5 Artsy Neighborhoods In The U.S. To Explore

When discovering any new place, visitors desire an air of authenticity. One never wants to feel like a tourist, or like they are surrounded by tourists. These artsy neighborhoods in the U.S. offer a hip stay full of murals, creative locals, artisanal shops and local cuisine. Supporting locally-owned businesses and community artisans help neighborhoods maintain their unique culture and identity, so take notes for your next trip to any of these five cities.

East Austin in Austin, TX

With soul food options and speakeasies, East Austin is a blend of southern comfort and urban artistic influence. Indulge in crawfish etouffee or chicken-fried steak at Hoover’s Cooking. If you’d prefer a guided exposure to brunch and barbecue, take an Austin Eats Food Tour. Get served dinner (including a vegan menu) and drinks while you watch a movie at Alamo Drafthouse Mueller. 

Grab some handmade goods to bring home from the artisan shop Take Heart. Experience a show like none you’ve ever seen at The Vortex, paired with a signature cocktail from the connected Butterfly Bar. Look for handmade jewelry or broken-in boots at Charm School Vintage. You can even take a climb at the world’s largest bouldering gym, Austin Bouldering Project. 

artsy neighborhoods in the u.s.
rino
A mural commissioned for CRUSH WALLS in RiNo Art District | SHEPARD FAIREY

RiNo in Denver, CO

The River North Arts District, or RiNo, is known as the place ‘where art is made’ in Denver. It is actually made up of four historic neighborhoods, each of which is plastered with murals. Explore the district on your own or take a mural tour hosted by local artists. CRUSH WALLS is one of Colorado’s largest urban art events, bringing local art outdoors to the streets.

Check out Modern Nomad an experiential shopping journey inside 5,500 square foot warehouse. Comprised of 10 small businesses who are all locally owned, self-funded and first-time business owners, this is the spot to load up on locally made goods. Get lost in the indoor markets at The Source, made up of 25 artisans from retail to florist to barbecue. Upper Larimer street is chock full of restaurants, bars and late-night food trucks. On the First Friday of every month many RiNo locations open their doors with events ranging from art openings to live music, making this one of our favorite artsy neighborhoods in the U.S.

Somerville in Boston, MA

Previously referred to as ‘Slumerville,’ Somerville is now considered a hipster’s dream. One of Boston’s more artsy neighborhoods, you can try a vegan donut at Union Square Donuts or sip on beer at Aeronaut Brewery. Visit one of the intriguing museums Somerville hosts, such as the Museum of Bad Art (art too bad to be ignored) or The Tiny Museum. For active out-of-towners, rent a bike and bike down Minuteman Bikeway.  If you’re hankering for a sweet treat, small batch and local Somerville Chocolate has you covered. 

artsy neighborhoods in the u.s.
wicker park
Vivian Maier rainbow portrait mural in Chicago by Eduardo Kobra  | MATTHEW T RADER

Wicker Park in Chicago, IL

A more relaxed artsy neighborhood in Chicago, Wicker Park is filled with unique small businesses. It is accessible through the ‘L’ via the Damon stop on the Blue Line. Snag some plant-based grub and cocktails at HandleBar. Thrift for retro pieces  at Kokorokoko. Local up-and-coming musicians hold intimate shows at Wicker Park’s Subterranean. Peruse the three levels of used books or watch a poetry reading at Myopic Bookstore. Play vintage games while you drink at Emporium Wicker Park or flip through classic albums at Shuga Records

artsy neighborhoods in the U.S. silver lake
The Silver Lake reservoir with Downtown L.A. providing a stunning backdrop | ALEXANDER GAMANYUK

Silver Lake in Los Angeles, CA

Silver Lake, seen as the opposite of Beverly Hills, is a mecca for musicians and artists alike. Start your day off with a cup of coffee from Cafecito Organico, known for its organic and fair-trade beans. Any cafe that states they support livelihoods and biodiversity up front is a winner in our book.

Throwing classes are open for visitors at Cobalt and Clay ceramics studio. Peruse the gently used and new eco-friendly goods at The Left Bank or Shop for vintage outfits at the Silverlake Flea every Saturday. Forage restaurant on Sunset Blvd serves locally sourced and seasonal food. The most well-known landmark in Silver Lake is the reservoir. Although it looks like a big concrete hole filled with water, a stroll on the surrounding trail has nice views and passes through parks. 

–Annie Lancaster