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The 10 Most Walkable Cities in the U.S.

These are the best cities in the U.S. to vacation on foot. 

Road tripping and car rentals aren’t for everyone. Luckily, some of the most walkable cities in the U.S. also happen to be world-class destinations. From wandering up and down the hills of San Francisco to circling Washington, D.C.’s cherry blossom-dotted Tidal Basin, you can easily see many of America’s best destinations on foot. Below are the top walkable cities in the U.S., along with the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in each one, as determined by Walk Score.

Want a global version of this list? See The World’s 12 Most Walkable Cities.

10. Long Beach, California

long beach pier

Long Beach may seem like a surprising entrant on the list of the most walkable cities in the U.S., given how necessary a car is in nearby Los Angeles. But this laid-back coastal city has a compact downtown core where you can walk easily to restaurants, the historic Queen Mary ship, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and the beach.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Downtown, Saint Mary, and Franklin School.

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9. Oakland, California

oakland waterfront at night.

San Francisco’s oft-overlooked little sibling, Oakland is the perfect Bay Area alternative to the pricey City by the Bay. A bustling waterfront bar scene and diverse historic neighborhoods make picturesque spots like Grand Lake Theatre and Jack London Square worth a visit. Sip slowly on an outdoor patio or head to Redwood Regional Park, which is accessible by public transit.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Downtown, Koreatown-Northgate, and Temescal.

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8. Seattle, Washington

seattle square with trees.

Seattle offers both downtown sheen and adventure-packed outskirts. See the Space Needle and skyline from Kerry Park before you hop a bus downtown to peer the opposite way from the skyscraper’s 50th floor. The Space Needle is part of Seattle Center, a walkable area that includes Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Pacific Science Center, and the Museum of Pop Culture. Another great place to walk is along the waterfront.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Downtown, Pioneer Square, and First Hill.

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7. Washington, D.C.

washington monument with cherry blossoms tidal basin.

The best place to start exploring Washington, D.C. on foot is at the sprawling National Mall, which runs from the U.S. Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial and has enough attractions to keep you busy for days. But the city has plenty of other neighborhoods worth a wander, including Dupont Circle with its vibrant shops and galleries, and Georgetown with its historic cobblestone sidewalks.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Dupont Circle, U. Street, and Downtown-Penn Quarter-Chinatown.

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6. Chicago, Illinois

chicago waterfront father carrying child.

The Windy City’s towering skyline, eclectic neighborhoods, and urban Lake Michigan beaches make it a young and vibrant destination that draws hordes as soon as it warms up each summer. Chicago’s museums and culinary scene make it worthwhile in the winter, too, but music, comedy, sports, and food festivals from spring through fall are all comfortably accessible by foot or public transit. Pedestrian trails along the river and the lake offer some of the city’s best waterfront views.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Near North Side, West Loop, and East Ukrainian Village.

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5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

philadelphia love park.

Get in touch with American history at the Liberty Bell, eat authentic cheesesteaks and hoagies, and stumble upon public art and festivals in the first American city to be designated as a World Heritage City by UNESCO. Philadelphia is almost entirely walkable and outdoor-friendly, with historic districts full of cobblestone streets and more than 10,000 acres of public green space to be explored across the city.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Center City West, Avenue of the Arts South, and Rittenhouse Square.

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4. Miami, Florida

miami couple walking under palm trees.

From South Beach relaxation to street art walks and Little Havana, Miami is best explored on foot to get a feel for its colorful neighborhoods and friendly locals. Leisurely lying on the beach, learning about art deco architecture from the sidewalk, and strolling brightly lit Calle Ocho at night are all easily within reach of downtown.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Downtown, Wynwood-Edgewater, and Little Havana.

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3. Boston, Massachusetts

boston back bay brownstones.

Boston is the smallest of the top five best walking cities in the U.S., which means its downtown core can be almost entirely walked if you’re up for it. Narrow cobblestone roads and picturesque parks dating back to colonial times make this charming utopia perfect for strolling—and the famed Freedom Trail is one of the country’s most popular walks.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Chinatown – Leather District, North End, and Bay Village.

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2. San Francisco, California

couple looking at golden gate bridge san francisco.

While the hills might tire you out a bit, San Francisco is the second most walkable city in the U.S., and remember—the higher the hill, the better the bay views. (Fortunately, there are also plenty of bike and Segway tours to take advantage of once your legs are worn out.) You can stroll the colorful streets of Chinatown, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, or explore green spaces like the Presidio and Lands End.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Chinatown, Downtown-Union Square, and Lower Nob Hill.

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1. New York, New York

central park new york city.

Manhattan and greater New York City are, of course, home to the biggest rapid transit system in the United States—the MTA—and without a doubt the best place to visit sans wheels. Having a car here might very well cost you as much as your accommodation, so instead wander through Central Park, take a walking food tour, or simply pick one of these Manhattan neighborhoods and let yourself get lost.

Most Walkable Neighborhoods: Little Italy, NoHo, and NoLita.

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Shannon McMahon aims to never own a car and see every major American city. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

By Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider, blog.TripAdvisor.com, Boston.com, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC, People.com, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

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Email Shannon at smcmahon@smartertravel.com.

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