Walking is not only healthy, but it’s the best way to get to know a new city. America isn’t known for its walkable cities, but you’ll see things you wouldn’t notice if you travel by taxi or public transport. You’ll even have a better chance of understanding the local culture and people.
Here are our picks for the 15 most walkable cities in the United States based on data from Walk Score, safety considerations, and the number of interesting tourist attractions.
St. Louis, Missouri
The city of St. Louis has a whole lot more to offer besides its famous Gateway Arch.
St.Louis has plenty of public parks, Clayton is ideal for bar-hopping, and the Soulard area gives visitors insight into local French culture. Furthermore, hipsters and art lovers will love strolling around Benton Park West with its top-notch galleries, boutiques, and breweries.
The stunningly beautiful beaches, temperate climate, and rich nightlife make Honolulu one of the most walkable cities in the United States. Surrounded by tropical plants with volcanic Diamond Head as a backdrop, walkers can be sure they’ve reached paradise. Downtown, Waikiki, Ala Moana-Kakaako, and Mccully-Moiliili are some of Honolulu’s best areas to wander around.
Los Angeles, California
With the abundance of traffic in the LA area, you might think the city is entirely unwalkable. However, the City of Angels offers visitors many scenic locations for a leisurely stroll.
Beverly Hills is an especially walkable area where you can do some window shopping at luxury boutiques and maybe even see one of your favorite movie stars. Other ideal areas for walking are downtown Los Angeles, central Hollywood, and MacArthur Park. You can also walk or bike between bohemian Venice Beach and quaint Santa Monica.
The Mississippi River splits the Twin City through the middle, allowing access to both sides. That and the close proximity to several Great Lakes means you’ll be able to walk along waterfronts for miles, enjoying amazing views and local wildlife. Visitors can also roam through plenty of lush parks, mural-lined streets, and farmers’ markets.
Additionally, Minnesota has an efficient public transit system, and local advocates like Ellen Pillsbury are helping to convince local officials to expand the walkability throughout the city. You’ll find the most walkable areas in Uptown, Lowry Hill East, Lyn-Lake, and Kingfield.
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is blessed with a compact downtown area where visitors can walk to the historic ship Queen Mary and dip their toes in the water of some of the city’s loveliest beaches, especially Mother’s Beach and Alamitos Bay Beach.
The city also boasts the awe-inspiring Aquarium of the Pacific and beautiful gardens for strolling. If you want to explore Long Beach on foot, head downtown, or to the Saint Mary and Franklin School areas.
Despite its often rainy weather, Seattle remains a fantastic city to roam around on foot. A gentle stroll through the Emerald City’s downtown area provides access to numerous points of interest, including the famous Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Museum of Pop Culture, and the Pacific Science Center.
Visitors can walk along the waterfront, meander through public parks, and take advantage of the proximity of Mount Rainier for world-class hiking expeditions.
Belltown’s galleries, trendy shops, and world-class music scene make the neighborhood popular for walking. The International District and Fremont areas are also excellent places to explore on foot.
Founded in 1682, the City of Brotherly Love has become a UNESCO World Heritage City. Philadelphia is home to the nation’s famous Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, where the country’s Founding Fathers wrote and signed the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Philadelphia also ranks among the best U.S. cities for walking. The city abounds with classic architecture, quaint cobblestone streets, and 10,000 acres of public parks. Visitors can also enjoy a Philly Cheesesteak in one of the city’s five tree-lined public squares. Some of the most walkable neighborhoods in Philadelphia include Rittenhouse Square, Center City West, and the Avenue of the Arts South.
Often overlooked by its more famous neighbor across the Bay, Oakland offers relaxing waterfront bars, exciting Jack London Square, and the Grand Lake Theatre, all within walking distance. And, as an added bonus, most goods and services are considerably less expensive than in San Francisco.
Oakland officials have recently created “Slow Streets” to increase pedestrian access to the city’s main attractions. There are a plethora of walkable neighborhoods in Oakland, including Downtown, Civic Center, Chinatown, Lakeside, Waverly, Old City, Temescal, Koreatown, Northgate, and the San Pablo Gateway,
Newark, New Jersey
The 26-square mile city of Newark has plenty of parks, art galleries, and historic sites. The Brick City’s easily walkable Central Business District gives visitors the opportunity to examine 19th-century brownstones in the James Street Commons District and listen to the talented musicians at Newark’s Symphony Hall. You’ll also find museums, parks, and universities within walking distance.
