The Best Cities To See Street Art, Plus ‘Must See’ Spots In Each City

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The internet has allowed creators and their audiences to connect in unprecedented ways. But while the internet is indeed an effective tool for spreading art, if you aren’t searching for something specific, it likely won’t reveal itself to you.

Street artists say f*ck that. Their form is immediate and imposing. It pops up in your face and demands a response — sometimes when you aren’t even in the mood. As such, it’s one of the few things that can make us stop for a second and look up from our damn phones… if only for a moment, as we decide which social media platform we want to show our newly discovered artwork off on.

World-renowned artists and the tastemakers of tomorrow use entire cities as their canvases — beautifying and revitalizing neighborhoods from coast to coast and providing those who don’t always have the time or means to visit a museum with a visual treat. Street art also levels the playing field for amateur artists who can’t get a spot in a gallery. It’s a defiant, beautiful, and important form.

Naturally, some cities do a better job celebrating street art than others. To help you get up on the scene, we’ve collected a list of cities where you can be sure to find awesome paste-ups, graffiti, and murals. Take a concrete gallery tour with us, while we dive into the 15 greatest cities in America to see street art.

Atlanta, Georgia

It’s no surprise that Atlanta has great street art, the city is incredibly invested in its art community. Atlanta is home to some of the most famed museums — such as the High Museum of Art, which is arguably the greatest fine art museum in the entire south. Living Walls, an annual street art conference and neighborhood revitalization project groups artists together with building owners to paint on vacant buildings and transform neighborhoods into outdoor galleries.

Atlanta is also host to a wide range of other events and festivals that celebrate street art, music, food, and local culture. Hands down, it’s one of the top three cities to see street art in the entire country.

Must-Visit Spot: Krog Street Tunnel1 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

The Krog street tunnel connects the Atlanta neighborhoods of Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown, and Inman Park and is popular amongst bicyclists and pedestrians due to its high abundance of street art. In 2014, protesters painted over the walls with grey paint in retaliation to the city planning a private masquerade that would bare the public from accessing the tunnel, it’s a reminder that street art is for everyone not just the privileged few.

Austin, Texas

Austin is a city that understands the importance of community. Their infamous motto “Keep Austin Weird” isn’t just a t-shirt ready slogan — it’s a way of life. And that citywide commitment to out-of-the-box thinking is what has enabled Austin to be packed full of great street art everywhere you go.

Austin’s “Graffiti Park” — an evolving urban canvas of murals — is sadly set to be demolished before the end of the year, but a new graffiti-friendly public gallery is in the works and should be built sometime around 2019 in southeast Austin.

Regardless, this city has enough street art to catch your eye no matter which direction you’re traveling.

Must-See Art Piece: Jeremiah the Innocent by Daniel Johnston408 W 21st St, Austin, TX 78705

An Austin icon painted by an Austin icon, “Jeremiah the Innocent” is a mural by underground musician Daniel Johnston. First immortalized on Johnston’s album “Hi, How Are You: The Unfinished Album,” this frog mural was commisioned by the Sound Exchange record store ten years after the release of the record. It’s a reminder for struggling muscians and artists everywhere that important art transcends the time you are making it. Here is to Daniel Johnston and Jeremiah the Innocent, reminding us to be kind and keep dreaming.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is a very political city, and that social consciousness seeps into the art on display in the streets. When pieces aren’t being commisioned by city-affiliated organizations or non-profits, they often represent the mindset of the people of Baltimore, putting their thoughts and concerns onto walls in stunning ways. It’s what makes Baltimore’s street art so vital and visceral.

Notable pieces in Baltimore include the mural of Divine, a Baltimore icon and sometimes muse of fellow Baltimore native John Waters.

Must-Visit Spot: Graffiti AlleyN Howard St, Baltimore, MD 21218

While not easily visible from the street, this hidden outdoor graffiti gallery off Howard and 19 1/2 street is always in flux, which means each time you visit it will be a unique experience. It’s also a popular space amongst amateur photogs looking for a vibrant background, so expect lots of foot traffic through this L-shaped alleyway.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has a reputation for being the ‘intellectual capital of America’ and its famous Old Corner Bookstore is considered the cradle of American literature. But aside from being a literary city — and the setting of countless movies and television shows – -Boston also has a gigantic presence in the fine art world, as it plays home to many notable museums.

The street art in Boston is vibrant and looks particularly great against the old 19th-century buildings that populate the city. For this juxtaposition alone, it’s one of our favorite cities to see street art.

