Any trip away from home is full of new sights to see and things to do: historical landmarks, the latest baked-good fad, a theater show the critics are raving. But many U.S. cities have begun to embrace and cultivate a collection of attractions that don’t require tickets or waiting in a line. Here is a list of some of the best cities in the country to street-art sightseeing and public artworks (not to mention Instagram photo-ops), on display for all, no reservation required.
While best known for the Liberty Bell, the steps from Rocky, and the concept of Brotherly Love, don’t discount the city’s commitment to the arts. One visit to Philadelphia and it’s easy to see why it’s called the City of Murals. Thanks to the decades-old Mural Arts Program, which operates under the motto “art ignites change,” Philly has the world’s largest collection of public art (over 3,600 murals). The program offers guided tours exploring the art currently on display, but if you’d rather do a self-guided tour, MAP also has an iPhone app available for download.
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles hosted the first major American exhibition featuring street art and graffiti back in 2011.Now it boasts the LA Street Art Gallery, an entire institution dedicated to preserving the best eye candy the city has to offer through videos, pictures, and articles before the forces that be take it down or another inspired artist covers it up. The gallery’s website features an interactive and often-updated map of creativity currently on display in the city and a comprehensive database of images, so you’ll never be left in the dark.
While other Midwestern cities have plenty to see, you’d be remiss to miss Indianapolis. The Public Art Directory catalogs not only murals–like the floral beauty of Autumn Prairie Morning and At the Bus Stop, Without Delay, a piece inspired by the artist’s own commute–it also shows you where to find the plethora of sculptures and installations scattered throughout the city.
New York, NY
Even with the truly sad demolition of the graffiti mecca 5 Pointz in Long Island City, New York is still home to some of the most creative street art. From Bushwick in Brooklyn, to the gallery district in Chelsea, to the Graffiti Hall of Fame in East Harlem, new and established artists are always taking to the streets to showcase their talents. The Public Art Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing art just as dynamic as the city itself to the people is a great resource for current exhibitions currently on display.
Already known for its colorful and exciting nightlife, Miami is also making a name for itself when it comes to street art. In 2009, the city debuted the Wynwood Walls project, where notable and yet-unknown artists transformed a rundown area into a breathtaking collection of what is now one of the world’s largest collections of commissioned murals.