A Local’s Free, Self Guided NYC Street Art Tour
We all know that New York City street art is some of the most vibrant, dynamic, and exciting urban art in the entire world.
Where is the best street art in New York City so that you can take some of the amazing street art walks?
A valid question since New York City is enormous and wandering around aimlessly will get you absolutely nowhere, unless of course, you’re into doing an impromptu New York City marathon (I’m not if that wasn’t blatantly obvious).
That’s Where this Street Art, New York City guide comes in.
See, I’m one of those locals who is enchanted by street art; an artistic genre that has transformed graffiti, a classic sign of urban decay, into a worldwide movement that has made the beauty of art available to the masses.
I’ll sometimes spend my weekends hunting down some of the coolest street art in the city since graffiti art can be beautifully thought-provoking (and one of the best free things to do in New York City).
I created this free, street art walking tour of New York City to help you easily see some of the best New York street art in only twenty-four hours.
I practically had kittens when I heard Banksy was back in New York City, so trust me, I do know where some of the best NYC street art spots are.
So Read On:
And find out how to create a free and super easy, self-guided street art tour of New York City.
So I’m Guessing:
You’ve probably heard of the Highline in New York City.
If Not Then:
The short version is that it’s an old railway track that was expertly converted into an above ground park that gives you one hell of a view of NYC as you walk through Chelsea.
Pretty Cool Huh?
Minus the times when there are ten thousand people there and you feel like you’re strolling along in a herd of cattle (go during the week or super early to avoid the crowds).
But Besides the Gorgeous Views and the Charming Scenery:
There are amazing pieces of street art that are scattered all along the Highline Walk.
Well, the Friends of the High Line association invited some of the best New York City street artists (and street artists from around the world) to create innovative pieces of street art all along the buildings that line the Highline.
The Best Part?
The art pieces here are forever changing so you’ll always have some new art to discover.
***Take the 7 line to the 34th Street and Hudson Yards station. From here, you can walk downtown along the Highline. Once you hit 24th street, you can stop for breakfast at either Sullivan Street Bakery (try the Bombolini aka an Italian doughnut) or at Johny’s Luncheonette (get the peanut butter and banana pancakes).
2. The Bowery Mural (76 E Houston Street)
***To get here from the Highline just take the L from the 14th Street/8th Avenue Station and transfer to the 6 at Union Square. From here, get off at the Bleecker Street station and it’s an easy walk to the mural.
It all started with Keith Haring.
He was the first artist to use this wall as a canvas for his iconic form of art (if you have time, you can also check out his Crack is Whack mural at E. 128th St. along Harlem River Drive. There’s even a park named after this mural. #lifegoals and weeds are for whacking. Get it? Lol).
Now at the time:
His work wasn’t really jazz hand worthy, at least to the public, so other artists quickly destroyed his piece with tags of their own.
He did start a movement towards using this wall to display iconic works of street art, in a rather economically depressed part of the city (Not so much anymore but there are still a ton of homeless people asking for money along the Bowery. They even asked me for a banana! True story).
Art Enthusiasts Liked this Idea So Much:
That, Jeffrey Deitch (a super fancy art curator who is a super big deal and that I had to look up because I had no idea who he was) partnered with Goldman Global Arts (aka the company that owns this wall) to hire world-renowned street artists to paint murals on this now immortal wall.
Pretty Cool Huh?
Bansky actually did some iconic Bansky street art NYC here (see below), so obviously, this spot is a pretty big deal.
if you are looking for some pretty rad street art, then the Bowery Mural is where it’s at since this wall is forever changing and always has some stellar street art on display.
Right, I’ll stop pretending to be cool.
***If you have some time, stop by the New Museum on our way to our next street art hotspot (literally right on the way to Freeman’s Alley). Trust me, the New Museum is an amazing place to discover the latest contemporary art and to catch a glimpse of the city from the museum’s top floor.
***If you want to take a food break, head over to Super Moon Bake House for some great desserts. Everything is amazing but their CROISSANT BUTTER SOFT SERVE is divine. They also make a red, Bi-Color Croissant filled with Raspberry and tarragon jam. Yum! If you want something a little more savory, head over to Lombardi’s (the earlier the better since it’s usually packed) and get an iconic slice of New York style pizza.