Must-See Art Piece: “Robert Gould Shaw Memorial” by Augustus Saint-GaudensBeacon St, Boston, MA 02108

One of the oldest public art pieces in all of Boston, ‘the Shaw Memorial” has been called the greatest American sculpture of the 19th century. The bronze monument was made in dedication to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the countries first African-American regiment during the Civil War. While it’s a lot more ‘old-world’ when it comes to street art in Boston, it’s still very worth your time and energy.

Chicago, Illinois

Because of Chicago’s street-grid set up, the city is incredibly walkable. This practically invites great street artists to traverse the cityscape, looking for great spots to make their marks. Chicago nurtured a style of figurative surrealism in the 20th century and hasn’t stopped being a cultural center for visual arts.

The Chi is also home to several large outdoor works (those count!) by famed artists such as the “Chicago Picasso” a cubist sculpture by Pablo Picasso.

Must-See Art Piece: “Cloud Gate” by Anish Kapoor201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

Anish Kapoor’s stainless steel sculpture is perhaps better known by its nickname, The Bean. Cloud Gate is located at Millennium Park and was inspired by the enticing visual flexibility of liquid mercury. Pictures don’t really do the sculpture justice, but as you walk up to it the skyline of the city becomes distorted as it’s reflected, giving a morphing quality to the image.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati isn’t as jam-packed with street art as some of the other cities on this list, but the street art they do have is always vibrant and carried out on a large scale. The most well-known mural in “The Nati” is the Cincinnati Toy Heritage Mural — an art piece that celebrates the city’s rich toy-history as the home of the Kenner Toy Company.

Many of the iconic toys manufactured by the company are included within the mural and it looks like a scene straight out of Toy Story. Except fresher.

Must-See Art Piece: “Ice Cream Day Dream” by Amanda Checco 33 E. 12th St. Cincinatti, OH 45202

Located in Cincinnati’s historic “Over-The-Rhine” neighborhood, this mural by Amanda Checco is the artist’s first, but it’s already become a favorite amongst mural lovers throughout the city. It’s a little psychedelic and a whole lot of fun.

Denver, Colorado

Denver is an outdoor city, and any great outdoor city has equally great street art. The Mile High — home to numerous arts districts — is already picturesque, thanks to its proximity to the mountains. But the cityscape is full of vibrant art that compliments its surroundings. Colorado is one of the nine U.S. states to have legal recreational weed, so light up a blunt and take in the sights.

Must-Visit Spot: The Cherry Creek Bike Path2200 15th St Denver, CO 80202

Perfect for a mid-afternoon stroll or bike ride, the Cherry Creek Bike Path is full of murals and other worthwhile sights, so maybe don’t ride your bike through for your first time — as you may accidentally collide with a pedestrian while marveling at the walls. Or perhaps collide with a wall while marveling at the pedsetrians.

Detroit, Michigan

Since the early 2010s, D-Town has been seeing major revitalization efforts and has become a city full of young professionals, artists, creatives, and transplants — as the city continues to grow and expand, returning to its former glory. Detroit is also home to one of the largest mural festivals in the world — Murals In The Market — which brings international and local artists together to paint murals and sell prints to visitors of the festival.

The mural festival helps to empower artists, engage a community, and revitalize neighborhoods. If you’re lucky enough to attend, it’s a can’t miss event and well worth a trip to the Motor City.

Must-Visit Spot: The Heidelberg Project3600 Heidelberg St, Detroit, MI 48207

Located in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood, the Heidelberg Project — sometimes affectionately referred to as “the Ghetto Guggenheim” — was created by Tyree Guyton, who upon returning home from the Army found his childhood neighborhood in an impoverished state. Guyton transformed the neighborhood to a point of pride for neighbors and
a national destination for street art lovers.

Honolulu, Hawaii

When thinking about Hawaii, it’s safe to assume that street art is something that never really comes to mind. That’s too bad because Honolulu is home to a lot of beautiful artwork and it’s not all ocean-themed.

Honolulu is home to POW! WOW! A week-long festival and celebration of art, culture, and music, it’s the perfect event for art lovers who love a laid-back vibe.

Must Visit Spot: Lana Lane Studios327 Lana Ln, Honolulu, HI 96813

Kaka’ako is the neighborhood for those on the hunt for anything art related in Honolulu. Not only is it home to the Honolulu Museum of Art and a vibrant food scene, but it’s also home to the Lana Lane Art Studio, a hub for artists that doubles as an art collective. It also has some great murals on its building, which should come as no surprise.

Long Beach, California

LBC has long been going through a bit of a renaissance. It doesn’t have the cultural-center-of-the-west-coast vibe of Los Angeles, but its recent boom of development and walkability has made it a hotspot for festivals, foodies, and street art. Thanks in large part to the city’s Mural and Cultural Arts Program, there’s an abundance of murals across a variety of businesses throughout the city.

