Every state in the United States boasts a unique capitol building, each with its own story and architectural charm. These structures are not only the hub of legislative activities but also a testament to the rich history and culture of the state. Take this virtual tour of the 15 coolest capitol buildings in the U.S. and see if your state made the list!
1. Texas State Capitol, Austin
The Texas State Capitol building, located in Austin, is an impressive structure that stands taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Built in 1888, it’s known for its distinctive Sunset Red granite exterior and a large rotunda featuring portraits of every person who has served as president of the Republic of Texas or governor of the State of Texas.
Fun Fact: The Texas State Capitol is home to the largest capitol grounds in the United States, spanning 22 acres.
2. California State Capitol, Sacramento
The California State Capitol is a perfect blend of beauty and history. The building, completed in 1874, is a stunning example of Neoclassical architecture. Its museum, with rooms replicating the period of the 1900s, offers a glimpse into the state’s past.
Did You Know? The California State Capitol Museum features a collection of flags carried by California troops during the Civil War.
3. New York State Capitol, Albany
The New York State Capitol in Albany is a marvel of 19th-century architectural grandeur. Its Romanesque Revival and Neo-Renaissance styles, combined with the dramatic Great Western Staircase (also known as the “Million Dollar Staircase”), make it a must-see.
Fun Fact: The New York State Capitol was the most expensive government building of its time, costing more than $25 million to construct in the late 1800s.
4. Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg
Often referred to as a “palace of art,” the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg is a sight to behold. The building, completed in 1906, features paintings, stained glass, and furnishings by Philadelphia artist Violet Oakley, making it a working art museum.
Did You Know? The Pennsylvania State Capitol’s dome was inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
5. Colorado State Capitol, Denver
The Colorado State Capitol in Denver is famous for its distinctive gold dome, which was added in 1908 to commemorate the Colorado Gold Rush. The building also offers a mile-high marker, indicating Denver’s elevation above sea level.
Fun Fact: The Colorado State Capitol’s steps are made of Colorado Rose Onyx, a rare rose marble from a quarry near Beulah, Colorado. The entire known supply was used in the Capitol’s construction.
6. Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu
The Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu stands out with its unique architectural design that symbolizes various natural aspects of Hawaii. The building, surrounded by a reflecting pool, represents the Pacific Ocean, while the two legislative chambers signify volcanoes that formed the Hawaiian Islands.
Did You Know? The Hawaii State Capitol’s open-air design allows natural sunlight and trade winds to flow through, reducing the need for electric lighting and air conditioning.
7. Alaska State Capitol, Juneau
The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau, unlike most state capitol buildings, lacks a dome. However, its simplicity and the surrounding scenic beauty with mountains and the Gastineau Channel make it uniquely appealing.
Fun Fact: The Alaska State Capitol was originally built as a federal building and post office in 1931. It didn’t become the State Capitol until Alaska achieved statehood in 1959.
8. Louisiana State Capitol, Baton Rouge
The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest capitol in the U.S., offers panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River from its 27th-floor observation deck. The art deco style building is also known for its intricate friezes and murals.
Did You Know? The Louisiana State Capitol is the site of the assassination of Governor Huey Long in 1935. A bullet hole from the incident can still be seen in one of the marble walls.
9. Utah State Capitol, Salt Lake City
The Utah State Capitol, perched on a hill overlooking Salt Lake City, offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Inside, visitors can admire the beautiful rotunda and the Cyclorama, a large circular painting depicting significant events in Utah’s history.
Fun Fact: The Utah State Capitol underwent a significant renovation from 2004 to 2008 to protect it from earthquake damage. The building was lifted off its foundation and equipped with base isolators.
10. Minnesota State Capitol, St. Paul
The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, is known for its magnificent white marble facade and its quadriga, a golden chariot sculpture on the roof. The building’s elegant interior features decorative art and murals depicting the state’s history.
Did You Know? The Minnesota State Capitol’s quadriga, called “The Progress of the State,” is gilded with 23.5 karat gold leaf.
11. Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln
The Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, a skyscraper-style structure, is a departure from the traditional dome design. The building, adorned with mosaics and inscriptions, is a tribute to the spirit of the pioneers of Nebraska.
Fun Fact: The Nebraska State Capitol is known as the “Tower on the Plains,” and its 400-foot tower can be seen from miles away.
12. Kansas State Capitol, Topeka
The Kansas State Capitol in Topeka is famous for its beautiful copper dome and the Ad Astra statue on top, representing the state’s Native American heritage. The building also houses a mural of John Brown, a key figure in the state’s anti-slavery history.
Did You Know? The Kansas State Capitol’s dome tour includes a climb of 296 steps, offering a close-up view of the inner and outer domes.
13. Florida State Capitol, Tallahassee
The Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, with its modern architecture and towering structure, is a departure from the traditional capitol design. The 22nd-floor observatory provides a panoramic view of the city.
Fun Fact: The Florida State Capitol is the newest state capitol building in the U.S., completed in 1977.
14. Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison
The Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, located on an isthmus between two lakes, offers breathtaking views. The building, completed in 1917, is known for its stunning marble work and the largest granite dome in the world.
Did You Know? The Wisconsin State Capitol is the only state capitol ever built on an isthmus.
15. Oregon State Capitol, Salem
The Oregon State Capitol in Salem, with its distinctive modern design and a gold pioneer statue atop, is a symbol of the state’s spirit. The building’s interior features murals and artwork depicting Oregon’s history and natural beauty.
Fun Fact: The Oregon State Capitol’s pioneer statue, known as the “Gold Man,” is gilded with gold leaf and stands 23 feet tall.
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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey. Featured Image Credit: Deposit Photos.
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.