As a big fan of city exploration, I enjoy strapping on a good pair of walking shoes and getting lost in an urban jungle. But not all cities are built equal, particularly when it comes to something called walkability.
As we all strive for a greener world, towns and cities around the globe are doing their bit by improving walkways, bike lanes, public transport, and pedestrianized zones. Some are leading the way, while others leave much to be desired.
This article explores the former category and highlights the most walkable cities in the US. We’ve used Walk Score for the data, a website that analyses a location’s walkability, awarding it a numerical score based on pedestrian features, safety, and access. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center is also a useful resource.
We should all be doing our bit to lower our carbon footprint, help the environment, and stay healthy at the same time. So, whether you’re a seasoned urban explorer, a city day-tripper, or simply out to stretch your legs, this guide will tell you the best walkable cities in the States.
What We Cover
- Most Walkable Cities to Visit in the United States
- 1. San Francisco, California
- 2. New York City, New York
- 3. Jersey City, New Jersey
- 4. Boston, Massachusetts
- 5. Chicago, Illinois
- 6. Washington D.C.
- 7. Miami, Florida
- 8. Oakland, California
- 9. Seattle, Washington
- 10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 11. Long Beach, California
- 12. St. Augustine, Florida
- 13. Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 14. Arlington, Virginia
- 15. Los Angeles, California
- 16. Portland, Oregon
- 17. St. Louis, Missouri
- 18. Baltimore, Maryland
- 19. Denver, Colorado
- 20. New Orleans, Louisiana
- What are the most pedestrian-friendly states?
- What are the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the US?
- What is the most walkable city in the US?
Most Walkable Cities to Visit in the United States
1. San Francisco, California
- Walk Score: 89
Renowned for its pleasant, sunny disposition, San Francisco boasts an impressive walkability score. Coupled with an eclectic population, it’s the ideal destination for those who love to explore on foot, especially if you enjoy a good walking tour.
From the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to the historic Presidio, each neighborhood offers a unique walking experience. Every turn reveals bustling cafes and colorful storefronts, inviting visitors and locals to get lost in its lively streets.
Despite the challenging inclines of its famous hills, walking around San Francisco is a great way to exercise while enjoying incredible views. Try this popular culinary walking tour of Little Italy and North Beach. You’ll soon burn those calories walking around this town.
2. New York City, New York
- Walk Score: 88
The Big Apple might be one of the world’s largest cities, but it’s possible to live in New York without ever needing to own a vehicle. It’s a walker’s paradise, with many of the main tourist attractions within close proximity. Pick up a New York CityPASS for savings on some top sights.
Some of the most walkable neighborhoods include Manhatten, Chinatown, West Village, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Union Square, Hells Kitchen, and Chelsea – to name a few. Our favorite is Williamsburg, which has excellent vintage shops, tattoo parlors, and restaurants.
New York is also known for its excellent public transportation system with a transit score of 89. You’re never too far from a subway or bus line, so if you want to go further afield – or get somewhere faster – the options are there.
3. Jersey City, New Jersey
- Walk Score: 87
Sitting on the Hudson River, Jersey City is one of the most popular places to live and visit in the NYC metropolitan area. The second-largest city in New Jersey, it also boasts impressive stats for getting around on two feet.
The most walking-friendly areas include the historic downtown, Journal Square, and McGinley Square. Excellent public transit links ensure you can get around easily, with the PATH train providing access to Newark, Hoboken, Lower, and Midtown Manhattan.
There are many things to do in Jersey City, from exploring the Liberty State Park to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. This entry ticket with return ferry grants you access to the Statue of Liberty and museums. While this Jersey City food tour is a great way to explore the area while sampling some of its famously diverse gastronomy.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
- Walk Score: 83
One of Boston’s many nicknames happens to be “The Walking City.” This is attributed to the fact that it has a high population density and compact design. Public transport is excellent, too, so getting around is almost effortless.
Up there with my favorite cities to walk around, one of the best things to do in Boston is to stroll the Freedom Trail. A world-class tourist attraction, it follows a designated path around Boston’s many historic sights and points of interest.
Visitors enjoy walking the North End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and Bay Village neighborhoods, where you can enjoy historic cobblestone sidewalks, tree-lined streets, and preserved red-brick homes. For some intellectual stimulation, try this Havard walking tour that a current student leads.
5. Chicago, Illinois
- Walk Score: 77
The Windy City boasts pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods, world-class attractions, busy corner bars, and even urban Lake Michigan beaches, all within walking distance. It also has a solid bike score of 72, so it’s almost as good on two wheels as it is on two feet.
Key walkable areas include Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, the East Ukrainian Village, the West Loop, and the downtown area. Millenium Park and the Cloud Gate are also a joy to walk around – particularly in summer.
The Lakefront Trail is as popular for walkers as it is for cyclists, skateboarders, and rollerblades. But in Al Capone’s old stomping ground, your best bet is to do a gangsters and ghosts walking tour.
