When looking for U.S. cities with a bustling art scene, it’s easy to jump to the most obvious and popular destinations, such as New York and Los Angeles.
But there are other options across the country that offer impressive art exhibitions, galleries, and museums.
Not only that but there is a chance they could by near, or on the way, to your next RV destination. That makes them great additions for an itinerary like the ones may of our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers are working on for next year.
I put the list below together for you to consider, based on a story done by the folks at TravelTrivia.com.
Here are the four underrated cities that experts say every art lover should visit.
4. Santa Fe, New Mexico
RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers may recall that Santa Fe is a “perfect” destination in June AND September, so here’s another reason: an enormous amount of art is annually bought and sold in Santa Fe. In fact, its numbers reportedly are surpassed only by New York and Los Angeles.
Part of it is because Santa Fe has spent decades building up a reputation as a city with a very distinctive Southwestern aesthetic. That’s drawn in tourists, and has resulted in the city achieving an almost mythical air in pop culture. Proof? Santa Fe has upwards of 200 art galleries, a dozen museums, and numerous art fairs, festivals, and markets.
Try visiting the Center for Contemporary Arts, an exhibition space that features a rotating display of visual art and films. Or explore the gallery Form & Concept, which displays artwork, offers workshops and artist residencies. If you don’t know where to start, consider taking a stroll down Canyon Road. At just half a mile long, the street features work from established artists all across the U.S. — there are over 100 galleries and boutiques.
3. Greenville, South Carolina
Greenville has a smaller population than Santa Fe, but the art scene there is booming. Southern Living calls Greenville “South Carolina’s city of the arts.” An increasing number of artists are relocating to Greenville — between 2002 and 2018, the number of participating gallery artists in Open Studios jumped from 48 to 143.
Thegrowth means that, for the art aficionado, there’s no shortage of things to do — Greenville is now home to 31 art galleries and plenty of museums. Start with the Greenville County Museum of Art that features the largest public collection of Andrew Wyeth watercolors in the world. The museum also often has exhibit tours and artist talks, and even features an Antiques, Fine Art, and Design Weekend every October.
If you’d like to meet some local artists, Art Crossing at RiverPlace is a great place to visit. The gallery and studio space lets you see artists at work in their own spaces. You can enter the studios and see art on display, talk with the artists, and even commission a piece of custom artwork.
2. Cody, Wyoming
You already know that Cody is a great place to still experience the old wild west, but it’s also a great art town. Art lovers will enjoy Big Horn Galleries, which feature paintings, sculptures, and other artwork from artists across the country. Those who are into sculptures will enjoy Mountain Valley Artistry. Owned and operated by sculptor Jim Marsico, the studio and gallery features a great deal of original work. His work has won multiple fine arts awards, and has even been displayed in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Cody is also home to Whitney Western Art Museum. This is one of several museums operating as part of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and has become one of the country’s leading Western art galleries. It features original sculptures, paintings, and prints that explore the history and culture of the American West., along with plenty of contemporary artists.
1 Bellevue, Washington
Featuring a collection of local galleries and the impressive Bellevue Arts Museum, this Washington city is well worth a trip for anyone looking for an artist’s haven off the beaten path. The Bellevue Arts Museum is considered by many to be the Pacific Northwest’s artistic center, featuring the works of influential regional artists and international collections. The museum grew out of an arts and crafts fair established in the 1940s. While the museum is now a permanent fixture of Bellevue, the BAM ARTSfair is an ongoing annual tradition featuring about 300 artists each year. The museum itself is one of the only museums in the country focusing on craft and design as well as art.
Among the city’s art galleries is the Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery. Open since 1991, this gallery focuses on work that is “whimsical and expressionist.” It features a host of artists who have been displaying there for decades, as well as newer local artists. Another more modern gallery to consider is VUE. Only open since 2017, VUE is nestled right in the heart of Bellevue and features a variety of local artists, displaying modern work that is bright, colorful, and completely unique.