By: Erin Konrad

The United States provides some of the best ways to soak up culture in the whole world. With impressive museums, a thriving music industry, and art galleries galore, you can hit up nearly any state to find truly memorable celebrations of artistic expression. Don’t have time to travel all across the country? These are the five best states to visit to broaden your cultural horizons.

California

Since California is a pretty big state, there are plenty of opportunities to visit awesome museums, art galleries, and music venues. If you visit Northern California, San Francisco is a perfect place for absorbing the culture. Head to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for exhibits ranging from pop art to photography, or check out the museum’s frequent talks given by featured artists. If music is more your thing, the City by the Bay offers authentic jazz clubs like Biscuits and Blues or the San Francisco Symphony for a more classical fare.

Making your way down south? Southern California has some of the greatest cultural selections in the entire country. Head to Museum Row on Miracle Mile in Los Angeles for world-class museums like LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) or La Brea Tar Pits and Museum. The Westside area of the city also has interesting options, including the acclaimed Getty Center. For amazing outdoor concerts, check out shows at the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre. If intimate gigs are more your style, there are incredible small venues like Troubadour or Whiskey a Go Go. If you have time, explore LA’s theater scene by taking in a performance at legendary theaters like the Pantages in Hollywood.

Illinois

Although the weather can sometimes be challenging in Illinois, the state is home to many cultural sites you just can’t see anywhere else. In Chicago, a great way to get your bearings of the city and appreciate its history is by taking an architecture river cruise. After that, you can visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see paintings by artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Georges Seurat. If you want to take in some culture after the museums have closed, be sure to get tickets to a comedy or music show at The Chicago Theatre, which is just a few blocks away from the famous Millennium Park.

If you’re looking for more low-key activities, Chicago is the perfect place to find amazing art galleries. The Carl Hammer Gallery offers pieces related to commentary on the human condition. If you’re interested in photography, the Catherine Edelman Gallery has become well-known for its exhibits featuring both renowned photographers and newcomers to the field. No matter what part of the city you’re in, you’ll be able to find sights and sounds to help fill your artistic void.

Washington D.C.

It’s no surprise that the nation’s capital provides some of the country’s most enjoyable cultural experiences. If you need a break from taking in all the historical sites (from the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial to the White House and Library of Congress), there are plenty of places to soak up culture. Plus, many museums in DC offer free admission to everyone! You can check out the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the National Museum of American History at no cost.

There are also some renowned theaters that you can visit to take in a show (even Ford’s Theater, where President Abraham Lincoln was shot!) or The Kennedy Center, which offers everything from opera and ballet to symphonies and comedy shows. If you’re interested in getting a bite after the show, DC provides a unique dining experience for travelers. Consider taking a walking food tour of historic districts or a dinner cruise along the Potomac River.

New York

No list of the best culture in the US would be complete without New York. For years, New York City has been on the map for being a mecca of the arts. The world-famous Broadway includes more than 40 theaters, showing some of the best musicals and plays in the world. There are also countless opportunities to take in concerts and art galleries. Plus, when it comes to stand-up comedy, New York venues have helped put many famous comedians on the map. Check out shows at clubs like Caroline’s on Broadway, the Gotham Comedy Club, or the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (with three locations in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, and the East Village).

As outstanding as New York’s theater and comedy scenes are, the city is even more blessed with museums. If you’re in New York, it’s a must to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with artwork from legendary painters like Edvard Munch and Michelangelo. For fans of contemporary art, head to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) for work from Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and more.

Louisiana

The Southern United States offers tons of cultural experiences that can be quite different from other areas. With a focus on authentic Southern food and music, New Orleans is one of the most remarkable places in the country to visit. When you first arrive, try taking tours of the historic French Quarter or the Garden District to help you get a feel for the city. Then, to hear talented musicians (including everything from jazz and funk to blues and rock), head to the Jazz Playhouse, Maple Leaf Bar, or Preservation Hall for some spirited live music.

There are plenty of unique art pieces to see when you visit New Orleans. For the last 20 years, The Jamie Hayes Gallery has brought color and life to the French Quarter, or you can check out the Ogden Museum of Southern Art for various rotating exhibitions. Curious about the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans? Head to Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World for an inside look at how the parade and festival are put together for the annual holiday.

To fully indulge your inner artist, musician, or performer and to check some items off your bucket list, head to these five states in the US. Just don’t forget to visit BUCKiTDREAM and add to your Facebook, Insta, or Twitter pages!

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