Travel Themes Part 8: Urban Adventure

I love fresh air and nature adventures, but cities do sing a siren song for me also.  It is in the cities that I find museums, edgy food and exotic drinks.  An urban adventure can be as unique and informative as any wilderness experience. Let’s look at some ways to explore a city and have an urban adventure.

Let’s Go Learn Things…..



One of the first things you notice about a large city is it’s buildings.  I grew up in the Chicago area and admit all those buildings just looked tall to me.  This past summer we took the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and I learned all those buildings have something to teach us.  See my post here. Many cities offer architectural/historical building tours. These can be with a docent or self-guided. Some cities are known for their ancient architecture and some for their contemporary.


  • Rome offers the ancient, medieval and contemporary.
Urban Adventures
St. Peters in the Vatican City


  • Athens is most well known for its ancient ruins.


  • Barcelona is a beautiful city at every turn. Their premier architect being Antoni Gaudi.


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A Gaudi building in Barcelona, note his typical organic style



  • Dubai is all about taller and more modern




333 W. Wacker Drive designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox is another great example of contextualism and that reflection I like to capture.



  • New York, what can we say.  This city creates a new icon every year.  Recently the One World Trade building is magnificent. Like Chicago, much of its architecture can be enjoyed from a cruise. 


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New York Skyline


  • Boston is a delicious juxtaposition of colonial and modern. You can walk the Freedom Trail and cross the Bunker Hill  Memorial bridge in one afternoon.
  • Washington DC, every building is a monument to our history.
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In Washington DC every building is a monument to our history.



Museum Architecture

A common venue for architects to show off, are art museums themselves. Here in Milwaukee the spectacular design of Santiago Calatrava makes the Milwaukee Art Museum an elegant urban adventure.

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Milwaukee Art Museum Calatrava building on Lake Michigan shore

Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain

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Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain

Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris

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Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris



Public Art

Cities also pride themselves on their public art displays. These can be sculptures, fountains, or parks. It would seem this is best done in fair weather, but a delicate sheet of ice or snow can really create a beautiful setting.


Minneapolis embraces their outdoor environment, even the frigid winter weather. Their city is full of public art. One of my favorites is the Sculpture Garden of The Walker Art Center.

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Sculpture Garden of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN


Washington DC Sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art

Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art


Sports stadiums

A popular way to build an urban adventure itinerary is to visit sports stadiums.  The itineraries are usually based on a specific sport, but if you are in a city with a well known stadium of any sport it is worth taking the tour. Here are just a few of the well known stadiums:

Baseball Stadiums

  • Yankee stadium New York, NY
  • Fenway Park  Boston, MA
  • AT&T Park San Francisco, CA
  • Wrigley Field Chicago, IL

Football Stadiums


  • Daytona International speedway
  • Indianapolis motor speedway


Street art

Street artists and muralists add their own twist to a cities visual impact.  These unique pieces range from cartoons to political satire. Some are sanctioned and some are not, which adds edginess to the art.

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This was one of the most detailed examples of street art.



I discovered Urban Adventure Quest this summer and played their urban team scavenger hunts in Minneapolis and Phoenix. This was a great way to explore the city and see many things I would have otherwise missed. I highly recommend checking to see if they have a game for the next city on your itinerary. My review of UAQ.

Midwest blogger, Sage at Everyday Wanderer , shares a great list of Scavenger Hunts in Kansas City.

Another resource I found was this site that puts together self-guided walking tours of cities all over the world. GPS My City.



Be sure to check out all the posts in The 12 Days of Travel Themes;
Part 1: Culinary Tourism
Part 2: Fairs and Festivals
Part 3: Historic Destinations
Part 4: Museums
Part 5: Boozy Trips
Part 6: Get Outdoors
Part 7: Agritourism
Part 8: Urban Adventures
Part 9: Scenic Road Trips
Part 10: Literary Travels
Part 11: The Arts
Part 12 : Oddities

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