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9 Artful Ways to Make your Vacation Unforgettable

9 Artful Ways to Make Your Vacation Unforgettable!
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9 Artful Ways to Make Your Vacation Unforgettable!

Do you have a vacation planned this year? Make it fun and meaningful by including your passion for art in your holiday plans.

1. Find out about local cultural events.

A poster for the Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition.
A vintage poster for the Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition.

Taking a bit of time to research what’s happening in the city, town or region you’re visiting will give you tons of ideas for fun and interesting activities to do while you’re on vacation. Pick up a local newspaper or a cultural magazine upon arrival, or stop in at a tourist information booth to find out about local cultural events. Look for posters in shop windows and lamp posts or ask around. There are likely to be interesting art exhibitions, dance performances, outdoor concerts or theatre shows for you to attend. Get the flavor of a city by discovering its cultural scene!

2. Visit local museums and galleries.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a fantastic collection and a beautiful sculpture garden in its leafy courtyard where you can relax in the heart of New York.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has a fantastic collection and a beautiful sculpture garden in its leafy courtyard where you can relax in the heart of New York.

This is the most obvious way to add an art dimension to your tourist activities this vacation. If you’re going to Paris, London, New York, or Madrid, just to name a few, you certainly have a major art museum on your to-do list. And yet, while big cities undoubtedly have fabulous art collections, small cities and towns will usually have a local museum and/or a handful of galleries too. These offer a chance to discover new and local artists.

3. Do a walking or biking tour of outdoor public art installations.

An organized bike tour of Barcelona's highlights, including Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.
An organized bike tour of Barcelona’s highlights, including Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Almost any town has an outdoor public art collection that may include murals painted on the sides of old buildings, public sculptures, garden installations, statues and monuments, beautiful architecture, and colorful graffiti art. Many of these works are commissioned by famous local or regional artists. In some cases, buildings like museums and galleries have been designed by renowned international architects. Try to include some of these artworks in a walking or biking tour of the city.

4. Visit cathedrals, universities, and other public buildings.

Part of the wonderful collection of art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia.
Part of the wonderful collection of art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia.

Sometimes fabulous art is housed in unexpected places—universities and colleges often have their own art collections, banks too will have modern and contemporary art, while cathedrals are known for their frescoes, ceiling paintings and sculptures done by famous artists. These institutions are often historic sites that offer the opportunity to view interesting architecture at the same time.

5. Plan a studio visit.

Frida Kahlo's paper mache creations. One of many things that you can see at her house and studio in Mexico City.
Frida Kahlo’s paper mache creations. One of many things that you can see at her blue house and studio museum in Mexico City.

Visiting artists’ studios offers a rare opportunity to gain insight into their working processes and studio practices. Many cities and villages organize tours of contemporary artists’ studios during which you can meet the artists, ask them questions and buy artwork. Famous past artists’ studios are often preserved as museums or cultural sites which house many of their works, sketchbooks and studio objects.

6. Bring your sketchbook.

Sketching by the Ljubljana River in Slovenia.
One of my ink sketches of the historic houses along the Ljubljana River in Slovenia.

Sketching is the perfect relaxed activity to do while soaking up your surroundings or having a drink on a terrace. It is a chance to interact with locals who, curious about what you’re doing, will be likely to strike up a conversation. Your sketches will be a personal souvenir to bring home and share with friends and family! You can also buy post-card sized watercolor paper to send your sketches by mail.

7. Attend a festival or craft fair.

An exhibition of art by Quebec artists Isabelle Malo at one of the many outdoor summer art festivals in the region.
An exhibition of art by Quebec artist Isabelle Malo at one of the many outdoor summer art festivals in the region.

Art fairs are lively events happening almost everywhere. Even tiny villages often organize a summer festival, or at the very least a farmers market with some handmade artisan or craft products. Sample local delicacies or wine and stroll through parks filled with treasures. Stop at individual stalls to chat with local artists and fall in love with their work.

8. Bring along a great art-themed read.

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh.
The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh offer insight into his personal life, inner struggles and views on art.

There are so many great books out there for artists and art lovers, from biographies to novels, how-to books and cultural histories. For some inspiration check out these lists:

11 Novels Every Art History-Lover Should Pick Up

The 50 Greatest Novels for Art Students

50 Books to Inspire Artists of All Kinds

9. Sign up for a class or workshop.

A plein air painting workshop at the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art.
A plein air painting workshop at the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art.

Signing up for a workshop at a local art school or with an artist is always a rewarding learning experience. Courses can range from an afternoon to a full week-long adventure. Alternatively, many cities often have drop-in life drawing sessions. You will meet, and maybe even build friendships with, other artists while getting to know the local art scene better. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and learn new skills while you travel!

Check out The Summer Art Guide for more great ideas.

That’s it for now. Did I miss anything? What are your artful ideas for making your vacation unforgettable?

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2 Replies to “9 Artful Ways to Make your Vacation Unforgettable”

  1. hkathy179@gmail.com says: Reply

    Fantastic blog…how generous to share your thoughts and let us live and learn along with you.

    1. Thanks Kathy! I appreciate your kind words!

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