ELLE’s 30 Places To Instagram in 2021

Life & Love

Over the last year, our worlds became small. Instead of planning an exotic escape to Iceland or plotting stops on a cross-country road trip, our travels were limited to walks around the neighborhood—or just from our couch to the kitchen. But as our lives open back up, all we want to do is cash in all that pent-up wanderlust and hit the road.

We wanted to capture that energy in this year’s edition of 30 Places to Instagram—we sorted through dozens of locales to bring you the best of the best resorts, restaurants, getaways, art exhibits, and more that deserve a coveted spot on your grid. These are those specials spots that, if you haven’t already seen them all over your feed, you will in the next year. (And because international travel restrictions are still a bit hit-or-miss, we limited the list to stateside locales.) So throw a new summer dress and shades in a weekend bag, turn on your vacation email responder, and set out to see somewhere special and new. We’ll see you out there!

Billed as the Hamptons’ first-ever wellness retreat, Shou Sugi Ban House fuses the principles of clean living with a mid-century modern design aesthetic. The private, tree-filled three-acre property boasts 13 guest studios, a treatment spa, multiple pools, and a fitness center. Whether you choose a multi-day stay or book a single spa treatment, you’re in for some serious R&R. Did we mention Mads Refslund, the handsome founder of the world-famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, oversees the dining room?—Claire Stern, Deputy Editor

Best time to get your shot: Catch the ultra-flattering early morning or late afternoon light. As long as there are glaring rays in the frame, you’re golden (pun intended).

Choice backdrop: Take a cue from fashion influencers and post a photo dump from inside your palatial 400-square-foot space. Must include: the L-shaped couch, private garden patio, and Japanese soaking tub—glass of wine optional, bubbles mandatory. Bonus points for a video of the fireplace crackling, set to mood music.

what to pack

courtesy the dive motel, ben fitchett

For those craving the seedy aesthetic of the ‘70s without the seediness, book a room at The Dive Motel. The one-of-a-kind property turns the hands of time and leaves no retro stone unturned (think: shag headboards, wood paneling, and a mountainside mural that transports you to the great outdoors). Naturally, each thematic room is also equipped with a disco ball to get the party started. The motel also operates as a swim club, so if you live in Tennessee, you can buy a day pass and snap vintage-hued pics to your heart’s content.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: First thing in the morning, to avoid background noise.

Choice backdrop: While there’s no shortage of options, the “No Diving” sign by the pool area is certainly the flashiest.

what to pack

courtesy of the goodtime hotel

Experience Miami back in full swing at this new South Beach hotel by Pharrell Williams and David Grutman. Wes Anderson-meets-Art Deco-inspired aesthetics collide at The Goodtime Hotel, providing a photo opportunity at every turn. Be sure to grab a cocktail at the hotel bar and restaurant, Strawberry Moon, where the people-watching is equally as much of a visual experience. Future plans for the hotel include retail space, a coffee shop, and a music studio. For now, display cases lined with Pharrell’s signature green Stan Smiths for sale give you the option to keep the good vibes going long after you leave Miami.—Mia Feitel, Design Director

Best time to get your shot: Before the party starts.

Choice backdrop: Poolside, swaying to the beat of DJ Alesso.

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Flamingo Estate is an Instagram opportunity that requires some networking. The invite-only private property is a self-described “hedonistic enclave; a haven for creativity and collaboration in the City of Angels.” Completely hidden from the city itself, you may have seen the lush orchards and gardens in the background of Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow photoshoot or Phoebe Tonkin’s latest IG post. (Or maybe you were one of the lucky few who were treated to a set by Haim on the grounds?) If you can’t nab an invite, you can always shop the estate’s lifestyle brand online, where it carries an array of Goop-esque luxury products ranging from bath salts to rosé.—Chloe Hall, Beauty Director

Best time to get your shot: If you’re lucky enough to score an invite, we hear the morning and early evening light is otherworldly.

Choice backdrop: Beg to see the blue-stained glass bathtub, the David Hockney folding screen in the living room, or the reflecting pool, which is lined with Moroccan tile and anchored by an antique French statue.