3. Freeman’s Alley
What I love about Freeman’s Alley is that it is one of the great hidden gems in New York City!
Unless you know it’s here, obvi.
Tourists will typically walk right by this iconic “street gallery NYC” and take no notice of this quirky, street art sanctuary that New York City street artists have created.
But You’re Reading this Post.
So now you know all about Freeman’s Allery and how to use this self-guided street art tour NYC to fully appreciate the innovative jewels of art that are plastered along this little New York City alley.
Just Walking Through this Tiny Corner of NYC:
You’ll be overwhelmed by the beauty and creativity of one of my favorite street art NYC locations.
Freeman’s Restaurant is a foodie mecca of sorts and has a quaint, restaurant storefront at the end of this alley.
The front of this restaurant will be major Instagram goals for any traveler in New York City.
But this Restaurant Isn’t Just a Pretty Face.
The food here is some of the best food in New York City.
Between the quinoa bowl (if you’re trying to be moderately healthy) and the pea and goat cheese tortellini (if you don’t give a fig about calories), you’ll probably end up licking your plate clean.
And no, I won’t judge you for it.
Just Make Reservations.
This place gets packed, especially on the weekends.
And while the street art here is nice, it loses it’s appeal when you’re starving after waiting two hours for a table.
Yup, even street art can’t stop a serious case of HANGRY
***If you’re looking for a dining experience that is a bit more casual, check out the Egg Shop. Seriously some of the best egg sandwiches of my life. Morgenstern’s finest ice cream is also right down the street and serves divine raspberry cheesecake ice cream (add this little gem to your very own NYC foodie tour), with a great street art mural right across the street.
4. L.I.S.A. Project (Mulberry Street in Little Italy)
***To get to Mulberry Street, just walk down Chrystie Street and turn right at Broome Street (if you hit Grand Street subway station then you’ve gone too far). Walk along Broome Street until you hit Mulberry Street. You’ll see a Cha Cha Matcha (a great place to sit, relax, get some Instagram photos, and enjoy a nice cup of Matcha or coffee) on your left as you reach Mulberry Street.
I love how NYC is now paying artists from around the world to create street art within certain neighborhoods in the city; a spray paint, street art practice NYC that used to be considered vandalism as opposed to any actual form of art.
I support it since these works of art are downright jaw-dropping.
But it cracks me up that the L.I.S.A. project in NYC teams up with the Merchants Association of Little Italy to create street art that adds to the charm and appeal of this lovely neighborhood.
My Personal Favorite?
The Audrey Hepburn portrait that is displayed with a colorfully quirky New York City twist.
But There are a Ton of Other Amazing Street Art Pieces Here Too.
So relax, stroll through this iconic New York City neighborhood, and see what you can find. Part of the fun is walking down the street and being surprised by what you find next on a mini NYC street art tour of Little Italy.
So I have been talking a lot about my mom but there are so many women in this world that inspire me to be strong and fierce and follow my dreams. One is Audrey Hepburn. She was so classy and beautiful and overcame so much in her life. So who inspires you and why? Can’t wait to find out and get inspired for Monday. #girlwiththepassport
***DO NOT eat in Little Italy. Except if it’s Da Nico’s which has pretty amazing pizza. Oh, and they send out a free plate of zeppole for dessert so no need to order any sweets. The rest of Little Italy is rather overpriced and devoid of any great food.
***It’s also acceptable to grab a cannoli from Cafe Palermo. Actually, you can also stop by Aunt Jake’s for some amazing pasta.
5. Centre-Fuge Public Art Project (East 1st Street)
***To get to this next art space, walk back towards Broome street and make a right. Walk until you hit Sara D. Roosevelt Park and make a left onto Chrystie Street. Continue straight ahead until you hit East Houston Street and the park will be across the road and to your right.
The idea behind this street art collective is simple yet brilliant.
Lower East Side residents Johnathan Neville and Pebbles Russell (any relation to Bam Bam? Sorry, I had to go there) got tired of constantly looking out at gross construction sites.