6. Washington D.C.
- Walk Score: 77
Washington, D.C. is full of amazing sites you can see on foot. I found one of the best ways to do it was at night, with all the monuments and memorials lit up. This after-dark ghost walking tour is another great option for walking the nation’s capital.
Many of the most notable sights are found within a short distance of each other at the National Mall. From the White House to the Washington Monument.
From the Lincoln Memorial to Capitol Hill. You don’t need a vehicle to see any of it.
Stop by U-Street, Dupont Circle, and Mount Vernon Square. You can even stroll into the Carnegie Library building. And don’t miss Georgetown, a charming old neighborhood that sits right on the waterfront.
See Related: Day Trips from Washington D.C. By Train
7. Miami, Florida
- Walk Score: 77
Perhaps surprisingly, Miami is considered a very walkable city, as the mayor closes main roads every month for use by walkers, cyclists, and rollerbladers. With almost perfect weather for much of the year, being outside is a rather pleasant experience.
Popular areas include the legendary beaches, the downtown area, Coral Gables, and Midtown. Wynwood is very walkable and is an open-air art gallery with stunning graffiti, unique shops, and funky bars. This Wynwood Walls ticket will help you skip the line to this famous outdoor museum.
Foodies will not want to miss this Little Havana walking tour, which highlights the culinary delights of this vibrant city in one of its best neighborhoods. For more information, take a look at this article which asks do you need a rental car in Miami.
8. Oakland, California
- Walk Score: 75
Across the bay from San Francisco, Oakland is often wrongfully overlooked in favor of its more popular neighbor. But this is a fun, vibrant, diverse city that deserves a look in its own right. And you don’t need a rental car to do it.
Oakland is alive with art, music, and culinary delights. Stroll around its old-world Victorian architecture. Rub shoulders with a young local crowd at Jack London Square.
And enjoy the parks, great restaurants, and walkable neighborhoods that surround Lake Merrit. This tidal lagoon also offers some exquisite birdwatching, so pack your binoculars.
To immerse yourself in Oakland’s diverse culture, try this black food tour, which takes in some of the city’s best black-owned restaurants and eateries. Go here for more information on the best things to do in Oakland.
9. Seattle, Washington
- Walk Score: 74
The Emerald City is famous for its lush greenery and has rapidly become one of the world’s premier tech hubs. It’s been attracting a young, hip crowd for years, not least because it’s a great place to live with easy citywide access.
This city offers some awe-inspiring walkable sights, from the legendary Pike Place Market to the iconic Space Needle. The downtown area, Lower Queen Ann neighborhood, Belltown, and the waterfront are all easily navigable on foot. But that’s just scratching the surface.
With a solid transit score and bike score, Seattle is certainly moving in the right direction when it comes to green travel. Residents and visitors alike can ditch their cars for a day and enjoy the best things to do in Seattle.
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Walk Score: 75
Thanks to its easily navigable grid system, Philly is one of the most walkable cities in the US. It’s also one of the most historic destinations in the States, with attractions like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall a stone’s throw apart.
Walkable locations include Franklin Square, Reading Terminal Market, Rittenhouse Square, Washington Square West, and Elfreth’s Alley. The latter is the oldest continuously inhabited street in America and is a wonderful place for window shopping.
Don’t miss this historic walking tour which takes in all the city’s most famous sights on foot. Grab yourself a legendary cheese steak on a Flavors of Philly tour. And enjoy a stroll around Bella Vista for its many shops, boutiques, and restaurants.
11. Long Beach, California
It might not be the most walkable city in the United States, but it is possible to get around without a car in Los Angeles. Within its wider metropolitan area, the coastal city of Long Beach is the best for pedestrians. It also boasts an excellent bike score, although its transit score could be better.
Bike tracks and bus lines offer an alternative way to tour Long Beach, as residents and visitors enjoy walking through this seaside destination. Young adults prefer sand on Alamitos Bay Beach, whereas families go to Mothers Beach.
The downtown area is also very foot-friendly and offers some great attractions. Go here for a full rundown of the best things to do in Long Beach on your next trip to Southern California.
12. St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States and – likely as a result – one of the most haunted locations in Florida. It features a historic downtown with shops and attractions you can easily walk through, while the warm climate ensures it’s a great city to visit year-round.
This walking tour of the historic district is a popular activity when visiting these parts. Don’t miss a visit to the Castillo De San Marcos – a stunning 17th-century fort on the western shore of Matanzas Bay.
Stay at the legendary Casa Monica Hotel, which dates back to 1888, and has a rich and storied past. Enjoy the historic cobblestone sidewalks and Spanish architecture. And the iconic Augustine Lighthouse is unmissable. Literally.
13. Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Walk Score: 71
The land of 10,000 lakes is a hiker’s dream, but the big city is surprisingly navigable on foot, too. Downtown Minneapolis has several walkable neighborhoods, some with interconnected skyways for shelter during the colder months.
Try the North Loop, Eat Street, Uptown, Northeast, and St. Anthony Main. Most people enjoy the Lowry Hill East neighborhood, which features top eateries and bars.
