I love fresh air and nature adventures, but cities do sing a siren song for me also. It is in the cities that I find museums, edgy food and exotic drinks. An urban adventure can be as unique and informative as any wilderness experience. Let’s look at some ways to explore a city and have an urban adventure.
Let’s Go Learn Things…..
One of the first things you notice about a large city is it’s buildings. I grew up in the Chicago area and admit all those buildings just looked tall to me. This past summer we took the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise and I learned all those buildings have something to teach us. See my post here. Many cities offer architectural/historical building tours. These can be with a docent or self-guided. Some cities are known for their ancient architecture and some for their contemporary.
- Rome offers the ancient, medieval and contemporary.
- Athens is most well known for its ancient ruins.
- Barcelona is a beautiful city at every turn. Their premier architect being Antoni Gaudi.
- Dubai is all about taller and more modern
- Chicago architecture is steeped in history
- New York, what can we say. This city creates a new icon every year. Recently the One World Trade building is magnificent. Like Chicago, much of its architecture can be enjoyed from a cruise.
- Boston is a delicious juxtaposition of colonial and modern. You can walk the Freedom Trail and cross the Bunker Hill Memorial bridge in one afternoon.
- Washington DC, every building is a monument to our history.
A common venue for architects to show off, are art museums themselves. Here in Milwaukee the spectacular design of Santiago Calatrava makes the Milwaukee Art Museum an elegant urban adventure.
Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain
Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris
Cities also pride themselves on their public art displays. These can be sculptures, fountains, or parks. It would seem this is best done in fair weather, but a delicate sheet of ice or snow can really create a beautiful setting.
Minneapolis embraces their outdoor environment, even the frigid winter weather. Their city is full of public art. One of my favorites is the Sculpture Garden of The Walker Art Center.
Washington DC Sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art
A popular way to build an urban adventure itinerary is to visit sports stadiums. The itineraries are usually based on a specific sport, but if you are in a city with a well known stadium of any sport it is worth taking the tour. Here are just a few of the well known stadiums:
- Yankee stadium New York, NY
- Fenway Park Boston, MA
- AT&T Park San Francisco, CA
- Wrigley Field Chicago, IL
- U.S. Bank Vikings stadium Minneapolis, MN. Check out my friends at The Walking Tourists post about this really cool stadium.
- Lambeau Field Green Bay, WI
- Daytona International speedway
- Indianapolis motor speedway
Street artists and muralists add their own twist to a cities visual impact. These unique pieces range from cartoons to political satire. Some are sanctioned and some are not, which adds edginess to the art.
- Philadelphia has a thriving street art and mural community. Mural Arts Philadelphia gives tours. This is a great post on all the varied forms of street art in Philly.
- Chicago Murals and Street Art
- Miami, FL The contemporary Art Basel/Miami show has brought cutting edge modern art to Miami Beach. One venue that has sprouted from Art Basel is Wynwood Walls an Urban Graffiti Art Museum.
- Berlin, Germany actually calls itself a “Street Art Museum”. Here at Awesome Berlin is a suggested tour of some highlights.
- Kansas City Check out this street art article by The Walking Tourists.
- Street art festivals around the U.S.
I discovered Urban Adventure Quest this summer and played their urban team scavenger hunts in Minneapolis and Phoenix. This was a great way to explore the city and see many things I would have otherwise missed. I highly recommend checking to see if they have a game for the next city on your itinerary. My review of UAQ.
Another resource I found was this site that puts together self-guided walking tours of cities all over the world. GPS My City.
Be sure to check out all the posts in The 12 Days of Travel Themes;
Part 1: Culinary Tourism
Part 2: Fairs and Festivals
Part 3: Historic Destinations
Part 4: Museums
Part 5: Boozy Trips
Part 6: Get Outdoors
Part 7: Agritourism
Part 8: Urban Adventures
Part 9: Scenic Road Trips
Part 10: Literary Travels
Part 11: The Arts
Part 12 : Oddities
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