Travel season is in full swing across the country, which means your Instagram feeds are filling up with epic photos and creative new hashtags. And while winter might be the season for hygge-inspired fires and cozy restaurants, summer is the time to get outside and show off our cities in the best way possible: with square crops and filters.
In honor of Curbed’s first-annual Play Week, we looked to our network of city editors to find out where they head for feed-worthy photos. Sure, New York City’s Times Square or the Brooklyn Bridge in San Francisco may be some of the most Instagrammed locations in the country, but that doesn’t mean they are the best. Instead, our experts chose colorful murals, painted stairs, and picturesque bridges as their favorite outdoorsy Instagram spots.
Some are well-known buildings where you can still get a good photo despite the tourists, while other choices are lesser known gems sure to impress your local friends. All 16 of our picks are Instagram-worthy photo spots to add to your travel bucketlist.
Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta
Curbed Atlanta says, “This bar and restaurant strip in Old Fourth Ward and Sweet Auburn—just a block from the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr.—is, in many ways, a microcosm of real Atlanta culture. With Killer Mike’s barber shop, The Swag Shop, and music venues that host some of the city’s and nation’s hottest acts, plus the world-renowned oddity that is Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, the street offers myriad opportunities to earn a selfie with a major actor, musician, or photogenic lunatic.” See 10 other Instagram hot spots in Atlanta, over here.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery in Austin
From Curbed Austin: “More colloquially known as the Castle Hill graffiti park, the Clarksville plot where street artists of all kinds were encouraged to cover retaining walls and other concrete debris with their work—and then do it again—has become a must-see for visitors in its six years. Due to inevitable development in its extremely popular area, it will be relocating to Carson Creek next year, but that still leaves time for plenty of visits and ‘grams.” Check out a map of nine more photogenic locations.
Acorn Street in Boston
You’ve probably seen this top-notch street in your Instagram feed. Curbed Boston reports, “This one is bucket-list as far as Instagram. Acorn has been called the most beautiful street in America, what with its narrowness, its cobblestone, and its federal townhouses lining either side.” See 19 other Instagrammable locations in Boston, right this way.
The Franklin Street Bridge in Chicago
Forgot tourist traps like The Bean, Curbed Chicago says the Franklin Street Bridge is where it’s at. “From here if you look east on the river, you’ll see the Wells Street bridge, the Brown Line train, the well-known Marina Towers, historic Carbide & Carbon building (now the St. Jane hotel), and the red brick Reid, Murdoch & Co. building. With so many Chicago hallmarks in one view, it’d be hard to find a better city shot.” See more Windy City photo locations, over here.
Eastern Market in Detroit
One of Curbed Detroit’s top picks, “Between the flowers, the food, the people, the buildings, the shops, and the murals, there’s always an opportunity for the perfect snap at Detroit’s historic Eastern Market. Wander through the crowds on a Saturday, or choose a quiet weekday afternoon to bike around the district.” See 10 other swoonworthy Instagram hot spots, over here.
The Montauk Lighthouse in the Hamptons
From Curbed Hamptons: “We started at the Shinnecock Canal and moved all the way east to the Montauk Lighthouse, all to give our readers the best outdoor places to go before hitting “share” on that weekend compilation post on Instagram.” We’ve mapped 13 other Instagram destinations, too.
Urban Light and LACMA in Los Angeles
It’s hard to pick just one top-spot from a city like Los Angeles, especially because it ranks among the most Instagrammed cities in the world. But Curbed LA says, “If you didn’t ’gram from Urban Light, did you even spend time in Los Angeles? A perennial Instagram favorite since it opened in 2008, the installation of 202 historic street lamps is located outside of the museum’s entrance on Wilshire Boulevard, and it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo of it.
The museum has plenty of other photogenic spots, too, from Levitated Mass to the zig-zag roofline of the Renzo Piano-designed Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion to the palm trees to the soon-to-be-demolished modernist buildings designed by William Pereira.”
Curbed LA has a whole slew of other amazing spots to photograph, here.
