We travel with kids to introduce them to the world. To marvel at skylines, explore famous sights, and tell them the stories of cities while wandering through them. And while very few people are traveling right now, there are still ways to bring the world home in a hands-on way. One popular way to travel the world without leaving home: LEGO Architecture sets.
If you live in a household in which LEGOs are like currency, camp, and babysitter rolled into one, you know the power of unveiling a new set. The LEGO Architecture series provide a great way to turn kids’ building mania toward real places they might someday visit (or have already seen). The piece counts of these sets are high enough to keep kids occupied for extended periods: Most of the LEGO Architecture sets have more than 500 pieces, and some move into 1,000+ territory. While LEGO gears many of these sets to adults (adult LEGO builders, we see and honor you), I’ve found them to be perfect for ambitious young builders, or kids who like to take on LEGO challenges with their adults. The LEGO Architecture sets range in price from about $40 to $130.
LEGO Architecture Sets
My favorite thing about LEGO Architecture sets is that they inspire conversations about building styles and travel, and offer a gateway-from-home for keeping kids thinking about how there’s a whole world out there worth exploring. Sets come with a booklet with more information about the buildings and city. Bonus: These LEGO sets are designed for display, and look just as at home in a living room as they do on a kid’s shelf.
Here are some of the best LEGO Architecture sets for kids (and their adults).
The Architecture Tokyo set is 547 pieces that blend sights old and new in Tokyo. Build Tokyo Skytree, Shibuya Crossing, the cherry-tree-lined Chidorigafuchi Park, Tokyo Tower, Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, and Tokyo Big Sight. Once built, the Tokyo LEGO set measures a manageable 11 inches tall by 10 inches wide; perfect for displaying without taking up much space.
Explore Paris’ most famous sights in one satisfying building project with the Architecture Paris set. This 649-piece set features the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysées, Tour Montparnasse, Grand Palais, Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. Like Paris, it’s gilded with green spaces and gardens. Built, it’s a diminutive 8 inches high and 11 inches wide.
Architecture New York City: Statue of Liberty (+ Empire State Building and New York City)
If a grab-bag of architectural gems seems too scattered, set your sights on New York City and create your own Lady Liberty. LEGO turns this famous sight into the Architecture Statue of Liberty, a 1,685-piece building adventure. As your builder constructs it, they’ll be able to see the LEGO version of the Statue of Liberty’s finely wrought details, including the seven-ray crown, golden torch, flowing robe, and broken shackles.
Want more NYC? LEGO also offers an intricate and ambitious 1,767-piece Empire State Building, as well as a 598-piece New York City set that includes a tiny Statue of Liberty plus the Flatiron Building, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, and One World Trade Center.
Architecture San Francisco
At 565 pieces, the Architecture San Francisco model is among the lower-brick-count LEGO Architecture sets, but it keeps things exciting with building challenges like the Transamerica Pyramid, the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco’s famous Victorian houses nicknamed The Painted Ladies. This LEGO set also includes iconic sites like Coit Tower, Fort Point, and Alcatraz; and includes sky-scraping newcomer Salesforce Tower. Fully constructed, the set measures just 6 inches tall by 11 inches wide.
Architecture London (+ Trafalgar Square)
More than most LEGO Architecture sets, the Architecture London model begs to be played with (carefully). The 468-piece set includes a small-but-impressive London Eye that reviewers say is a bit challenging to build but worth the effort. It also features the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, Big Ben, and Tower Bridge. Built, this set is 5 inches high and 11 inches wide. There’s also a separate 1,197-piece Trafalgar Square set that includes Nelson’s Column, the fountains, London buses and black cabs, and a National Gallery you can peek into.
Architecture Taj Mahal
The beautiful 2,022-piece LEGO Taj Mahal is an 8-inch tall, 10-inch wide architectural mini-marvel. Custom pieces offer a smooth main dome, which can pop off for a peek at interior details like the crypt with its sarcophagi. The finished product is as at home on a mantle piece, book shelf, or office as it is in a kids’ room. Reviewers praise the exceptional details and thoughtful design that makes it a fun build for both older kids and adults.
Let Dubai inspire your building ambition with the 740-piece Architecture Dubai LEGO set. Like the famously architecturally innovative city, the set features some of the world’s most ambitious building projects. Take on the Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, Dubai Frame, and The Dubai Fountain from the comfort of your home. When you’re done, you’ll have a (relatively) soaring model measuring 12 inches high and 10 inches wide.
LEGO regularly introduces new Architecture sets (and retires older ones as well). To see the latest and greatest in tiny city building, check the Architecture series on the LEGO website. It’s also worth noting that Amazon carries hard-to-find and discontinued LEGO Architecture sets, though they’re sometimes marked up significantly.