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Arguably the hottest free ticket in town, Little Island is a visually arresting oasis perched above the Hudson River—and looks unlike any other park in New York City, if not the entire world. With its signature tulip-shaped concrete pillars that sprawl out into dazzling gardens up top, Little Island offers breathtaking views of downtown Manhattan and New Jersey with plenty of space to have a picnic, enjoy a performance at the amphitheater, or just amble around aimlessly. Pro tip: For visits after 12PM, be sure to reserve a ticket at least a week in advance; this place books up fast.—Alyssa Bailey, News and Strategy Editor

Best time to get your shot: Golden hour, of course.

Choice backdrop: The Southwest Overlook is one of the highest points of the park with the best city backdrop. It gets a little crowded during peak times, so expect to wait your turn to get your shot.

what to pack

places to instagram

After the year we had, you deserve a getaway to rejuvenate your mind and body. Look no further than the Enchantment Resort, surrounded by the scenic red rocks of Boynton Canyon in Sedona, AZ. The getaway features newly redesigned accommodations—we love the pool suites, complete with a working fireplace, an outdoor patio to take in the sights, and, you guessed it, a private pool—but all guests can access over 100 weekly activities ranging from meditation and tennis to stargazing with the on-site astronomer. Enchantment even has a designated outdoor activity hub, so you can explore the gorgeous setting of luscious forests set against red canyon walls. For the spiritually inclined, the canyon is also known as the location of a spiritual energy vortex.

While the resort’s famed Mii amo spa is closed for renovations until spring 2022, the resort isn’t letting its offerings fall by the wayside, with treatments ranging from the traditional (massages, facials, one-on-one yoga instruction) to things you can’t find just anywhere, like past-life regression, Reiki, and sound therapy.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: The red rocks never look better than right before or around sunset, during the so-called golden hour.

Choice backdrop: Not too far off the trailhead, you’ll find the towering majesty of Cathedral Rock. Prepare to be awestruck.

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barbara kruger

Few artists have entered our cultural zeitgeist quite like Barbara Kruger. Without her, not only would we not have her thought-provoking work on feminist reclamation and consumerism, we wouldn’t have Supreme, who pulled her usage of Futura for its own brand. Suffice it to say, her exhibits pull in the hypebeasts and art heauxs alike, so her new exhibit, Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You, presented at the Art Institute of Chicago, will undoubtedly be a destination. If you’re not located near Chi-Town, catch the touring show when it lands at LACMA next.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: Weekdays are best to beat foot traffic, but this exhibit extends past the museum’s walls, so keep your eyes peeled for CTA buses also dressed in Kruger’s work—and cop a transit pass for the exhibit as well.

Choice backdrop: You’ll probably recognize her most famous works when you spot them, or the hoards of people around them. Choose one of her less-hyped works to up your art cred.

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How many undulating, bouclé white couch corners photographed in soft natural lighting have you double-tapped today? If the answer exceeds more than two, Santa Monica Proper is calling your name. The luxurious hotel was designed by the iconic, IG-beloved designer Kelly Wearstler. Even if you don’t stay the night in one of its lavish rooms (bed frames upholstered in imported linens and travertine showers, anyone?), you’ll want to be buried in the lobby somewhere between a Camaleonda sofa and a sculptural coffee table sourced from Scandinavia.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: If you want that private-resort-no-photos look, you’ll want to get up early.

Choice backdrop: Anywhere in the lobby.

what to pack

places to instagram

Just a few miles outside of Big Bend National Park is the state’s infamous ghost town, Terlingua. Spend your day roaming the ruins—and don’t sleep on the spooky graveyard. There’s also a self-guided walking tour to help you get around town. Cool off with a Shiner and heaping bowl of chili at the charming Starlight Theatre Restaurant. Consider finishing off your meal with one of the saloon’s famous churros topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.—Rose Minutaglio, Staff Writer

Best time to go to get your shot: At sunset or after dark. After all, the stars at night are big and bright in Texas!

Where to get the shot: The Starlight Theater. Or, if you dare, the town ruins.