Washington Street in Brooklyn
Curbed New York knows that “New York City has endless options when it comes to Instagram-worthy locations, thanks to its proliferation of architectural gems and its history as a street-art haven. But the most frequently Instagrammed spots (Times Square, the Statue of Liberty) are also, unsurprisingly, tourist havens—so where do you go for a good ‘gram that isn’t overrun with people?”
Try Washington Street in Brooklyn. “This picture-perfect street in Brooklyn is one of the borough’s most Instagrammed spots, and for good reason. The intersection of Washington and Front streets frames the Manhattan Bridge perfectly, and it’s almost impossible to walk away with a bad shot of this stunning streetscape.”
Need more Instagrammable spots? This helpful map shows the 13 best.
The Fountain Street Steps in Philadelphia
The LOVE sculpture may be iconic, but for our money we think the Fountain Street Steps in Philadelphia are prettier. From Curbed Philly: “Tucked in at Umbria and Fountain streets are these gorgeous, mural-clad steps. They’re almost hidden from the public eye—you walk down the steps and see nothing, but turn around? There’s a huge mural, reminiscent of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The mural was dedicated in 2015 and is worth a photo. Sit on the steps with a coffee, sprawl across them, or simply walk down. There are a million ways to pose on the vibrant space.” See nine other options, over here.
Lilac Alley in San Francisco
Curbed San Francisco knows all about the most frequently Instagrammed spots in the city, but most of them are overrun by tourists. To find a good shot that’s not overrun, try Lilac Alley. “While Clarion Alley draws a large, more tourist-filled crowd—the small stretch of street between Valencia and Mission is also a stop on several walking tours—the lesser known Lilac Alley boasts some the greatest street art in the city.” More under-the-radar, feed-worthy spots can be found over here.
Freeway Park Fountain in Seattle
Yes, we love the gum wall as much as anyone, but head to Freeway Park Fountain if you’re looking for something more unique. Says Curbed Seattle, “A fountain at the south edge of Lawrence Halprin-designed Freeway Park is a dynamic, brutalist mountain—popular amongst parkour enthusiasts and engagement photographers alike. It also makes a fantastic backdrop to any Instagram portrait.” And we’ve got 14 other top Instagram spots, mapped.
The Seventh Ward in New Orleans
Sure, you could just head to the French Quarter or Cafe du Monde and snap the same photos as everyone else visiting the Big Easy. But why don’t you take a different approach and head to the Seventh Ward. Says Curbed New Orleans, “One of New Orleans’s most bikeable neighborhoods joins the French Quarter as one of the most geotagged districts in the city. Bounded by Esplanade and St. Bernard avenues, this part of New Orleans holds several Creole cottages and shotguns. It’s also home to Bayou Road, one of our favorite corridors to take a stroll in the city.”
Wynwood Walls in Miami
Miami has no shortage of epic photo spots—why hello there, art deco—but one of the most colorful outdoor stopovers is Wynwood Walls. An array of ever-changing graffiti murals are a verifiable outdoor street museum, and you’ll have a hard time deciding which art piece to choose as your backdrop.
Union Station in Denver
Mountains, cityscapes, and jaw-dropping sunsets, Denver has it all when it comes to photo-worthy settings. And while you can’t beat the view from City Park, head to the newly revamped Union Station in Lower Downtown for the perfect shot. The historic train station’s marquee and fountains make for a fun group shot during the day, but really look cool at night when the building lights up.
Sabine Promenade in Houston
This award-winning park—completed in 2006—located below Houston’s I-45 features bike and pedestrian pathways landscaped by architects from the SWA Group, a large firm founded in the 1950s by Hideo Sasaki and Peter Walker.
The half-mile stretch below the highway uses nighttime lighting that changes from white to blue depending on the phases of the moon, provides access to the Buffalo Bayou, and boasts what some have called an “unintentional sculpture park” made up of the highway’s underpinnings. Don’t miss the Sabine Street Bridge that provides great views of the city.
The Salk Institute of Biological Studies in San Diego
This functioning research facility is widely considered to be the consummate work of celebrated midcentury architect Louis I. Kahn, so it makes sense that it’s also a damn fine Instagram spot.
Symmetrical raw concrete rises four stories from a travertine plaza, and the dramatic setting means that you really can’t take a bad photo.