Best North American city for design holiday.

If one had only 10 days vacation in March or April, what city in North America would be best to explore design, architecture, night life and stylish urban shopping. And why?

Thanks in advance…


boston or chicago

cant type too much right now

I’m trying to convince my travelling companion that the warmer cities do not offer as much to see in design/architecture as CHI, NY etc, especially if you are trying to get in as much as possible in a very short time.

Of course, she is hoping that I might be convinced there is enough to see/do in one of the cities more south.

I’d be happy to hear from both visitors and residents to these places. Favourite buildings, museums, design stores… you name it. If there is a favourite artist colony, mention it.

I design for a living (easy guess) and she is an architect’s exec asst so anything cool, urban and creative will keep us entertained.

If you are gonna tout the natural vistas… bear in mind we live in Vancouver and are really trying to get away from scenery for a few days. Okay, maybe not some urban wasteland, but I think you get the picture…


NY is it. I don’t need to tell you why, you already know. SF is probably second place, and not particularly cold. Chicago’s pretty good too.

If you have to go south, Atlanta is OK, and there’s some cool stuff in LA in between the sea of strip malls and freeways. There are other cool smaller cities, but you would be done with them from a design and architecture standpoint in 2-3 days.

For architecture, I say Chicago. For overall ( design related, lifestyle, museums and architecture), I prefer NYC.

Check out Vancouver if you have never been. It is a pretty incredible place. Shopping is pretty good (not really on the same level as NYC or Chicago- but still good), there is some really neat architecture, the landscape is breathtaking, etc. etc.

Vancouver, great suggestion. I wonder if he’s ever been?


Joined: 23 Aug 2004
Posts: 283
Location: Vancouver, Canada


Yeah, I have been- but apparently you would know it better than I :slight_smile:

How about Minneapolis.

New Walker.
New Guthrie.
Great Shopping.

NYC all the way, best nightlife, best shops hands down. Architecture is not cutting edge, however there are many amazing interior spaces to inspire you. It is an expensive city, so beware.

Toronto has a good design scene if you are looking for a good exchage rate and a trip up north.

How about Minneapolis.

It is nice here. And in March or April we’re just about ready to unthaw from Arctic Tundra! Although, I would say shopping is mediocre, but the people are friendly.

Here’s the deal:

For cities with lotsa art, nightlife, architecture, and shopping that also has public transportation, it really comes down to NYC, SF, or Chicago.

NY and Chicago are both OK weather in April (snow is usually gone)

Boston has research libraries (i.e. MIT bookstore), nightlife, and public transport, but doesn’t have the museum and gallery presence. (I live in Boston, and go to NY for this stuff.)

In NY, Chicago, and SF, there will be too much to do and not enough time to do them. The smaller cities you will be tapped out in 2-3 days. Hence a driving holiday for all the southern cities.

If you want warm and truly bizarre, go to Las Vegas.

(commence flaming)

2 San Francisco
3 Montreal
4 Chicago
5 Boston
6 Los Angeles [I agree with a previous post about too many strip malls and such, but as a newbie to LA I continue to keep finding some great architecture, design shops, and quirky random sites]
7 Mexico City!!!
8 The North West cities of Seattle, Portland and Vancouver in the North


I have heard great things about:
Vancouver, Pittsburgh,

Interesting. All the usual suspects. How about the unusual? Or do the stereotypes apply?

Ok… I have yet to hear from the people who live in the cities not normally known for their design and architecture. What about St. Louis, or Dallas, or Denver, Charleston, Tulsa?


Chicago for the architecture–including the new Millenium Park.

Make sure to take the famous riverboat architecture tour.

Mayor Richard Daley was even named “Master of Design” this year by Fast Company.

SF will give you an impressive idea of how to build to make smaller spaces feel larger. Large scale arch. is better represented in Chicago than anywhere else in the world (arguably). The design world is extremely well represented in NY, as is any other artistic community. LA has some interesting whatnot, but the big take home from LA is a concise lesson in how to design a city that maximizes traffic, smog, concrete, seperation of economic groups (and the resulting criminal problems that result), while minimizing social centers and mobility. Note that LAites are not the masters of concrete – going to have to head to russia or former soviet block countries to really appreciate how to push the concrete envelope – but they are rather fond of the stuff.

Other good places to study archiceture:

– Salt Lake City. Visit here to learn how to design a city that instills an overwhelming desire to leave.

– San Diego. Marvel at how, with the proper city planning, the cost of living can shoot way beyond the influx of valuable industry and business, and for that matter, common sense.

– Monterrey, CA. What happens to architecture when cost is not an object? Curvy ceelings.

– Belmont, CA (in LA). Try to notice the beautiful people and creative designs while running away from the security guards.

– Baker, CA. Make sure to see the ‘worlds largest thermometer’. Try not to be irritated that its actually just a digital thermometer on a tall pole.

– Mexico City. Momentarily remove your breathing apparatus to notice beautiful and unique archicetural designs.

Outstanding talent calls home.

I would really consider Menomonie, WI.

Great night life. OB, The Flame, and the Den.
Outstanding Shopping. The local Walmart is open 24 hours a day.
Museums. Try the Student Gallery.

Go Blue Devils!

Seriously you guys: if you only had ONE US city to go to?

NYC, come on. This is not even a question.


the Gueg.
Cooper Hewitt


Chrysler Building
Empire State
Brooklyn brownstoans
Flat Iron
Grand Central


I prefer the SoHo Grand, others prefer the W


Flight 001
Endless others


Meatpacking District

If you want to go somewhere warm, the only city I would go to would be Miami!


Deco district


I prefer the Shore Club because its beach is sweet (topless), and it has a great club called The Red Room right in it. I’ve also stayed at the Sagamore which is a little cheaper (last time I was there Puffy was filming a video in the lobby… its a cool place) and the Delano is very posh.

Tons of shopping, clubs, beautiful people, and Lamborghinis seemingly on every corner.

I love Chicago… and Vancouver, and SF, but I would recomend NYC or Miami… def not Boston, c’mon people. The socks blow.

While LA is spread out over a large area, it does have a huge amount of interesting stuff…beyond disneyland and hollywood…The case study houses, great modern architecture/postmodern architecture, the disney opera hall, etc.

Miami is experiencing a huge boom in high end architecture at the moment. It has good food, great night life and beaches.

March/April in SF is not the best time to come. That said, it’s always really beautiful. September/october/first half of November are the best time to be here.

Good luck.

For architecture the older cities hold the cards… these cities all have distinct urban feels in no particular order:

  1. NYC
  2. Boston
  3. Chicago
  4. San Fran
  5. Seattle [but comming from BC you probably don’t want this]
  6. Portland, Or [see above 5]
  7. New Orleans WAS a great architecture and nighlife place
  8. South Beach/Miami beach = killer architecture and nightlife
    9 Austin… not so hot for architecture but check out The best, most worldly nightlife will be there in March. And much to everyones dismay… it is right in NYC’s ballpark for nightlife - ask the guys who run core from NYC :slight_smile:
  9. Las Vegas… nightlife and supersized, gimmicky architecture

Think about the weather that time of year too… NYC, Boston and Chicago will still be gray and damp. Miami, Nawlins, Las Vegas and Austin will all be nice.