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Tours for Art’s Sake

Graffiti isn’t just for vandals anymore.

Long considered a blight of the inner city, graffiti and other street art has been getting its due in the cultural community lately, with many cities around the country forming creative spaces and projects where nontraditional artists can express themselves in wonderfully large and creative ways. This explosion in street art, accompanied by a renewed interest in sculpture and murals, gives travelers new ways to experience some of their favorite cities.

If you have art lovers in your group, consider treating them to a tour of the public art offerings in one of these destinations.


Much of the modern appreciation for street art can be traced back to the City of Brotherly Love, where Mural Arts Philadelphia has been leading the way in urban arts development for more than 30 years. Mural Arts Philadelphia is the nation’s largest public art program and creates between 60 and 100 public art works annually. More than 15,000 people participate in the organization’s tours each year. Groups can take walking tours to see murals on the sides of Philadelphia buildings or arrange for a step-on guide to join them on the motorcoach for a wider-ranging experience. Travelers can also arrange to participate with local artists in painting murals.


Public art has been popping up throughout Denver over the past several decades. The city now has more than 300 pieces of public art on display, including works by local artists and internationally renowned creators. Tourism officials have put together a public art walking tour downtown, which can also make a driving tour for groups. Highlights include a 40-foot-tall blue bear, formally named “I See What You Mean,” peeking into a window of the Colorado Convention Center. Visitors can also see two 60-foot-tall fiberglass dancers on the lawn of the Denver Performing Arts Complex, as well as “Love This City,” a series of neighborhood murals that express locals’ fondness for their hometown.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.