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Liz Lambert and McGuire Moorman Hospitality, beloved legends of the Austin design and hospitality scene, joined forces for Hotel Saint Vincent, their first collaboration in The Big Easy. Situated in the Lower Garden District, the hotel occupies a remodeled orphanage from the 1860s featuring original details with ‘70s Italian touches. Ebru-marbled wallpaper, jewel tones, plush velvet seating, and dark interiors give a mysterious feel in a space that invites you to unwind after a day of revelry.—Mia Feitel, Design Director

Best time to get your shot: Day or night.

Choice backdrop: The bathtub, but you really can’t miss.

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The glitz and glamour of the Roaring Twenties are alive and well at Delilah, a supper club-meets-Gatsby party at Wynn Las Vegas. Book a table to enjoy the fine dining, then hold it down as the vibe shifts with a live jazz band, in-house dancers, and bottle service. It’s sure to be a see-and-be-seen hotspot when its doors open this month.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: Nightlife can be hard to capture, but make your own light in your sparkliest dress.

Choice backdrop: We’re super intrigued by the troop of all-female performers.

what to pack

blackberry farm

If you prefer your cottagecore more Southern style than chateau chic, book a getaway to Walland, TN, where Blackberry Farm awaits with 68 rooms nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a yoga class, try a guided fly-fishing trip, or seize a rocking chair and an ice-cold saison at the resort brewery.—Lauren Puckett, Associate Editor

Best time to get your shot: At breakfast. Order the chef’s renowned griddle cakes and gaze at the mist cascading poetically over the hills.

Choice backdrop: Either grab a spot at one of the restaurants overlooking the verdant forests or lounge in one of the floating beds at the full-service spa.

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If you’ve ever harbored dreams of walking on the moon but lack the stomach for takeoff, Bonneville Salt Flats is your next best bet. The stunning stretch of salt crust covers a vast 46 square miles, and pretty much looks (and feels) like it’s been imported from another planet. Located in Tooele County, Utah, about a 90-minute drive from Salt Lake City, the site hosts large-scale events throughout the year—including several car races—but still feels intimate enough for engagement photos or a solo shoot.—Lauren Puckett, Associate Editor

Best time to get your shot: Sunrise or sunset. The lighting can get harsh during the day, so opt for an hour when the sky explodes with soft purples, oranges, and blues.

Choice backdrop: Pick an angle, any angle. Every spot on the Flats is a go.

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places to instagram

With swoon-worthy décor and food you can almost taste through your phone, Uchi Denver‘s chic interiors and creative twist on Japanese cuisine practically begs to be documented. Whether you snap a pic of the floor-to-ceiling windows or your pristine-looking plate, you’ll definitely want to share this locale with your friends, family, and aspiring foodies who stalk the location tag.—Tatjana Freund, Beauty Ecommerce Writer

Best time to get your shot: Dusk.

Choice backdrop: Grab a seat at the bar so you get a full view of the space, then order your dish of choice. (We recommend the hama chili.)

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Not everyone is staying stateside this year, so the ideal destination that doesn’t feel too far from home is Mexico—specifically, Baja. The winding Peninsula is where Los Angelenos love to drive over the border to party in Tijuana, but crawl further south toward Cabo for Todos Santos, a quieter city that remains an idyllic reprieve. The once sleepy surf town is fast becoming a high-end destination, due in part to Paradero Todos Santos, which opened in February. The architecture is peak indoor-outdoor living, flowing seamlessly from its concrete structures to its dusty landscape of cactus-studded desert and unspoiled mesa farmland. Some high-low experiences include hands-on farming tutorials and ocean safaris. But the main event? Champagne and burrito tastings.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: You’re in Baja, we’ll meet you at sundown.

Choice backdrop: The better question is where not to get the shot. It’s dealer’s choice at the Paradero, so opt for a snap outside next to the building’s undulating forms, lounging at its 130-foot-long infinity pool, or soaking in your personal outdoor tub, with palm trees as your backdrop.

