Los Angeles has its fair share of amazing architecture. But some of the best Los Angeles architecture tours focus on the incredible residential architecture of Los Angeles. Taking architecture tours is one of many fun things to do in Los Angeles, but many visitors (and locals) overlook the opportunity. Residential architecture in LA, and Southern California, in general, is unique and should be explored by anyone with an affinity for design. After all, SoCal is the birthplace of the modern ranch-style home!
There is nothing we enjoy more than taking a leisurely tour of a unique space, especially when the architecture and design are as stunning as that of some of the great homes of LA. Since moving here, we’ve enjoyed some terrific tours of one-of-a-kind homes and spaces. Check out this list of our favorite Los Angeles architecture tours!
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The Gamble House
One of the most famous grand homes of Los Angeles is the Gamble House. Touring this magnificent space gives you an up-close look at the lives of the Gamble family all while visiting an incredible arts-and-crafts mansion.
Please don't miss this Greene and Greene masterpiece! Everywhere you look in this home you'll find creative uses of space and excellent examples of the arts-and-crafts movement. The home is decorated with period furniture, some of which is original and unique to the home.
The grounds are just as spectacular, so give yourself plenty of time to amble around before or after your tour. The garage-turned-gift shop is a great touch! This docent-led tour is one of the best Los Angeles architecture tours available.
The Hollyhock House
The Hollyhock House is a cultural work of art and probably the best-known of the great homes of Los Angeles. Situated high above LA in the Barnsdall Art Park, the Hollyhock House offers sweeping vistas and natural living like only Frank Lloyd Wright could envision.
Being up-close and personal with one of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpieces is an incredible experience, making this Los Angeles architecture tour worth the $7 price tag. And the Hollyhock House is especially unique, as it incorporates the outdoor space (and view!) in a way that Frank Lloyd Wright perfected in his time. The indoor “river” element in the main living space is a must-see!
While the home itself is the main attraction, the décor and furniture add depth and dimension. The home is decorated with a mixture of period and one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, some of which Frank Lloyd Wright designed himself. Public and private tours of the Hollyhock House are available through the Barnsdale Arts Park.
The Schindler House
Nestled in bustling West Hollywood, the Schindler House is another marvel of early advances in residential architecture. It stands out as one of the great homes of Los Angeles, primarily because it's so well-hidden. Many people are unaware of the well-preserved structure located in the heart of residential WeHo. But this beauty deserves your attention. One walk through this sparsely decorated property, and you’ll see why.
Many people are unaware of the well-preserved structure located in the heart of residential WeHo. It's by far the most hidden of the Los Angeles architecture tours. But this beauty deserves your attention. One walk through this sparsely decorated property, and you’ll see why.
Walking through the Schindler House transports you to another dimension: the artist's dimension. Designed to be a communal space, the home offers a unique perspective on California living in the early 20th century. The design was intended to marry indoor and outdoor living. The details of the architecture are simple, yet provocative. The sleeping baskets might even have you reconsidering your current sleeping arrangements.
The design was intended to marry indoor and outdoor living. The details of the architecture are simple, yet provocative. The sleeping baskets might even have you reconsidering your current sleeping arrangements. Public tours of the Schindler House are available through the Mak Center.
Pasadena Heritage Tours
Pasadena Heritage is an organization on a mission! This nonprofit offers multiple architecture tours and events throughout the year featuring many great homes of Los Angeles. Their mission is to preserve this history and heritage of Pasadena's architecture for generations to come.
Although the tours can be a bit pricey, they are well worth the time and money. Many of the homes highlighted in the seasonal tours are private residences and are not usually open to tours. Some of my favorites have been the Hamlin House, the Dorland House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son!), and Harold Zook’s personal residence.
Seeing the interior of some of these incredible residences makes these Los Angeles architecture tours worth your money and your Sunday afternoon.
Some of greatest Mid-Century Modern homes in Los Angeles are in the SoCal Eichler Network. These babies are well worth the drive, even for visitors.
These tract homes offer a unique perspective on urban planning and the use of architecture. Although each home in the tract is unique, the collective impression is, well, impressive.
Known for the use atriums and sleek lines, the homes of real-estate developer Joseph Eichler are not to be missed. More importantly, his views on fair housing were ground-breaking. Be sure to check out the tracts in Granada Hills, Orange and Thousand Oaks.
“the liberal Eichler was the first large, tract builder to sell to minorities, and even built a home on his own lot for an NAACP leader” - The Eichler Network
No interior tours exist to my knowledge, but the tract homes can be viewed byonly driving (or walking) through the neighborhoods where they're located. For more information on the Eichler homes, check out the Eichler Network.
The community of Pasadena offers many examples of period architecture, but none as notable as the Arts & Crafts homes of Bungalow Heaven. These 16 city blocks are an Arts & Crafts lover’s dream.
Many of these streets and homes were featured in film and television, but none as famous as Bushnell Avenue, also known as the Back to the Future street. Head over to Visit Pasadena for a printable map of Pasadena’s architecture-rich districts, including Bungalow Heaven.
These private residences are not usually available for touring, but keep an eye on the Pasadena Heritage tours in case any of the homeowners decides to participate in an upcoming tour.
Another must-see in the South Bay is the tract of homes known Rancho Estates. Designed by Cliff May in the early 50s, this collection of ranch-style homes offers a glimpse into the Southern California designer’s vision of “postwar suburbia.”
Like Eichler, May made an effort to synthesize indoor and outdoor living, creating usable space where homeowners could enjoy the mild climate of SoCal. Go see for yourself why May is called the “inventor of the modern ranch house.
While there is no actual tour, anyone interested in Los Angeles architecture tours shouldn't pass up the opportunity to walk the Rancho Estates neighborhood. Although you can't see inside the homes, you get a feel for the design and concept Mays had in mind when creating the community.
Want More LA Architecture?
There truly are so many great homes of Los Angeles. This list barely scratches the surface of the abundant architecture on display in SoCal. Be sure to head over to peek my post on finding things to do in LA for more sources on architecture in LA!
For more great ideas on Los Angeles architecture tours, check out the following tour:
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