How to channel your inner creative on vacation

Making art all over America

When you embark on an adventure, you gravitate toward stunning sights and unforgettable stories. With a camera in hand and a journal or palette in your carry-on bag, you’re ready to soak up some inspiration from new surroundings. No matter where you travel in the United States, every destination has something to spark your artistic expression. Ready to channel your inner creativity all over the country? Pack your supplies, and take these traveler-tested tips with you on your next journey.

1. Appreciate a room with a view

view of beach and pool from hotel del coronado

As an artist, you know context is everything. So, when it’s time to plan your getaway, center your stay in a spectacular setting. This may mean booking a vintage boutique hotel with gallery-style guest rooms, or splurging on the waterfront balcony.

If lighting your budget on fire like a pyro art demonstration isn’t on your itinerary, opt for a location with easy access to the city’s cultural hub and your favorite landmarks. Scenic small towns also offer a quiet and visually stunning backdrop as well as some awesome local storytelling. Choosing the right place to stay is one of the easiest ways to be more creative from the moment you wake up to the time you fall asleep.

2. Honor inspiration

Top: Flickr/Alvaro Blanes; Bottom: Balboa Park

Honoring inspiration means following where your heart and creativity lead. Traveling usually amplifies whimsy, and there’s something special about exploring unfamiliar cultures and landscapes with art. Not sure where to find inspiration in new places? We love to people-watch in city parks and peruse galleries of local and renowned museums.

For the best of both worlds, add parks with museums to your vacation must-visit list. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is located inside Central Park, and Balboa Park is home to some of the most inspiring things to do in San Diego, like wandering through the Botanic Garden and visiting over a dozen museums, including the Mingei International Museum.

3. Learn from the masters

Top:Yelp/Tabitha B.; Bottom Left: Flickr/mliu92; Bottom Right: Flickr/Erwin Bernal

You don’t have to be in art school to learn from experienced and talented creative-minded people. And even if you are a student, now’s the time to mix up your portfolio! Check out the local art studios and community centers for workshops in your vacation destination.

The Saturday Studio Workshops at Art Institute of Chicago are among the best Chicago activities for the creatively inclined. Looking for things to do in Seattle? The city earned a spot among America’s most artistic towns earlier this year, for lots of reasons. The city is known for its intricate glass art, and several venues offer individual and weekend classes. Check out the extensive schedule at the Seattle Glassblowing Studio. Art camps for adults and kids run all summer at the Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park. Join for the month, the week, or the day!

4. Feed your creativity

Left: Yelp/Melody Y.; Top Right: Yelp/Jasmine S.; Bottom Right: Yelp/Elie B.

Galleries and workshops certainly fuel your creativity, but artists have gotta eat, too! Wine, dine, and scribble on napkins in the company of other artists and visionaries at cafes and restaurants all over the country. Every city has its muse!

Sip a daiquiri among the old-guard glitz of vintage Hollywood at Hemingway’s Lounge, inspired by one of the most lauded American writers of the 20th century. In New York’s Upper West Side, write the first draft of your chapbook among fellow wordsmiths in the Hungarian Pastry Shop; this café has fostered many writers, and their book covers line the walls. If you find yourself looking for things to do in Houston before a night at the theater, stop for a smoothie bowl and watercolor class at Honey Art Café–keep cool and be creative! Sounds like a sweet combination.

5. Spend time with storytellers

Whatever you do and wherever you eat on your artistic escape, remember to spend time with local storytellers for even more examples of being creative. Stop and listen to a street performer, attend an art gallery opening, or get tickets to an unforgettable theater production. Insightful lyrics tug your heartstrings and a well-delivered monologue will cut you to the core–in a good way.

One of our favorite performing arts destinations is Houston’s Theater District. It’s not only one of the largest theater hubs in the U.S., but Downtown Houston kicks off each production season with a big open house and free performances. You can even take behind-the-scenes tours and learn the inner workings of your favorite productions. Pay attention–this could be your future!

How do you stay creative on vacation?

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Kohleun Adamson

Kohleun is a fan of high tea in Scottish villages and low tide on Coronado Beach, and she can’t get enough of rolling vineyard vistas. These days it’s no easy feat to pull her away from the California coast, but she can be wooed with Moroccan cous cous and ancient palace ruins. As a writer, Kohleun has a passion for sharing the intricate details of a journey well traveled, whether it involves crossing continents or exploring close to home.

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