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places to instagram

James Turrell’s art installations are so aesthetically pleasing that Kendall Jenner even has one in her own home. This immersive exhibit at MASS MoCA, JAMES TURRELL: C.A.V.U., was 30 years in the making, and features a window into the sky that’s completely ‘gram-worthy.—Tatjana Freund, Beauty Ecommerce Writer

Best time to get your shot: Around noon on a clear day.

Choice backdrop: Lie down underneath the aperture to capture the blue sky.

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Sure, “glamping” might be a cutesy euphemism for, uh, not actually camping, but there’s no judgement here. After all, why struggle to set up a tent in the woods when Collective Vail has a resort-style Rocky Mountain retreat just waiting for you? The location overlooking Vail Valley features a fully outfitted ranch, where you can choose between two luxurious guest tents (with electricity and hot running water!).— Lauren Puckett, Associate Editor

Best time to get your shot: Right between drinks and dinner.

Choice backdrop: Give your followers a peek at the Rocky Mountains through your open door—while you lounge in bed and enjoy a complimentary breakfast, which you can have delivered directly to your tent.

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Vacation planning can be frustrating, especially if everyone in your former quar-pod has different interests. One loves luxury spas, another goes gaga for Art Deco and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, a third is still obsessed with Bridgerton cosplay (country estates that are anything but rustic, please!), still another is a superfan of The Bachelor. Thankfully, you don’t have to choose at Nemacolin Resort in the Pennsylvania Highlands—aka an easy drive from New York City. Choose to stay in the historic Chateau, a formidable Tudor revival, book a multi-day adventure excursion (with zip lining!), or just hang by pool at Falling Rock, designed in tribute to Wright’s iconic style. The full grounds span nearly 2,000 acres, so you’re certain to find something for everyone.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: Do your own mini-shoot in the full midday light.

Choice backdrop: The Chateau, with its beautiful fountains out front.

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A day-to-night members-only club made for working hard and partying harder, Zero Bond in New York’s NoHo neighborhood requires an application to enter. Once you’re accepted, though, the artsy office-meets-lounge space is as intoxicating as the stacked cocktail list. Oh, and if you need brainstorming fuel while perusing the screening room or library, there’s a sushi bar, grill room, and cafe to keep you satiated.—Lauren Puckett, Associate Editor

Best time to get your shot: Wait until the sun goes down and the chic neon lights turn on.

Choice backdrop: Snag one of the velvet couches, then strike a pose.

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places to insta

Miami’s Art Basel might be this city’s most enviable Instagram spot once a year, but don’t be fooled: You can get an inspired backdrop here year-round at The Bass contemporary art museum in Miami Beach. The beachfront Art Deco building is home to an indoor set of international contemporary exhibits—including a large pom-pom wall and a room full of clowns—and the museum initiated the public art exhibition Art Outside, which reaches beyond its grounds to partner sites across the city.—Madison Feller, Staff Writer

Best time to get get your shot: For any indoor photos, try to get to the museum right when it opens to avoid the crowds.

Choice backdrop: Inside the museum provides plenty of options, but the most Insta-approved piece is Ugo Rondinone’s Miami Mountain, a fluorescent column of boulders located in Collins Park, right outside The Bass’s main entrance.

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Montecito is no hidden gem—its enclaves are home to the elite of Hollywood elites (like Oprah and Meghan Markle). But as we see an increase in resort travel post-pandemic, Rosewood Miramar Beach is about as good as it gets. You can peruse the stately grounds, shop the exclusive Dior pop-up on its premises, ride into town in a baby pink Fiat Jolly, or have a soak in its salt water pools. The hotel has all the perks of that particular brand of laid-back California glamour. What does that mean? You get mountains on one side, a pristine beach on the other, and a dog menu included in its room service.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: It’s Southern California, so lighting is always best around 6 p.m., when the world is tinted by the sun’s warm orange lens.

Choice backdrop: In front of the resort’s custom Jollies, in your preferred color of pink, turquoise, or yellow.

