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The Great Middle California Design Road Trip

From San Jose to the desert, there's so much incredible design to see in California! Check out these awesome examples of architectural design of all styles, and stay entertained and connected the whole way with Volvo and Sensus Connect.


1. In San Jose, your first stop is The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

MIchael Gray / (CC BY http://SA-2.0) / Flickr: kathika

The building itself was inspired by Temple of Amon at Karnak, and the museum contains the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the country.

2. Stop nearby at the mystifying Winchester Mystery House.

San José Library/ (CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: sanjoselibrary
WireImage / Getty Images
WireImage / Getty Images

The oversized mansion is said to be a maze of dozens of rooms and is possibly haunted. Enter at your own risk!

3. Continue on to San Simeon to visit the stunning Hearst Castle.

Ed Bierman / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: edbierman
Joseph Kranak / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: 94215313@N00

The Hearst Castle was built in the middle of last century and is comprised of "165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways." Whoa.

4. Go forth to Cambria Pines to see the folk-art wonder that is Nitt Witt Ridge.

Ed Bierman / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: edbierman

In contrast to the above luxurious castle, the Nitt Witt Ridge is said to have been built exclusively with a pick and shovel... and a few beer cans.

5. Before heading to L.A., stop by San Luis Obispo to visit the wonderfully kitschy Madonna Inn.

othree / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: othree
Othree / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: othree
Anders Blomqvist / Getty Images

With room names like "Barrel of Fun," "Everything Nice," and "Krazy Dazy," you might even have to spend the night.


6. Start off at the Griffith Observatory.


Built in the 1930s, the structure itself is a great example of both art deco architecture and Spanish influence in the area.

7. Swing by the L.A. County Museum of Art.

Sarah Ackerman / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: sackerman519

Not only is the LACMA building itself an interesting mid-century structure, but the installations surrounding it, like the above "Urban Light" by Chris Burden, are worth the detour.

8. And continue on to Frank Gehry's spectacular Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Graham / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: 44461337@N06

The stainless steel structure was completed in 2003. The shape of the iconic building was designed to resemble a ship's sails.

9. Continue to Downtown Los Angeles to take in its beautiful art deco buildings.

Derek Springer / (CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: dbspringer
Derek Springer / (CC By http://2.0)
J Neuberger / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: 54943750@N00

The Eastern Columbia Building on South Broadway and other surrounding buildings are a stunning example of the opulent design of the late 1920s and '30s.

10. And on the way out of town, take in the Watts Towers.


The large steel and found object installation is an impressive piece of American outsider art.


11. Head to Pasadena to visit The Gamble House.

kirsten / (CC BY-SA http://2.0) / Via Flickr: miz_curse_10
Rictor and David Allen / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: rictor-and-david
Rictor and David Allen / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: rictor-and-david

12. From there, go on to Garden Grove to take in the massive Crystal Cathedral.

youarelee / (CC BY SA http://2.0) / Flickr: youarelee
Tracie Hall / (CC BY http://2.0) / Flickr: twobears2

Modern day churches don't usually garner much attention, but this one is worth noting due to its impressive size and intricacy. Its 16,000-pipe organ is currently undergoing an incredible two-year renovation.

13. Continue South to San Diego to see the futuristic Geisel Library at UCSD.

O Palsson / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: opalsson

14. And if you're feeling like really hitting the open road, drive a few hours east to Salvation Mountain in Niland.

avidd / (CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: avidd

Sure, it's a liiittle out of the way, but this enormous, colorful art installation, all hand-painted by the late Leonard Knight, is unlike anything else in the world.

And with so many interesting locations on the road ahead, get there surrounded by the comfort of all the apps and amenities you love in a Volvo.

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