Be it a road trip or a walking tour, public art crawls are fun ways to learn about new areas, and enjoy some cool scenery along the way. They’re also just-what-the-doctor-ordered for people-watchers. You can’t beat the price either — free. And although not all public art installations are wheelchair-accessible, here are a few favorites for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Southwest Murals Tucumcari, NM
Located on historic Route 66, Tucumcari is home to an eclectic collection of colorful murals that are certain to evoke memories of yesteryear. Some of the pieces in the downtown area are accessible on a short level walk, but the bulk of paintings are best seen on a Tucumcari driving tour. Top it off with a short cruise down The Mother Road and a stop at the New Mexico Route 66 Museum, for a real blast from the past.
A Taste of Tucumcari: Murals, Museums and Memories Along the Mother Road
Sculpture Walk Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Now in its 17th year, this public art installation is a Sioux Falls tradition. Each year local artists loan a prized piece to the city for installation along the Sculpture Walk. Visitors vote for their favorites, and the winning work is purchased by the city and added to their permanent collection. The sculptures are located in several areas, but the downtown installations are best for wheelchair-users and slow walkers, as the sidewalks are level, there are curb-cuts at every corner, and there are several spots to take a break along the way.
Sioux Falls on a Shoestring
Enchanted Highway Sculptures Gladstone, ND
This public art drive takes visitors through a rural slice of America, on North Dakota Highway 85. These larger than life sculptures, which depict different aspects of prairie life, were installed to attract tourists, in an effort to boost the local economy. And although you can get a good look at the pieces from the highway, there’s level parking and good wheelchair access at all of the stops. Pack along a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way, as some installations even have a picnic table or two.
Cruising Along the Enchanted Highway
Mural Walk Ashland, Wisconsin
Nestled on Lake Superior’s southern shore, Ashland is home to a growing collection of historic murals. Painted by Kelly Meredith and Susan Prentice Martinsen, this public art installation includes everything from paintings of lighthouses and their keepers, to a tribute to veterans, and even a collage of vintage Ashland shots. Some of the murals were painted directly on buildings, while others were crafted in the studio and later installed. The murals span a relatively short area in the downtown area, and with accessible parking and level sidewalks, this public art collection is a good choice for wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Take A Walking Tour of the Historic Ashland Murals
Sculptures in the Desert Borrego Springs, California
This collection of Ricardo Breceda sculptures is scattered throughout the desert in an upscale development in Borrego Springs. That said, visitors are welcome to stop and photograph the works, which are fashioned out of rebar, wire and metal scraps. Favorites include a 350-foot long serpent, a giant tortoise and desert prospector. And since this is a driving tour, it’s accessible to everyone.
Treasures in the Desert
Artists Alley Ajo, Arizona
Last but not least, don’t pass up Artists Alley if your travels take you to Ajo, Arizona. Located on the south side of the town plaza, this street art project features murals by local artists. Some pieces have a message and others are just eye candy, but collectively they add a splash of color to town. And with level access around the plaza, it’s the perfect place for wheelchair-users and slow walkers to enjoy a little culture.
An Arizona Desert Retreat with a Purpose