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With more people looking to spend as much time outside as possible, walkable destinations are more popular than ever. There are cities across the U.S. that are ideal for exploring on foot and seeing the sights at your own pace while staying safe. Here are some suggestions for walkable American cities to help you plan your next trip.
Charleston is a very walkable city where you can learn about the city’s top attractions, historic landmarks and pre-Civil-War-era architecture while strolling along cobblestone streets. Start your walk at The Battery, pass through Washington Square, which is the oldest public park in town, and end on Upper King Street for a walk just under two miles and that takes about an hour. When you go south on Meeting Street, you’ll see the 16th century St. Michael’s Church and then the mansions before hitting Rainbow Row. It’s fun to stop by the historic Charleston City Market for a few souvenirs and then end up at the boutique shops and restaurants on King Street. HarbourView Inn, Spectator Hotel and French Quarter Inn are top places to stay when you’re done walking.
Lexington is a wonderful place to plan a walking-focused vacation because of its famous horse farms and many historic sites. The city also has more than 120 locally-owned restaurants and 14 of Kentucky’s largest bourbon distilleries to enjoy for your dining and drinking pleasure. One great walking route is a little over a mile and takes less than half an hour to complete. It starts at the Courthouse Square and ends at Lexington Cemetery, which is a nationally recognized arboretum. You’ll see over 30 street art installations that are part of the VisitLEX’s Mural Challenge, see the Mary Todd Lincoln House, and end up at Justins’ House of Bourbon down the street on this route. Stella’s Kentucky Deli is a great place to grab a bite when you’re done, and the 21c Museum Hotel Lexington is a stylish boutique hotel and contemporary art museum to call your home base.
The eastern U.S. has some excellent walkable cities, including Philadelphia. You can check out Independence Hall when you start walking near the Delaware River Harbor and then see the shops and cafes down Market Street. On this walk that’s just under three miles, you can see Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia City Hall, and Love Park. The route ends with a stroll through the beautiful University of Pennsylvania campus. Nearby is The Study at University City, a contemporary hotel with a focus on the arts. It even has its very own art gallery.
For a walkable staycation in the Chicago suburbs, choose Lake Forest, a small town with lots of charm. From here, you can see views of Lake Michigan and start your mile-long walk to Market Square. There are lots of shops in the area, including the popular Lake Forest Book Store. Other spots to walk to are the 29-acre Forest Park and 16-acre Elawa Farm. Plan to stay at the Tudor manor-style Deer Path Inn that’s close to Market Square for European-style dining and complimentary use of bicycles.
Full of exciting family-friendly attractions, we also love Grand Rapids for a walkable destination. Start your journey at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which is home to dinosaur remains and Native American artifacts. The Gerald Ford Presidential Museum is across the street, and the Ah-Hab-Awen Park is nearby. Continue walking to the historic Gillett Pedestrian Bridge to see the Grand River, and see the original 1913 architecture at the Amway Grand Plaza. This is also an excellent hotel to stay at for a mix of old and new. End your walking tour at the Waters Center to admire the architecture.
There are few places in the world more glamorous to walk around than Beverly Hills! The streets are filled with art and cultural attractions, starting at Beverly Hills City Hall and then moving onto Beverly Gardens Park. Top sights are the 40-foot Beverly Hills sign, Lily Pond, and the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire. A couple of highly recommended places to stay when you visit are the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Beverly Hilton.
Key West is a Florida island that’s seven square miles in size and has very walkable streets. Start at the southernmost point of the continental U.S. and make your way to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Then make a stop at the Blue Heaven restaurant to listen to local musicians play among the roaming roosters. Fort Street is where the Naval Air Station and some lovely homes are located. If you time it right, you can end up at Mallory Square for the sunset and then grab a drink on Duval Street. There are tons of beachfront hotels to choose from, but for a glamorous getaway book a room at the historic Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort.