Long Beach also has its own small arts district that holds monthly street galleries and other art-centric events. Plus, they’re another outpost of the POW! WOW! festival.

Must Visit Spot: Retro RowEast 4th St, Long Beach, CA 90804

With everything from vintage and contemporary clothing, to furniture, coffee shops and skate shops, this is where the artsy folk of Long Beach congregate, and it’s the best spot to find amateur art and graffiti in the city. You won’t come across any of the bigger, commissioned murals here, but what you will discover is an abundance of art that was scrawled in the moment. Who knows, you may even see a muralist planning their next big piece at one of the 40+ independent businesses housed in Retro Row.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is known for its sprawling geography and lack of a true city-center, but there is a ton of street art to be found. The freeways, alleyways, parks, buildings, riverbeds — there is street art from artists across all kinds of different tiers, from amateur graffiti to commissioned pieces. It’s no wonder LA was the home of the recent museum show, Beyond the Streets.

Boyle Heights, The Arts District, and Downtown-proper are the best neighborhoods to find street art and where the art is the most abundant. Los Angeles is the perfect city for a driving tour of street art, no map or route necessary. Just go with your gut.

Must-See Art Piece: “Parking” by Banksy908 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, California, USA

While not the flashiest of art pieces, LA’s very own Banksy piece captures what is on every driver’s mind while they traverse through the city. This isn’t as easy to get to thanks to recent construction which has the alleyway gated off, but you can still catch a glimpse of the piece from the sidewalk. It’s safe to assume that despite the new construction, the mural isn’t going anywhere, as parts of it have been covered in plexiglass and it’s kind of a big deal.

Miami, Florida

Miami is a great outdoor city. It’s so filled with life and music and people that it practically forces you out of doors, with its siren’s song of great food, great street art, and friendly people. Miami has multiple Arts Districts — and everyone knows how Wynwood is blowing up right now. It’s also home to the world-renowned art fair Art Basel in Miami Beach, which sees guests from all around the world.

The city of Miami also hosts multiple street art tours. Meaning that the business owners and people in power know how significant the scene is.

Must-Visit Spot: Wynwood Walls2520 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

When you’re in Miami, Wynwood is the neighborhood to hit if you want to fulfill all of your street-art-nerd needs. But if you don’t want to traverse the streets of Miami (are you okay?) you can just hit up Wynwood Walls, a large gathering of warehouse buildings that have been converted to one of the greatest street art galleries in the world.

Nashville, Tennessee

There is a noticeable optimistic quality to the street art found in Nashville. While the city is more famous for its ties to music, the city clearly has a deep love for all art — as murals can be found on most blocks throughout downtown. In an attempt to beautify neighborhoods, many murals have been commisioned by local businesses or by the Nashville Walls Project.

In the age of social media, a good mural should be a given if you want the continuous advertisement they garner via selfie opportunities.

Must-See Art Piece: Giant Little Octopus Mural604 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN 37206

Little Octopus is more than a mural, it’s also a bar that serves veg-driven food and drinks inspired by California cuisine. And while you can’t fit the mural that graces the side of the building into a phone camera frame, that doesn’t stop people from trying to take a picture in front of it. It even has its own hashtag! This sprawling black and white mural is a must see in Tennessee.

New York City, New York

Street art is so ubiquitous in New York City that the mere combination of the words “street” and “art” bring to mind the city as a default. If you’re looking for a city with great street art but for some odd reason have to limit yourself to just one, this is that one. No matter what direction you are facing in New York, street art will be somewhere in your eyeline. From murals to wheat pastes to amateur graffiti, New York city has it all.

While New York City is by no means the birth of street art — the practice dates back to the world’s first cities — it is the alpha and omega of modern street art, thanks to its boom of graffiti in the 1960s.

Must-Visit Spot: First Street Green Cultural Park33 E. First St. New York, NY 10003

Located in the Lower East Side, The First Street Green art park houses a diverse collection of street art from artists both international and local. Seeing one really great art piece on a wall is one thing, but when you collect this many together it really leaves an impression on you. If you’re reading this piece because you struggle to see the appeal of street art, start here and it’ll all make more sense.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is the mural city of America. It has more murals and public art than any city in the nation, thanks in part to 1984’s Mural Arts Program and Philadelphia’s Office of Arts and Culture — which facilitated a boom in public art that is ongoing.

The public art in Philadelphia is so vast that the city has created an app to help visitors take a self-guided tour. Fishtown is the most notable neighborhood for street art, and it’s a must visit if you find yourself in Philly.

