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Most Walkable Cities

March 28th, 2016 - 10:26 AM

The Best Cities for Walking

If you love stretching your legs and going for a walk, there are plenty of places around the country that would be ideal for you to call home. Whether you like doing the majority of your transportation on foot, enjoy urban hiking and beautiful walking trails or exploring downtown at a leisurely stroll – we've covered each one of these categories so you can find the best walkable city for you!

most walkable cities

Top Walkable Cities

A walkable city is defined as somewhere with access by foot to public transportation, restaurants, entertainment options and more. Since walking is healthy and better for the environment than driving a vehicle, walkable cities are perfect for people and the planet. If you're dreaming of moving somewhere where you can walk just about everywhere, check out these cities that are the most walkable.

  • New York, NY ­– If you’ve ever visited the Big Apple, then the top spot on this list comes as no surprise. You can walk anywhere in NYC, and most locals get by without even owning a car.
  • San Francisco, CA – The Golden Gate City is full of very walkable neighborhoods including North Beach, Union Square, and Chinatown. You can get out and explore every area of the city on foot.
  • Boston, MABeantown has lots of historic sites to be seen on the Freedom Trail, Heritage Trail, and JFK trail. Most of the local sports arenas are also located on the Boston Sports Trail.
  • Philadelphia, PA – Whether you’re searching for a good cheesesteak or an art museum, you can definitely explore Philly’s Rittenhouse Square and Avenue of the Arts by walking.
  • Miami, FLThere’s more to Miami than just walks on the beach! Nightlife and restaurants are also within walking distance of several neighborhoods, so you won’t have to find a driver or a cab at the end of a fun night.

Best Cities for Urban Hiking

Urban hiking is quite different from wilderness hiking. Instead of trekking through the mountains, you're exploring a town's stairways, hills, and trails. And the best part? You're never far from supplies and facilities. While you can "urban hike" in just about any city, here are a few that are notable for great urban hiking.

  • Grand Rounds in Minneapolis, MN – This 50-mile trail is a series of linked parks that provide a beautiful getaway in the middle of the city. There are paths for both pedestrians and bicycles throughout the system.
  • Los Angeles, CA – This city was popularized as an urban hiking destination by an article in Backpacker Magazine where the author described touring the steps and hillsides around the city. In fact, an annual event called The Big Parade takes you around 17 miles and almost 100 staircases across L.A.
  • Phoenix, AZ – If you don’t have time to drive out into the desert for the trails and parks, there are plenty of places to explore within the city. Take the 1.5 mile downtown walking tour with a guide from the Historic Preservation Office or explore South Mountain Park. This park is the largest city park in the country with over 58 miles of trails.
  • Pacific Heights, CA – This neighborhood in San Francisco boasts beautiful views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz. Explore Billionaire’s Row on Broadway and check out some of the biggest mansions and best views in the area.
  • Seward Park in Seattle, WA – In this 300-acre park, you can explore eagles' nests, beaches, an art studio and a native plant garden. Both visitors and locals alike enjoy spending the day soaking up the scenery.

Cities with the Best Walking Trails

Even in places where you need a car to get around, it can be fun to go for a long walk. These cities offer beautiful walking trails that serve as an oasis from the mundane.

  • Austin, TXAustin is surrounded by great parks, many of which have trails for walking, running and biking. Town Lake offers a mostly flat, wide trail with views of the lake and the skyline. The Barton Creek Greenbelt trail is ranked the 7th best hiking trail in Texas and is relatively rugged, with a more natural terrain.
  • Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers-Bentonville, AR – These four cities are connected by the Northwest Arkansas Trails, which span over 37 miles to Bella Vista, AR. Sometimes the trails are more secluded and wooded, and other times they are in the midst of the urban activity. It's a great way to see the area on foot!
  • Washington, D.C. – Explore our nation’s capital on foot! There are walking trails in just about every area of town. Visit the Capital Crescent Trail going from Silver Spring, MD, and into historic Georgetown or the Fort Circle Park Trail, which covers the forested area from Fort Mahan to Fort Stanton, linking several Civil War era forts and national parks.
  • Tucson, AZ – One of the highlights of the area is the 55-mile trail called "The Loop." It connects several communities and is ideal for walking, skating, biking, and even horseback riding!
  • San Jose, CA – Along the banks of the Guadalupe River you’ll find 11 miles of paved pedestrian and bike paths. They’re working on connecting this trail to the rest of the region’s trail network, which will end up connecting San Francisco Bay to San Jose.

Most Walkable Downtown Areas

Sometimes you just want to spend the evening or the day exploring without having to get in and out of your car. These walkable downtown areas give you entertainment, dining, education, and park spaces all within walking distance!

  • Evanston, IL – This Chicago suburb boasts attractions like theaters, music venues, bars, museums, and cafes all within the walkable downtown area. You can choose from relaxed outdoor dining or gourmet five-course meals without having to fight for a parking space.
  • Tulsa, OK – Tulsa’s downtown area covers about 1.5 square miles, making it very easy to walk just about anywhere. You can get from concert venues to bakeries to sporting events easily on foot. There are several green spaces downtown, as well, that are home to events throughout the year, including The Hop Jam, the Blue Dome Arts Festival, and Mayfest.
  • Lincoln, NE – The space between the Nebraska State Capital and the University of Nebraska is packed with businesses and things to do. The Historic Haymarket area houses restaurants, bars, bookstores, and apartments. If you get tired of walking, you can always bike! There are plenty of bike racks that were installed in the 2014 renovations.
  • Fargo, ND –Fargo's walkability does depend on the weather. When it's nice out, you'll find people milling about. Here you'll find the Plains Art Museum, Fargo Theater, street performers, and plenty of restaurants. 
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Salt Lake features one of the most family-friendly downtown areas. You'll find the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum along with outdoor shopping at the City Creek Center (when the weather's nice). If you want to hop on a bike, you can also take advantage of the area bike sharing program.

Which one of these walkable cities is best for you?

After seeing this list, where do you want to move? Are you dreaming of never having to drive a car again in places like New York? Or just want to live somewhere with access to trails like Austin? Do you currently live in a city you’d add to our walkable cities list? We’d love to hear from you! Just leave us a comment below.