Washington, D.C. is a city best explored on foot, starting with the Albert Einstein statue off Constitution Avenue. Head to the Lincoln Memorial and then the reflecting pool to reach the World War II Memorial and Washington Monument. You can also see the White House on this nearly two-mile walk, then stay overnight at AKA White House that offers suites with live/work spaces for weekly and monthly stays.
The Finger Lakes region of New York is a walkable region thanks to awesome cities like Syracuse and Rochester. There are numerous walking routes here to see historic landmarks and enjoy the natural terrain. The Onondaga Creekwalk in Syracuse is a 2.6-mile journey from Armory Square to Downtown Syracuse. Ithaca has great hiking trails that lead to waterfalls, there’s the “Rochester Walks!” Initiative for historic routes, and also the 100-mile Erie Canal for walking and biking trails. Hotel Skyler, La Tourelle Resort & Spa, and The Strathallan are top places to stay in the region.
If you enjoy being on your feet, you’ll also enjoy hanging out in Fort Lauderdale. On a route just under a mile and a half, you can check out the beach boardwalk that’s nicknamed the Venice of South Florida. This sidewalk is lined with bars and restaurants and the beach on and water on the other side. Start your walk at the Beach Park and head north to Las Olas to snap a pic with a sandy snowman. There are opportunities to collect seashells along your walk as you head up to the 5th-floor SKY Bar at The Atlantic for cocktails with ocean views. The Atlantic Hotel & Spa is a great extended-stay hotel to be in, while the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach offers suites for extra space and lots of amenities.
You’ll love walking around the Waikiki area when you’re in the Hawaiian Islands to experience its natural beauty. In fact, you can walk from one end of the beach to the other for an awesome walk. Start at the Duke Paoa Kahanamoku statue that commemorates the father of modern surfing, and then soak up some sunshine on your way to Fort Debussy Beach Park. Kahanamoku Beach is a lovely place to watch the sunset, and Merriman’s Honolulu serves up tasty regional cuisine. For accommodations, take your pick between the retro Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club and the luxury boutique hotel of ESPACIO, The Jewel of Waikiki.
Many people think the Dallas/Fort Worth area is all about driving, but you can get a walking trip in when you visit the famous Stockyards. For a route that’s a little over a mile long and takes less than 30 minutes to walk, explore the Historic Stockyards District for Wild West fun that features the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive. Begin your walk at East Exchange Avenue and then go along North Main Street to browse M.L. Leddy’s cowboy boots. Going south, Joe T. Garcia’s is a great place for margaritas on the patio. Head back to East Exchange Avenue for a Texas brasserie-style meal at rising star chef Marcus Paslay’s Provender Hall. To be near the Stockyards, stay at the Hyatt Place Fort Worth Historic Stockyards, while The Sinclair is a high-tech downtown hotel that’s great for exploring more of the city.
Experience the adventurous Appalachian spirit and musical soul of Virginia when you plan a walking trip in Bristol. The city is known as the birthplace of country music, and a great walking route starts at the historic Bristol Train Station established in 1902. Go towards the Bristol sign to snap a pic and then go west on State Street to see the historic landmark of the Paramount Theatre where country music stars in the 1920s used to hang out. There are also great restaurants, breweries, and antique shops in this area. The Burger Bar was the last place Hank Williams Sr. was seen before his death. For a trip that is about a mile and takes 20 minutes on foot (without stops, of course), end at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum to learn some local history. Keep that history going with a stay at the 1925-architectural landmark of The Bristol Hotel that’s adjacent to the museum.
Another very walkable city is St. Petersburg, Florida, where you can begin your walk with something sweet from Sweet Divas Chocolates and then head to the St. Pete Pier. This newly renovated pier spans 26 acres out into the Tampa Bay and features art installations, green space, and outdoor dining. Definitely check out the Dali Museum to learn about this surrealist genius if you can because it has reopened with new safety measures. While walking, it’s also fun to check out the many murals around town. You’ll be near all the top attractions of St. Petersburg when you book a room at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club, which has outdoor pools, a luxe spa and multiple eateries.