The 10 American States Every Art Lover Should Visit

Marcelina Morfin

Incredible art can be found all over the USA, but art lovers will thoroughly enjoy exploring these nine states plus the nation’s capital. From museums displaying everything from ancient art to contemporary art and everything in between to galleries to public and street art works to sculpture parks, these places have everything an art lover could want and more. Read our art guide to discover some of the exciting art destinations around the USA.

Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles, CA

1. California


The entire state of California is brimming with incredible and inspiring art. Whether an art lover enjoys art of the past or contemporary masterpieces, the ‘Golden State’ has it all. Home to famed art museums, including San Francisco’s SFMOMA, Legion of Honor, and de Young Museum and Los Angeles’ The J. Paul Getty Museum and LACMA to name but a few, the state also has many art galleries showcasing international and local artists. Many sculpture parks can also explored, including The Gardens at Cornerstone Sonoma with its various gardens designed by world renowned landscape architects and designers, along with partaking in art events, such as local art walks and festivals. California, USA

Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago, IL | © Bert Kaufmann/FlickrAnish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago, IL | © Bert Kaufmann/Flickr

2. Illinois


Illinois is home to one of the greatest museums in world, the Art Institute of Chicago. With something for every art aficionado from ancient works to contemporary photography, the museum holds an impressive art collection and features top-notch exhibitions. And while Chicago is brimming with unique art experiences from galleries to street and public art and more, the rest of the state has unique offerings as well. Art festivals and fairs can be found, including the long running — over 50 years — Old Capitol Art Fair in Springfield. For art lovers who prefer to stroll outside, sculpture parks are also dotted throughout the state with the Wandell Sculpture Garden in Urbana being one highlight. Illinois, USA

The Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, MI | © Barb Crawford/FlickrThe Detroit Institute of Art in Detroit, MI | © Barb Crawford/Flickr

3. Michigan

Museum, Park, University


Another must-visit state that should be on any art lover’s list is Michigan. While Detroit has been through some very tough years, the city is experiencing a booming, contemporary art scene. Artists working in varying media are moving into the city and making their mark. Art lovers will find plenty of street art and museums, including The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, highlighting various genres. Other must-visit places include the University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, the numerous art galleries scattered throughout Northern Michigan, and the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, which features works by Auguste Rodin, Roy Lichtenstein, and Richard Serra to name a few. Michigan, USA

The Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, NM | © Ron Frazier/FlickrThe Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, NM | © Ron Frazier/Flickr

4. New Mexico

Bar, Market

New Mexico

A definite art lover’s destination, New Mexico is steeped in history, plus its landscape, which is truly breathtaking, has been attracting artists for years, including Georgia O’Keefe. In Santa Fe, art lovers can visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum where they will be treated to a beautiful display of her works, or they may explore one of over 250 art galleries representing a variety of media. A haven for not only art lovers but also artists, Taos is another hotbed of art activity with numerous galleries, museums — visit The Hardwood Museum of Art — and art festivals. In the south, Ruidoso is also a great art destination with many galleries and studios waiting to be explored. New Mexico, USA

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC | © Steven Pisano/FlickrThe Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC | © Steven Pisano/Flickr

5. New York

Art Gallery, Museum

New York

With some of the best museums in the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick Collection, and MoMA to name but a few, New York is a must-visit destination for any art lover. Not only do these museums call New York City home but also hundreds of galleries plus art festivals, including the famed Armory Show. Public art along with street art is also plentiful in the city. And while art aficionados can find everything in NYC, the rest of the state has some must-visit gems that will also impress. For example, The Hyde Collection, located in Glen Falls, features a great display of European and American works, including those by Rembrandt and Picasso, while Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery showcases works by Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, and Joan Miró to name but a few. New York, USA

Short North Murals, Mona Lisa by Brian Clemons in Columbus | © Bob Hall/FlickrShort North Murals, Mona Lisa by Brian Clemons in Columbus | © Bob Hall/Flickr

6. Ohio



Ohio is another popular art destination in the USA that should be on the radar for anyone who has a passion for art. In Cincinnati, there is the Cincinnati Art Museum, which is one of the oldest art museums in the USA and displays works from the ancient art of Egypt to old masters to modern art and so much more, along with the Contemporary Arts Center plus a large street art scene. Other must-visit museums include Dayton Art Institute, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and Toledo Museum of Art to name a few. Art galleries abound as well as public art, including the Short North Arts District and their Mural Series located in Columbus. Ohio, USA

Chief Justice John Marshall statue at the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art | © Mark Skrobola/FlickrChief Justice John Marshall statue at the west entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art | © Mark Skrobola/Flickr

7. Pennsylvania



With a city like Philadelphia and its incredible art scene, it’s no wonder why Pennsylvania should be on anyone’s list for top art destinations. Any art lover will appreciate the city’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which is the backbone of the Philadelphia’s Museum District and includes highlights such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Rodin Museum. Gallery lovers can head to Lancaster to experience the ArtWalk, which takes place during the spring and fall and features special exhibitions and other events. For those art lovers visiting Pittsburg, a public art walking tour is a must as the city has over 100 works of art that can be explored by taking a leisurely stroll. Pennsylvania, USA

Prada Marfa in Marfa, TX | © Tim Brown/FlickrPrada Marfa in Marfa, TX | © Tim Brown/Flickr

8. Texas



With a state as big as Texas, it should come as no surprise that ‘The Lone Star State’ is a big draw for art-minded folks. From the great art scene in Dallas — it has the largest arts district in the nation — to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts to Austin’s street art scene, the possibilities for art lovers in Texas is endless. While Dallas, Houston, and Austin are probably some of the bigger players in art, there are many other great art destinations in Texas, including Marfa. This tiny west Texas town is a well-known art mecca — thanks to late minimalist artist Donald Judd — known for popular works such as Prada Marfa, a faux Prada store on the outskirts of town, by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. Texas, USA

Detail from Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Center, Seattle, WA | © hj_west/FlickrDetail from Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle Center, Seattle, WA | © hj_west/Flickr

9. Washington



From Seattle to Spokane and places in between, the state of Washington has fantastic art at every turn whether it be in museums, galleries, public and street art, or sculpture parks. Seattle has many art establishments, including the Frye Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park with its contemporary sculptures set amongst beautiful outdoor views, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass featuring the colorful works of Tacoma’s own Dale Chihuly. Spokane’s art scene is growing with art galleries and museums, which display everything from Native American works to regional art to local contemporary works. And art lovers will even find folk art gems like Dick and Jane’s Spot in Ellenburg. Washington, USA

Exterior shot of Thistle | Courtesy of ThistleExterior shot of Thistle | Courtesy of Thistle

10. Washington D.C.


Washington D.C.

While Washington D.C. is not a state, it is the USA’s capital, and with its impressive art scene, a list would not be complete without its inclusion. With dozens of museums and galleries, Washington D.C. is sure to have something to pique every art lover’s interest. The National Gallery of Art is a great place to explore numerous genres while The Phillips Collections is a wonderful museum to discover modern art. Other places of interests include the National Museum of Women in the Arts with its exhibitions recognizing and celebrating women artists, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which focuses on modern and contemporary art. Washington D.C., USA By Marcelina Morfin

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