The 9 Artsiest Cities in the US

by James SheaAugust 29, 2018

As Albert Einstein said, “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” In other words, people love to experience art. They like to look at beautiful murals, see great statutes, visit art museums and stroll art galleries. So, what are “artsiest” cities in the United States?

A graphic of an art easel with a map of the us highlighting the artsiest cities in the US.

They are communities that have embraced the mysteries of art and life and have developed and fostered a vibrant art community. Art is built into the community’s DNA. Read on the find out the 9 artsiest cities in the US.

1. Portland, Oregon


via 10 Best

Portlandia is real. This city at the base of Mt. Hood is full of art and artists. Hawthorne Blvd is bursting with boutique shops and crafts. The Alberta Arts District holds street fairs throughout the summer and is filled with funky bars, restaurants and street artists. Downtown has the Portland Art Museum, the seventh oldest museum in the country, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry which is located west of downtown. All in all, this city is filled with dozens of art galleries.

2. Baltimore, Maryland


via Atlas Obscura

This city outside the nation’s capital has a long history with the arts. Avant-garde filmmaker John Waters called this city home. The Baltimore Museum of Art has the largest collection of Henri Matisse paintings in the world, however, Graffiti Alley on the city’s north side offers a more gritty experience. Murals and street art cover many of the buildings. In addition, the North Station Arts and Entertainment District is a collection of artist spaces, galleries and shops.

3. St. Petersburg, Florida


via Shine on St Pete

St. Petersburg used to be known as “God’s Waiting Room” due to its large number of retirees but that has changed. The waterfront is filled with vibrant bars and restaurants, and buskers often entertain the crowds. Murals are well regarded within the city, and an annual mural festival takes place each year. An old industrial area has also been revitalized as the Warehouse Arts District where an art walk is held on the second Saturday of each month. AmericanStyle Magazine named it America’s Arts Destination for mid-sized cities. To add, it has the third-largest public waterfront park system in the United States as many festivals take place throughout the tourist season.

4. Asheville, North Carolina


via Asheville Surgeons

Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is an artist oasis. A craft beer and a major culinary scene dominate the city. The River Arts District is home to over 200 artists with an open house is held in the spring and fall. Street artists fill the city’s streets, and a drum circle takes place every Friday night at the center of the city. A theatrical bus also roams the streets while the quirky Living Asheville Arts Festival is held at the end of the summer. Other festivals like The Lake Eden Arts Festival takes place twice a year down the road in Black Mountain.

5. Richmond, Virginia


via Richmond Mural Project

The School of Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University anchors the art scene in this capital city. Richmond is home to artisans and artists, and as a result, huge murals have sprung up throughout the city in recent years. Cary Street has numerous boutique shops with arts and crafts which is located a few blocks away from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In addition, The Scott’s Addition industrial district has been revitalized now filled with breweries, cideries and art shops. Like other artistic cities, they have festivals like the InLight Richmond which is an annual nighttime light festival held in the fall and a monthly art walk downtown.

6. Minneapolis, Minnesota


via KickStarter

Minneapolis has a long history with the arts. The region helped foster the 1980s punk scene and is now home to an established art scene. The central Uptown district features the Uptown Art Fair, which hosts nearly 400,000 people in August. It is also home to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker Art Center. Their art festivals include the Loring Park Art Festival, a juried art festival in July, and Northern Spark, an all-night light festival. One focal piece of art was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra who created a kaleidoscopic mural of Bob Dylan on the side of a building, adding to the collection of murals throughout the city.

7. Boston, Massachusetts


via SoWa Boston

Boston is more than sports and the Revolutionary War. Some people don’t know that a major art community exists in the city. SoWa Art + Design District contains galleries, boutique shops as well as restaurants and is home to over 300 art studies. The district holds the First Friday art walk where over 200 studies and galleries open their doors. Public art adorns the entire city, for activities like walking tours to be done with a map. Some Museums worth exploring include The Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art in the Seaport District and The Harvard Art Museums.

8. Savannah, Georgia


via City of Savannah

Anyone who has read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil knows Savannah is a unique place. Each year the Savannah College of Art and Design draws thousands of art students from all over the country to this southern seaport town. Students also hold a sidewalk art festival each year. The city is built around a series of public squares, statues, and art centers like the Telfair Museum of Art, the South’s oldest art museum, and the Jepson Center for the Arts which features contemporary art. Some of the most interesting art also fill the city’s cemeteries. To help navigate these, a guide has been created of local studio spaces.

9. Cincinnati, Ohio


via ArtWorks Cincinnati

This city along the Ohio River has undergone a cultural Renaissance. Lonely Planet ranked it one of the top travel destinations in the United States. The once working-class neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine has been transformed into galleries, studio and restaurants, and the district features Findlay Market, the oldest open-air market in the state. This city is home to The Contemporary Arts Center which features photography, sculpture and performance art, and the Taft Museum of Art that contains 19th century masters and rare antiques. Moreover, Cincinnati owns the Cincinnati Art Museum housing over 80,000 works of art and a mural of Neal Armstrong located on Fifth Third Bank Headquarters within its business district.

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About The Author
James Shea
James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.