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If you’re not familiar with Harlem-born painter Tschabalala Self, then this exhibit is the perfect introduction to one of the most exciting artists working today. Self uses painting, stencils, fabric, and pieces of her own work to literally stitch together reimagined depictions of the Black female form. Tschabalala Self: By My Self is not one to be missed, so make your way over before it ends in September.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: We suggest slipping in just before closing.

Choice backdrop: Among the pieces on display are a new suite of three paintings made in response to Henri Matisse’s sculpture Two Women (1907-08; originally titled Two Negresses).

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places to instagram

This Big Island spot is one of the world’s rare green sand beaches, but if you want a primo snap, you’re going to have to work for it. To reach the remote Papakōlea Beach, also known as Mahana Beach or Green Sand Beach, you’ll need to drive to the southernmost tip of the U.S. and then hike 2.5 miles. (There are also no facilities at the destination, so be sure to bring in—and out—everything you might need.) The beach gets its name, and its Insta-worthy backdrop, from common minerals in volcanic lava that’s long since cooled, making it the perfect place for a swim after a hike there.—Madison Feller, Staff Writer

Best time to get get your shot: During the week and as early as possible, so you can beat the crowds (and the heat) during your hike.

Choice backdrop: In the water, by the rocks… if you can get there, take pics everywhere.

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Get out in nature without roughing it. AutoCamp Cape Cod is a charming retreat that offers luxe airstream accommodations, fancy tents, and views for (literal) days. With outdoor experiences like kayaking, sailing, and eating all the best that Cape Cod has to offer, there are more picture-perfect places here than you’ll know what to do with.—Tatjana Freund, Beauty Ecommerce Writer

Best time to get get your shot: Early evening.

Choice backdrop: Sit outside your luxury airstream for outdoorsy vibes.

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york beach

If it feels like every influencer you follow picked up surfing during quarantine, here’s your chance to get in on the trend without leaving the Eastern Seaboard. The redesigned York Beach Surf Club will feel brand new when it opens in late July, but the club draws on decades of surf culture in York, ME with surfing lessons, oceanfront rooms and private bungalows, the freshest seafood around, and a heated saline pool in case you need to warm up after a bracing dip in the Atlantic. Come on in, the water’s fine!—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: If you’re experienced, you already know to get up at the crack of dawn to catch the perfect wave.

Choice backdrop: But if you’re a newbie, get a shot with the ocean in the background after your lesson, holding your board upright like you’ve done it a million times.

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Potato? Hotel! If you march to the beat of your own drum and want a unique stay off the beaten path, try this larger-than-life potato-shaped Airbnb, aptly dubbed the Big Idaho Potato Hotel. The six-ton veg was a traveling attraction carted on the back of a semi for seven years and now it rests on 400 acres of Idaho farmland. With a surprisingly chic, minimalist interior and a sweet resident cow, you’ll get that cozy, homey feeling—just like mom’s mashed potatoes.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: You can’t go wrong with early morning or early evening light.

Choice backdrop: Standing in front of the potato to provide a sense of scale, duh! (But be sure to take a video of yourself petting the bovine resident of the place as well.)

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yayoi kusama

Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s fantastical, psychedelic sculptures have become the stuff of Instagram legend among the fashion contingent. (Karlie Kloss, Alek Wek, Prabal Gurung, and Aurora James are just some of the names who attended the New York Botanical Garden’s Spring Gala to fête the exhibition.) Snapping a selfie in the Infinity Mirrored Room of her exhibit, Kusama: Cosmic Nature, at the New York Botanical Garden is basically the art world equivalent of a verified blue check mark.—Claire Stern, Deputy Editor

Best time to get your shot: For the outdoor installations, you’ll want to take advantage of the daylight hours—when the large pumpkin sculpture really pops.

Choice backdrop: The Infinity Mirrored Room, if only to flaunt the fact that you dropped the extra 10 bucks for a ticket.

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ghost ranch

As if Georgia O’Keeffe’s art isn’t Instagrammable enough on its own—nothing riles up followers like a NSFW flower painting—this getaway to New Mexico is desert chic in a whole new way. Abiquíu, where the legendary artist had a home called Ghost Ranch, hosts tours of O’Keeffe’s favorite spots, showcases her work, and offers a glimpse into where she found her inspiration.—Tatjana Freund, Beauty Ecommerce Writer

Best time to get your shot: Dusk or dawn.