Minneapolis boasts an excellent bike score, and the Chain of Lakes is linked with around 35 miles of bike lanes and paths, perfect for hiking and biking the region. For more info, try this article on the best hikes near Minneapolis.
See Related: The Ultimate Guide to Minneapolis Nightlife
14. Arlington, Virginia
Arlington, Virginia, is a great tourist spot for those who want to see a lot of important US national landmarks on foot. Most errands can be accomplished without the use of a car.
Many of the city’s best attractions are within walking distance, and several museums and parks offer easy access for pedestrians. Walkable neighborhoods include Ballston – Virginia Square, Clarendon – Courthouse, and Lyon Village.
The must-visit attraction is Arlington Cemetary, which is an emotive walking experience in its own right. I highly recommend this walking tour for getting the most out of your visit with a knowledgeable guide.
15. Los Angeles, California
- Walk Score: 69
LA is known for being notoriously car-dependent, but the revitalization of Tinseltown is part of an effort aimed at improving the city’s walkability. The Walk of Fame is just one of many places you can comfortably walk around.
Downtown, MacArthur Park, and Central Hollywood are the best neighborhoods to explore on foot. Each offers plenty of things to do, from outdoor activities to museums and restaurants. Downtown is especially lively at night, with live music venues and plenty of places to grab a bite or a drink.
MacArthur Park is an oasis in the middle of the city, featuring lush gardens, lakes, playgrounds, and walking trails. A little further afield, you can enjoy this Hollywood sign walking tour to visit one of the most iconic landmarks in the US.
16. Portland, Oregon
- Walk Score: 67
With a lively downtown area, young crowd, and extensive green space, Portland offers much to the visitor. It’s also one of the most walkable cities on the West Coast, with a high bike score and decent public transit setup.
Some of this unique city’s most foot-friendly neighborhoods include Pearl, Chinatown, Downtown, and Hollywood. Pearl, in particular, is wonderful for exploring by hiking or biking. Try this Eastside craft brewery walking tour which takes in some of the area’s best brews.
17. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is next on the list of most walkable cities in the US. Home of the iconic St. Louis arch, several neighborhoods in the city boast a high walk score.
St. Louis Arch is an incredible place to tour. There are places to shop at the bottom of the arch. If you dare, take an elevator ride to the top, which offers an incredible view of the cityscape. And don’t miss a visit to the weird and wonderful City Museum.
Laclede’s Landing is another great place to explore on foot. As is the area around Tower Grove Park. These historic districts feature unique shops, notable landmarks, attractive green spaces, and plenty of dining options. Check out our article on the best things to see and do in St. Louis for more information.
18. Baltimore, Maryland
- Walk Score: 64
This revitalized harbor city has been dubbed a town of neighborhoods, and you’ll find plenty of pedestrian-friendly streets within its borders. The city features an abundance of museums, top restaurants, and historic points of interest.
Mount Vernon, Fells Point, and downtown are the best areas for a stroll. This Fells Point walking tour is great for getting to know the neighborhood while sampling local delicacies. Make sure you try Baltimore’s famous crab cakes.
With over 500 acres of greenery, Baltimore is an ideal place for walking. Check out more of the best things to do in Baltimore to make the most of your visit.
19. Denver, Colorado
- Walk Score: 61
According to Smart Growth America’s Foot Traffic Ahead report, Denver is one of the most walkable cities in the country. It’s also one of the best vacation destinations in the US, and thanks to its status as an outdoor capital, there’s so much to see and do here if you live an active lifestyle.
The Golden Triangle Creative District, Union Station North, and Lower Downtown are all perfect places to explore on foot. Stop by Central Station to enjoy the food court and shops. And try this downtown Denver food tour to sample the best eateries in town.
While winter sports are king in Colorado, one of the best things to do in Denver is the Botanic Gardens. It’s a great way to spend some time wandering around, and you can get your entrance ticket here.
20. New Orleans, Louisiana
- Walk Score: 58
- Compact European design
Do you need a rental car in New Orleans? Quite possibly, and while it doesn’t have the best walkability score on our list, the famous French Quarter is easily accessible on foot. Unless you happen to be visiting during Mardi Gras when the streets are so packed you’ll find it hard to go anywhere!
The French Quarter boasts the best sights in the city while being compact enough to walk around. However, many of the streets aren’t in great condition, which I found out the hard way on a recent trip (pun fully intended).
Be sure to visit Jackson Square and take in the hedonistic delights of Bourbon Street. Frenchman Street is famous for its music venues, and don’t miss this fascinating haunted walking tour which brings the city’s history to life.
What are the most pedestrian-friendly states?
Some of the most pedestrian-friendly states in the US include New York, California, and Massachusetts.
What are the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the US?
Some of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the US include Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston.
What is the most walkable city in the US?
At the time of writing, the best walking city in the US is San Francisco, which pips New York by a single point. However, thanks to our ever-changing urban environments, this isn’t set in stone.