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Getting artsy in America’s most creative places

Art has the power to move us in ways we didn’t know were possible. It can evoke unexpected emotions, expand our world view, and connect us to new perspectives. Art lovers, travelers, and the curious among us have much to explore across this country, as great art can be found from corner to corner. Major metropolises consistently deliver, but other large cities house their share of masterpieces, both old and new. Mid-size cities can also surprise with way above average collections, but it’s in the smaller cities where you’ll perhaps discover something truly unexpected.

We gathered a group of places that embrace the art world in active and interesting ways. Broken up by population*, into small (10,000 – 100,000), medium (101,000 – 350,000) and large (351,000 – 1 million), these towns hit the mark when it comes to creativity. Also, we only considered cities with populations under 1 million (we had to stop somewhere, after all). From thriving art districts to international festivals to vibrant public art, there’s plenty to soothe your creative soul. Highlighting the best of what these places offer, from most populous to least, here’s our list of the most artistic cities in America.

Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Population: 17,442
Charming, colorful, idyllic—Ocean Springs is the perfect place to slow down and notice the finer things…and to create them. The Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center is a hub of creative activity, featuring classes, events, gallery exhibits, and more. The Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival sees more than 400 artists and 100,000 people each November, as the streets teem with musicians, artists, vendors, and art lovers at the largest event of its kind the state. If you’re inspired by seeing art in action, visit Labor Day weekend for the Ocean Springs Artwalk. Artists and local businesses collaborate to fill the sidewalks with painters, sculptors, and mixed media artists as they do their work. Downtown shops, galleries, and restaurants are bursting with activity—don’t miss it.