Choice backdrop: Snap a picture of the artist’s living space to give your followers a taste of life in the luxe Southwest.

what to pack

places to insta

If you miss your childhood days of climbing through sun-dappled trees, embrace nostalgia at the ATL Treehouse, a well-appointed Airbnb outside Atlanta. Enjoy the hot tub, spring for a meal by a catered chef, finesse your cocktail-making skills in a mixology class, or just relish the quiet solitude of foliage as far as the eye can see. The house is built in a 400-year-old oak tree, but its soft pink walls, vintage-y decor, and exposed wood beams make it feel both of-the-moment and deeply connected to the nature around it.—Katherine Krueger, Features Editor

Best time to get your shot: Go for full daytime light filtered through the trees.

Choice backdrop: There are no bad angles here, but we’re partial to the exterior of the treehouse.

what to pack

places to instagram

If you’re looking for a low-key spot that’s not a total L.A. scene, turn away from Chifa. The restaurant, which opened in 2020 during the pandemic, is a breeding ground of SoCal’s finest influencers, artists, and more. Co-founded by Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony, the restaurant is destined for grid posts galore. Serving up Cantonese-Peruvian delights where vegan Mapo Tofu sits alongside Pollo a la Brasa—the term “Chifa” refers to the fusion cuisine, as well as the name of Leon’s mother’s restaurant in Peru that closed shortly after the family relocated to Highland Park in the ‘70s—the Eagle Rock outpost has already attracted celebrities from Kim Gordon to Ali Wong. From its luxe emerald interiors to the purple corn sprinkled with edible flowers, the décor and menu are a visual feast.—Justine Carreon, Senior Market Editor

Best time to get your shot: Before you eat!

Where to get the shot: This location deserves a carousel. Get an above-table snap of your meal strategically placed to ensure all dishes are included, then swipe for a pic of you holding a Yo Yo Good4U, a pre- and probiotic yogurt spritzer created by Leon himself.

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Photo Credits: Shou Sugi Ban House – Courtesy of Fredrika Stjarne; The Dive Motel – Courtesy of The Dive Motel/Ben Fitchett; The Goodtime Hotel – Courtesy of The Goodtime Hotel; The Flamingo Estate – Melanie Masarin; Little Island – Getty Images; Enchantment Resort – Courtesy of Enchantment Resort; Barbara Kruger – Courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago; Santa Monica Proper Hotel – Jackie McQuilkin/Matthieu Salvaing; Terlingua – Sweenshots/Stocksy; Hotel Saint Vincent – Courtesy of Hotel Saint Vincent/Nick Simonite/Douglas Friedman; Delilah – Courtesy of Delilah/Bill Milne; Blackberry Farms – Courtesy of Blackberry Farms; Bonneville Salt Flats – Getty Images; Uchi Denver – Courtesy of Uchi/Kirsten Gilliam; Paradero Todos Santos – Courtesy of Paradero/Yoshi Koitani; James Turrell – Emma Burkarrd; Collective Vail – Courtesy of Collective Vail; Nemacolin Resort – Delanique Milwood; Zero Bond – Courtesy of Zero Bond/Keith Martine/Natalie Black; The Bass – Courtesy of The Bass/Zachary Balber; Rosewood Miramar – Jenny Tsang/Courtesy of Rosewood; Tschabalala Self – Courtesy of the Baltimore Museum of Art; Papakolea Beach – Getty Images; AutoCamp Cape Cod – Courtesy of AutoCamp/Matt Kisiday; York Beach Surf Club – Courtesy of York Beach Surf Club/Read McKendree; Big Idaho Potato Hotel – Jamie Valente/Shutterstock; Yayoi Kusama Garden – Vicki Rutwind/@vickirutwind/vickirutwind.com; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – Courtesy of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/Krysta Jabczenski; ATL Treehouse – Courtesy of Darrell Maxam; Chifa – Courtesy of Chifa LA.

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