These are the most walkable cities in the U.S.

Ditch the car and stroll to cafes and museums

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman
San Francisco and USA contributor
Swan Boat with tourists and foot bridge at the Boston Public Garden on August 20, 2012.
Photograph: Shutterstock

For many, a huge appeal for vacation is the chance to wander around city neighborhoods on foot, having a cup of coffee here, browsing through shop racks there, stopping at a bakery, spending a few hours at a museum or art gallery. Sometimes, these pedestrian zones might even be blocked by car traffic, so you freely ramble without needing to look both ways before crossing. Plus, walking is good for health and less expensive than renting a car. While we often go abroad and are charmed by those cobblestoned streets and medieval passages brimming with shops and eateries, we’re often hard-pressed to find these walkable cities in a landscape dotted with strip malls, where “Main Street” is often shuttered. (And while Europe and other parts of the world are covered in rails, making it possible to ditch a car and move about freely via train, our rail system is not yet that comprehensive). But fear not, there are plenty of U.S. cities where pleasant strolling can still happen, according to Smart Growth America and its 2023 Foot Traffic Ahead Report. This study looked at the 35 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. and ranked them for their walkability.

Surprising no one, New York is the most walkable city. Exploring Manhattan’s neighborhoods, each with a different vibe, featuring an incredible variety of cuisines (including award-winning pizzerias), is a great way to spend a day—and Central Park even lets you do it in calm, serene surroundings. With waterfront access to the Hudson River, wild and beautiful skyscrapers, and the ability to walk to the most vibrant collection of theaters on Broadway, New York is a walker’s dream.

Coming in second is Boston, which also rewards the walker with views of historic brick buildings and restaurants with great, fresh seafood. Its Freedom Trail is a wonderful 2.5-mile trek through some of the most important sites in our nation’s history.

And in third place is Washington, D.C., especially fun to walk during cherry blossom time. Walking around Capitol Hill provides a great stroll—and it’s about 2 miles from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. If shopping is in your plans, stop by CityCenterDC, the downtown area with 10 acres of shops, public space, and eateries.

The 20 most walkable cities in the U.S. are:

1. New York
2. Boston
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Seattle
5. Portland
6. San Francisco
7. Chicago
8. Los Angeles
9. Pittsburgh
10. Philadelphia
11. Minneapolis-St. Paul
12. Miami
13. Charlotte
14. Austin
15. Atlanta
16. Denver
17. Cleveland
18. Houston
19. Columbus
20. Baltimore

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