The noise, the cranes, the rubble…
They all fused together to create one giant eyesore that no one wanted to look at
Transform hideous construction sites into stunning street art exhibits by painting vibrant, artistic masterpieces on the exterior of construction trailers, work trucks, etc.
Talk about going from Drab to Fab.
Started in 2011, this art project has grown in size and scope to become one of the best places to find street art murals in Manhattan.
***Hungry? Can you tell that I think with my stomach? Well, if you actually are hungry, walk down Ludlow Street (which has amazing street art and Instagram spots anyway) and stop by Black Tap. I have heard their burgers are amazing but I always come here for the Birthday cake specialty shake. Yum!
6. First Street Green Art Park (33 East First Street)
I’m not gonna go to in depth with this next spot on our street art walking tour NYC.
Well, it’s literally right on top of the Centre-Fuge Public Art Project so they both kind of meld together to form this giant buffet of ridiculously awesome street art.
What I will Say Is:
When I was here, there was a tremendous amount of politically charged art that didn’t fall into the category of, “pretty street art that you can just rush through after you get your selfie swerve on”.
Take your time strolling through this street art collective.
There are some amazing, gut-wrenching, powerful, and truly thought-provoking street art pieces that deserve your consideration.
So stop, relax, and take in the true meaning of the beauty all around you (think of it as an unofficial street art exhibit NYC)
Not that I’m Some Pro Art Critic Who Understands the True Meaning Behind these Pieces.
Maybe the important thing is that all these pieces can mean different things to different people.
***To get to our final stop in Brooklyn (woot, woot), I would walk four minutes to the second avenue station of the F train. Take this train towards Coney Island and take it three stops to York Street Subway Station.
7. DUMBO (20 Jay Street, Brooklyn)
DUMBO (aka not the flying elephant):
Is probably one of the best neighborhoods in all of New York City (and a place you can to your Brooklyn street art map)!
Between the cobblestone streets, the delicious Juliana’s Pizza (some of the best pizza in NYC), the delectable NYC coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company, the ultra-cool shops for hipster wannabes like me, and the iconic views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, it’s a miracle that I ever leave at all.
I could NEVER afford to live in DUMBO.
So unless I wanna be homeless, I kind of have to leave.
It’s no surprise that this cultural hotspot is also home to some amazing Brooklyn street art spots, all of which lie within a four-block block radius of the BQE.
Now Bare in Mind:
These eight murals were created back in 2013 when various neighborhood improvement groups invited world-famous street artists to beautify the streets of DUMBO.
Many of these pieces, while impressive and meaningful, are somewhat faded and less pronounced than they once were.
So just keep that in mind when you visit because I don’t want you to get all disappointed because these street art murals aren’t as glam as you thought they’d be.
These murals are great street art NYC pieces, but they are just not as amazing as they once were.
This Concludes This Episode of Girl With the Passport, Street Art NYC Locations Edition
I’m Gonna Try and Be SUPER Honest for a Moment.
Are these all of the absolute best street art locations in New York City?
Nope, not a chance.
Between Coney Island Art Walls, the Big Pun Memorial in the Bronx, the Bushwick Collective (There is a whole Bushwick street art map that you can check out), the Freedom Tunnel, Grafitti Hall of Fame in East Harlem, Tuff City in the Bronx, the Welling Court Project in Queens, etc. there are simply too many amazing graffiti street art, NYC locations to see them all in twenty four hours in New York City.
You’d Probably Need a Solid Week to see all those street art locations during some great street art tours in NYC.
I intentionally shortened this list of stellar NYC graffiti art locations.
The majority of these iconic street art pieces, like the Audrey Hepburn street art NYC, are located in lower Manhattan and DUMBO since these are the areas in New York City that most visitors frequent.
So embrace your inner NYC abstract art critic and take a street art walk to visit some of the best spots for street art NYC.
And if you want to pay for a tour, Graff Tours has some great artist led street art tours and workshops.
Graff Tours is based in Brooklyn and will show you some of the best Brooklyn street art locations.