The most walkable areas include University Heights, North Ironbound, and the Central Business District. You can easily get to New York City from Newark’s Penn Station.
The original city planners designed Miami to be as walkable as possible, and the warm weather allows you to walk the city all year round. Visitors can put their toes in the sand on South Beach, enjoy the colorful street art, and take in the majestic Art Deco Architecture. The Calle Ocho area is perfect for strolling from club to club.
Miami’s convenient Metrorail and Metrobus will shuttle you between the most walkable neighborhoods, such as Downtown, Little Havana, and Wynwood-Edgewater. Hialeah, a suburb of Miami, also ranks highly on Walk Score’s list. While you’re there, check out Semolina City, Trojan Park, and the Palmetto I-75 Industrial Center.
The District of Columbia has so much to offer for people who like to walk. Most visitors start at the National Mall, exploring the Lincoln Memorial and U.S. Capitol before moving on to the nearby White House and National Zoo.
In Dupont Circle, visitors can get an idea of what life may have been like during the Civil War era. Georgetown is another popular walkable neighborhood with its cobblestone sidewalks and seasonal cherry blossoms.
U-Street and Mount Vernon Square also make perfect spots for exploring the nation’s capital on foot. If all of that doesn’t quench your thirst for walking, head three miles away to Arlington, Virginia, “America’s Most Walkable Suburb.”
The third-largest city in the United States, Chicago offers ample opportunities for walking, including over 500 city parks. Most of the Windy City’s major museums, music venues, and sports stadiums lie within walking distance. Chicago also has excellent public transportation, and local officials strive to improve its walkability score by repairing and improving the city’s sidewalks.
In addition to the beaches of Lake Michigan, the Windy City has walking trails along the river for incredible views and Instagram photos. You can also get some exercise while browsing the shops along North Michigan Avenue, nicknamed the Magnificent Mile. Another popular walkable area, the Ukrainian Village, is dog-friendly and holds colorful farmers’ markets each weekend.
The best neighborhoods for walking in Chicago include the Near North Side, West Loop, Wrigleyville, Navy Pier, and the Ukrainian Village.
The entire city of Boston is relatively small, and the downtown area is especially walkable. The City on a Hill is rich in historical sites, including colonial parks, architecture, and narrow cobblestone roads.
Visitors love to walk along the Freedom Trail, visit the Boston Commons, and explore the Museum of Fine Arts. The city also provides bike trails and decent public transport if you get tired or caught in bad weather. Boston’s most-walkable areas include Bay Village, the North End, Beacon Hill, and the Leather District.
New York, New York
New York has earned second place in our list of the most walkable cities in the U.S. Manhattan and Central Park alone offer more exciting sites and activities than many entire cities do. The bar-hopping scene in Williamsburg in Brooklyn remains a favorite walkable activity among locals and tourists alike.
Additionally, New York has installed walkways along the waterfront and provides bike lanes and excellent public transportation. You can taxi, bike, or take public transport between neighborhoods and walk all day exploring what each area has to offer.
The West Village, The Bowery, Little Italy, Nolita, Union Square, and the Flatiron District rank among the Big Apple’s most walkable neighborhoods.
San Francisco, California
You’re probably wondering why we would pick a city with so many hills for our number one spot of walkable cities. For one thing, walking hills offers incredible views, and hiking up and down slopes is excellent for strengthening the leg muscles. Furthermore, who hasn’t dreamt of strolling across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge?
One of the most pleasant walks in the city is along the beach all the way from the Presidio through Fisherman’s Wharf to the Embarcadero. Then, head up Mission Street through the downtown area. Another favorite route is through hippie haven Haight Ashbury to Golden Gate Park, where you can spend an entire day exploring its museums and stunning Japanese Garden.
When you get tired of walking, you can hop on a cable car, MUNI bus, or the BART train. Some of San Francisco’s best areas for walking include Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, and the parks at the Presidio and Land’s End.
Most Walkable Cities – Final Thoughts
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