Fun in the Sun: Five Vacation Destinations for Design Enthusiasts

A lot of people likely already have their summer vacations planned out.  But some of you out there may be scrambling to decide where to go during your time off.  With so many beautiful places to choose from it can be difficult to narrow it down.  We decided to provide some design-centric vacation options you may not have considered.  Here are five vacation worthy locations for those who want to see more than just surf and sand.


Palm Springs, California – Mid-century Modern Architecture



Palm Springs is home to the largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the United States.  Iconic California modernists like John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey all built some of their best-known works in Palm Springs and helped shape the image of the 1950s and ‘60s Southern Californian lifestyle.  If you go during February or October you can catch Modernism Week or the Fall Preview.  Modernism week celebrates mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture with more than 250 events.  Modernism Week also raises money for architecture and design scholarships, as well as preservation organizations.  If you can’t make it to Palm Springs for Modernism week you can still enjoy self-guided tours of all the mid-century design hot spots.




Seville, Spain – Metropol Parasol


Designed by Jurgen Mayer H. Architects the Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain is the world’s largest wooden structure.  Rising from concrete bases that form canopies and walkways below, the undulating parasols are composed of interlocking honeycombs of bonded timber panels with a polyurethane coating.  Completed in 2011 the Metropol Parasol houses a museum, a farmers market, an elevated plaza, and a restaurant, most of which are open-air.  Elevated rooftop promenades located on top of the parasols offer visitors amazing views of the Medieval portion of the city.



Xilitla, Central Mexico – Las Pozas Sculpture Garden



If you’re a fan of surrealism you’ll want to make your way to the Las Pozas Sculpture Garden in Central Mexico.  Las Pozas was originally the fantastical home of the eccentric British writer Edward James, who was a big supporter and collector of Surrealist art.  Designed as his version of the Garden of Eden, James created the concrete sculptures after a blizzard destroyed the horticulture he’d been focusing on to instead create a perpetual garden.  Moving between fantasy and reality the garden features columns with capitals that look like giant flowers, Gothic arches, dramatic gates, pavilions with undetermined levels and spiral staircases that end abruptly in mid-air.  Las Pozas became open to the the public in 1991, seven years after James’ death.




Detroit, Michigan – Belle Isle Park


A 2 ½ mile-long, 982 acre island park, Belle Isle is located in the international waters of the Detroit River and was designed to be an urban oasis in Detroit.  The park features a number of historic landmarks including the Belle Isle Aquarium, Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the James Scott Memorial Fountain.  The design of Belle Isle was influenced by the work of Frederick Law Olmsted, a leading landscape architect of the post-Civil War generation known for designing many of the country’s premiere parks, including Central Park in New York City.  Opened in 1904, the Belle Isle Aquarium is the oldest aquarium in the country and was designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn.  While there have been renovations to keep up with more modern aquarium technology, the building retains its original Beaux Arts style.




Kowloon Park, Hong Kong – Avenue of Comic Stars


For those that are young at heart, or perhaps traveling with young ones, the Avenue of Comic Stars in Hong Kong will add some whimsy to your vacation.  Opened in September, 2012 the Avenue of Comic Stars is a 100-meter long street with figures of well-known local comic characters on either side.  Next to each figure is the hand-print of its artist in bronze.  Even if you are unfamiliar with the characters themselves it’s still fun to see the different figures and their different styles.  Besides the figures and hand-prints visitors can learn more about the production process, manuscripts, and the history of Hong Kong’s comics at the Gallery of Comic Education.




This is just a taste of some of the design-focused vacations you could take.  So go explore and find the vacation destination of your dreams!