Public art can provide a new way to experience a city or make a museum more accessible and approachable. Abstract sculptures and larger-than-life depictions of everyday objects aren’t just for art seekers. They make all of us take the time to appreciate our surroundings.

Art in nature

Sculpture Park in Seattle, Wash., is free and open to the public 365 days a year. Operated by the Seattle Art Museum, the water-front park was built to showcase both natural and man-made beauty. Go on a sunny day for views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier, or sip a coffee in the rain and enjoy the Seattle skyline. Free public tours are available – rain or shine – to learn about resident works of art, like the Seattle Cloud Cover – an outdoor glass bridge and sculpture by American artist Teresita Fernandez.

The eye-catching wonders at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden include a 25-foot-tall, blue rooster and 7,000-pound kitchen utensil. Home to more than 49 outdoor sculptures of all shapes and sizes, the 19-acre garden sits adjacent to the Walker Art Center. Download the interactive, self-guided tour experience to learn about the sculptures, half of which were made especially for the public park.

Catch the glow of the neon lights at an outdoor museum dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the iconic signs of Las Vegas. The “boneyard” at the Neon Museum is home to some of the most treasured signs (and tales) of the Sin City. Guided tours are available and serve as the only access into the boneyard. If you prefer the strip, the museum provides a guide and map of signs that are still in operation. Just be sure to bring some extra change.

Who said art can’t be fun? Located on 100 acres outside of the Indianapolis Art Museum, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park is one of the largest museum art parks in the country. Most of the installations are designed to be sat on, climbed or swung to create a truly hands-on experience. “Funky Bones” is a group of 20 fiberglass benches with images of bones that together, take the form of an enormous human skeleton. Visitors can swing and enjoy refreshments on “Chop Sticks,” the outdoor pavilion crafted almost entirely of a single tree. The 100-foot-tall tulip tree was found in a forest near Anderson, Ind., and transported to 100 acres with a large portion of its limbs intact.

The best sightseeing spots

Cloud Gate,” lovingly known by locals and tourists as “The Bean,” has become as iconic to the Windy City as a hot dog without ketchup. The high-polished steel sculpture in Millennium Park reflects and distorts the Chicago skyline.

Fun fact: While its cleaning schedule varies by season, maintenance crews clean and polish the lower, touchable parts of the sculpture multiple times a day.

All you need is love (and a cheese steak) in Philadelphia, Penn. Robert Indiana’s LOVE is one of the most iconic pop art images in the world. What started as a creative Christmas card to the City of Brotherly Love, quickly became a permanent installation, redefining JFK Plaza as “Love Park.” 

ArtWorks – a nonprofit that employs and trains local youth and professional artists – is transforming the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, one wall, sidewalk and bike rack at a time. Youth apprentices have completed more than 100 murals throughout the city to tell a story of its history, its legends and its unique quirks. Download a map and hit the pavement for a self-guided walking tour.

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