Must-See Art Piece: A Daughter Migrates Towards the Mother Earth by Jess X Snow2800 D Street, Philadelphia, PA 19134

Painted by muralist Jess X Snow there is a lot to unpack in this piece. The use of the “people crossing” road sign imagery, the title touching on our collective disconnection with nature, and the beautiful floral imagery does a lot to point out that no matter where we are from, or who we are, we live in nature’s embrace.

Portland, Oregon

Portland is already so picturesque — especially during autumn — and the street art in this city really takes on a different tone than the rest of the country. There can be a certain somberness to it when yellow, red, and brown leaves decorate the sidewalks and the weather turns rainy. It’s a reflective place with reflective, thoughtful art.

Portland, with its natural beauty enhancing the art on its walls, is the best American city for mural-posing photo opportunities.

Must-See Art Piece: “Curious” by Gary HirschS.E. 17th at Rhine Street, Portland, OR 97442

Gary Hirsch paints totemic bots that ask very human questions of their audience. What’s great about Hirsch’s questions is that they engage the audience, offering viewers to communicate via hashtag or with some other type of creative answer. Street artists that embrace the now and the ways in which we communicate ensure a connection with their audience that continues well after they’ve walked away. We love that.

Reno, Nevada

Reno is another smaller city that can easily fall under the radar when discussing the best street art in America. Despite a population shy of half a million, the “Biggest Little City in the World” has managed to pack lots of street art within its city blocks.

The best spot to catch street art is in Midtown, and one glance at the interactive mural map will give you enough info on the best route to take to see a large majority of it.

Must-See Art Piece: Untitled Mural by Erik T. Burke255 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501

Parking structures are an eyesore, but that makes them the perfect canvas for permanent murals. This one by Reno native Erik T. Burke melts away all the anxiety that comes with looking for a place to park. Painted on the side of the parking garage of the Whitney Peak Hotel this large-scale mural — with its cool blue tones — invites us to stop for a moment and take a breath.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle has had a contentious relationship with graffiti for years. As such, it’s not always easy to find great street art in the Emerald City. Lots of art pieces throughout the city are commisioned works, and though they are beautiful it does nothing to dissuade amateur artists from putting up wheat pastes, stickers, and graffitied murals everywhere.

Unfortunately, this means the street art in Seattle is fleeting — as the city makes a considerable effort to remove graffiti. Still, as one of America’s most creative cities, the art you do find is sure to impress.

Must-See Art Piece: “Fremont Troll” by Donna Walter, Ross Whitehead, Steve Badanes, and Will MartinTroll Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Every good bridge needs a troll under it, and the Fremont Troll is just that. Under the right mind-altering substances, this troll will take on an absolutely terrifying presence. But great art makes you feel, plus taking a photo with a literal troll is a sure fire way to make yourself look like an absolute snack. Here is hoping the troll doesn’t catch on.

San Francisco, California

The best neighborhood for street art in San Francisco is the Mission District. The Mission can sometimes fool you into thinking San Francisco is something that it isn’t — warm and sunny. It’s the one part of the city that isn’t densely packed, the sun shines brighter in the Mission district than anywhere else in San Francisco, and walking through it is akin to walking through an art gallery, thanks to the abundance and variety of street art.

Great food and great art make this one of our favorite cities to walk through, whether we’re looking for street art or not. The neighborhood is also home to lots of great art galleries and a strong sense of community. Don’t visit this city without taking a stop at the Mission.

Must-Visit Spot: Clarion AlleyMission and 17th st, San Francisco, CA 94110

We’ve already shouted out the best neighborhood to catch street art in San Francisco, but if you find yourself only able to check out one spot, make it Clarion Alley. Packed full of murals, this pedestrian-friendly alleyway, between Mission and Valencia and 17th and 18th street is always a great time and a favorite amongst those looking for colorful photo opportunities and community-driven art activity. Expect lots of foot traffic, but (on the bright side) it’s quite large so there’s plenty of elbow room.

Washington, DC

DC isn’t just full of pristine government buildings and national monuments, it is also home to lots of politically-minded and playful street art. The DC area has had a bustling and vibrant community of street artists since the 1960s, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change anytime soon.

The DC Department of Public Works, which started in 2007 as a city-wide attempt to beautify DC, has already been responsible for producing 85 murals in 46 neighborhoods by around 50 different artists. That’s an average of almost eight major murals each year, and that only accounts for the legal art pieces.

Must-Visit Spot: Dupont Underground19 Dupont Cir NW Washington, DC 20036

An abandoned subterranean streetcar station is just begging to be turned into a gallery of great street art. It’s always interesting to see street art in different contexts, and checking it out underground just sets a tone that makes the whole thing that much more exciting. Yes, you will have to pay to get in, but doing so ensures the longevity of the space so it’s well worth it.

The Dupont Underground also plays hosts to several cultural events throughout the year.