleek buildings neatly blend into the wooded, mossy surroundings, and Wright’s minimalist aesthetic makes it easier to see the house’s bones. Be on the lookout for unusual materials (smushed paper towel rolls, Styrofoam); transitional design pieces that were intended to alternate based on the seasons (cabinet doors that were a different color on each side and flipped twice a year); and, of course, a healthy collection of Wright’s own work, including cups and pitchers in nearly every color of the rainbow. The home reopens for the season on May 10, and will remain open through November 12.

584 NY-9D
Garrison, NY 10524

5. Boscobel

1601 NY-9D, Garrison, NY 10524
Courtesy Boscobel

On Mad Men, Pete Campbell’s mother was a Dyckman, and there’s a reason he could throw that name around: The Dyckmans were a prestigious early New York family—the uptown street is named in their honor. But their real jewel is Boscobel, a Federal-style house that was fixed up and relocated from Westchester to a 45-acre plot in Garrison in 1956. About one third of the house’s façade is glass, which creates a dazzling effect when the sun hits it in the afternoon. The home opens April 13, and remains open through December.

1601 NY-9D
Garrison, NY 10524

6. Dia:Beacon

3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY 12508

Housed inside a former Nabisco box factory, Dia: Beacon is a contemporary art showpiece with sprawling views of the Hudson River and easy accessibility from the city (it’s a short walk from the Beacon MetroNorth station—no driving required). Instagrammers will agree that the best experience is to walk through the monolithic Richard Serra steel sculptures, but you should also look out for pieces by Dan Flavin, Gerhard Richter, Sol LeWitt, and Louise Lawler. Get those gorgeous river shots from the grounds or from the train (coming northward from the city, make sure you’re sitting on the left).

3 Beekman St
Beacon, NY 12508

7. Storm King Art Center

1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553
Shutterstock

Going to Storm King, with its massive site-specific sculptures, will make you feel like Gulliver lost in the land of the giants. But that's precisely the idea—the striking, graphic shapes from artists like Maya Lin, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, and Richard Serra will make even the most jaded city dweller feel awed. Rent a bike, bring a picnic lunch, and hope your phone won't get service. Storm King is now open, and stays open through the fall.

1 Museum Rd
New Windsor, NY 12553

8. The Glass House

199 Elm St, New Canaan, CT 06840
Robin Hill

New Yorkers are lucky to see some of pioneering 20th-century architect Philip Johnson’s work throughout the city, including the Seagram Building and Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater. But his most impressive achievement was his own home—the Glass House, in New Canaan, CT. He considered the rectangular structure of glass walls supported by painted brick and steel, an “architectural essay.” It’s particularly striking on foggy days, when the house appears to materialize from thin air. Beyond the glass, the house and its 49 acres of grounds host art exhibitions—primarily sculpture or works related to architecture. Tours for the 2019 season begin May 2.

199 Elm St
New Canaan, CT 06840

9. Yale University

1111 Chapel St, New Haven, CT 06510

Yale’s world-class architecture program, its proximity to New York City—and, let’s be honest, its healthy endowment—make the university a fantastic source for architecture, which you can visit without needing a student ID. The range of genres and eras manage to work together without clashing: Highlights include the Gothic-inspired residential halls, an Eero Saarinen-designed skating rink (pictured), and the Gordon Bunshaft-designed Rare Books Library, whose marble false window exteriors and stunning glass box interior (all the better for showing off a Gutenberg Bible and John Audubon’s original Birds of America) are both worth seeing. (Open year round, but some buildings are off-limits during student exams or require permission to access.)

1111 Chapel St
New Haven, CT 06510