The Arts District in downtown Los Angeles // © 2015 Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board/Matt Marriott
Feature image (above): Station North in Baltimore, Md., showcases galleries, music venues, cafes, theaters, bars and more. // © 2015 Station North
Cities across the U.S. are transforming once derelict urban spaces into life-size canvases. These cool micro-districts showcase a city’s artsy and progressive flair and attract independent businesses, creative communities, buzzing restaurants, edgy galleries and unique spaces.
From California to Maryland, several burgeoning arts districts have received national attention for their glossy urban appeal. They’ve become popular stops for locals and tourists alike, not to mention an economic boost for destinations. We’ll likely see redevelopment in other major cities across the U.S., but following are our current favorite U.S. arts districts.
Arts District Los Angeles in Downtown Los Angeles
While the NoHo Arts District in Hollywood is still rough around the edges (but destined to grow its wings in the near future), the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) has fully matured into a local hot spot.
The neighborhood features formerly abandoned industrial buildings with wall-sized murals, gourmet food trucks, cool boutiques and cushy lofts for young, creative professionals (and, of course, actors). Though DTLA’s Arts District serves as a set for plenty of television and film shoots (including episodes of “The Office” and “House”), your clients will especially love exploring the area for its creative energy and colorful residents, many of which are aspiring and seasoned artists.
You can’t say you didn’t expect the transformation: Greater DTLA has been swelling as the city’s “it” neighborhood, with notable restaurants such as Bestia, The Factory Kitchen and ultra-exclusive supper club Wolvesmouth. Plus, the area’s newest edgy hotel, Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles, is just a short Uber ride from the Arts District.
Northeast Minneapolis Arts District in Minneapolis, Minn.
Readers of USA Today voted Northeast Minneapolis Arts District as their favorite art district in America — and with good reason. Not only does it foster a true art community (more than 400 artists and 700 members are a part of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association), it’s a historic neighborhood with turn-of-the-century buildings.
There is plenty to see and do, including eclectic shops, more than 30 restaurants, stylish coffee shops, homegrown breweries, open studios and even sprawling parks. With the high number of businesses and activities, clients can spend an entire day visiting Northeast Minneapolis Arts District. Though there are no hotels in the district, boutique properties such as W Minneapolis and Hotel Ivy, a Luxury Collection Hotel are nearby.
Santa Fe Railyard Arts District in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is notoriously lacking a younger generation. In fact, it’s so obvious that resident George R.R. Martin — author of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the series adapted into HBO’s “Game of Thrones” — tricked out an old theater to make it edgy. He also recently contributed $2.7 million to an art collective to transform an abandoned bowling alley into an experiential art space, hoping this would help attract a younger demographic to the city.
For now, the closest thing to artsy cool (beyond Native American art and turquoise) is Santa Fe Railyard Arts District. Just a few blocks from the famed Santa Fe Plaza, the district features art galleries, a farmers’ market, a brewery and some hip restaurants, such as Cowgirl, just steps away. It’s also a short, 15-minute walk from The Inn of Five Graces, an elaborately designed boutique hotel.
Station North in Baltimore, Md.
Baltimore has its quirks — including many made famous by filmmaker John Waters who helped put the city’s offbeat and creative side on the map. And in 2002, the city designated its first neighborhood, Station North, as an intended enclave for hipsters, artists and visionaries.
But Station North didn’t truly take shape until the past few years, proving to be a fun and lively arts and entertainment district with theaters, cafes, galleries, music venues and bars. Residents shack up in former industrial buildings and row houses, but visitors can now stay at The Ivy Hotel, one of Baltimore’s first upscale boutique hotel with only 18 rooms. Recently opened, The Ivy is a 10 minute walk from Station North..
Wynwood Arts District in Miami
Ten years ago, this area was no man’s land. Now, Wynwood is one of the most recognized arts districts in America, and the reason that some visitors don’t even make it over to Miami Beach.
Wynwood is home to more than 70 contemporary art galleries and museums (including the popular Fredric Snitzer Gallery), boutiques, bars and wonderful people-watching. A popular attraction is Bakehouse Art Complex, a former bread factory that’s now home to about 60 resident artists who showcase their work. The district is also one of the largest open-air street-art installations in the world.
Visitors shack up at Viceroy Miami near the new Perez Art Museum Miami, both of which are downtown and a leisurely 20-minute bike ride from Wynwood via Citi Bike Miami.