10 Urban Walks Across America

Aug 2014

One of the first things I try to do when I find myself in a new city, is to locate a map and ferret out a walk to stretch my legs and get acquainted. Cities around the world are becoming more and more oriented to experiential travel, and getting to know your new surroundings will lead to great discoveries. These urban walks across America will take you from the quaint, to the pastoral and all are memorable.

boston harbor walk america city

Of course, I have to begin with two of my favorites in my hometown of Boston. Winding through the city’s waterfront neighborhoods, the design of the HarborWalk allows the public to connect with the cleaned and restored Boston Harbor. The section in South Boston and Fort Point Channel takes you along some of the city’s best views of sparkling high rises, as well as plenty of good restaurants to stop in. Take time to people watch and grab a bite. Their interactive map shows the visitor just where they can connect to it.

walks across America

Love history?  Then don’t miss at least part of The Freedom Trail. Two and a half miles of 16 sites, steeped in history, make up Boston’s version of the Yellow Brick Road.  This time, the brown bricks start at the Boston Common, and lead you past the gold-domed State House, built in 1798, where the government now conducts its daily business. You’ll encounter period dressed characters along the way who put a fun spin on the activity, and you can either map out your own itinerary, or take a guided tour.  The 2.5 miles takes you on a winding outdoor museum ending at the U.S.S. Constitution.

Casa_Rio_in_San_AntonioThe famous River Walk in San Antonio runs along what is actually a channel of the San Antonio River. It’s a wonderful promenade  set below street level, so much of the hustle and bustle disappears and you can enjoy the cafes and and cypress trees lining the walkways. At one of the stairway exits you’ll be rewarded with the oldest standing church building in Texas. Photo via Daniel Simanek.

walks across america

A wonderful place to be outside is the Seattle Olympic Sculpture Park offering large and interesting works of art surrounded by native landscaping and sweeping views of Elliot Bay. Also great at sunset, dozens of red metal chairs are lined up facing the bay for you to enjoy a prime seat.  They even have a trendy little snack cafe in case you need a bite to eat while admiring all the artwork.  Photo via Joe Mabel.

south beach walk america

Miami’s South Beach area is well known for the pounding nightlife, but I found it also the perfect spot to stretch my legs in the morning before it gets too hot and starts rocking.  Pedestrian friendly walkways go on for miles and better yet, you can head out to the sand for a stroll at ocean’s edge. Photo via Chensiyuan

walk across AmericaThe Chicago Lakefront Trail is an 18 mile path running along Lake Michigan.  Residents keep it especially busy in the summer and traveling along will give you a great overview of one of America’s most walkable cities.   Photo via Alan Scott Walker

High_Line_20th_Street_looking_downtownThe High Line Park in NYC has to be one of the most successful urban renewal stories in US park history.  Inspired by the Promenade Plantee in Paris, this one mile section of an old central railroad section has been transformed into an aerial oasis of flowers and grasses. The third section is scheduled to open this fall.  Photo via Beyond My Ken


Walking across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge will undoubtedly give you a much different experience then driving the distance. Since I freaked out behind the wheel while crossing the bridge, I am hoping that is indeed  the case when I get to cross it in the spring next year.  I am daydreaming it will be a clear day and the views will be magnificent.  Photo via Rich Niewiroski Jr.

Washington-DC-mallFinally, Washington DC’s National Mall is a two mile stretch lined with statues, monuments and historic landmarks. Each destination along the route has a moment frozen in time. Abraham Lincoln resides inside a structure echoing a Greek temple and stands 60 feet tall. Martin Luther King delivered his I have a Dream speech from its steps. People walk, sit by the fountains and picnic on the grassy public area . There is also a trail leading to the Theodore Roosevelt Island, where a nature preserve leads to trails and boardwalks, appropriate as this president was a leader in establishing the National Parks service and Green Space around the country as we know it today.

These are just a small sampling of the great walks available across the cities of America.  I’d love to hear of any great walks you have taken around the country.


  1. Dana Newman says:

    Some great recommendations here! I’m a big “walker,” so for me living somewhere with pedestrian access is important. I live in Europe now and LOVE the urban walk through Prague, but I have friends in Fort Collins, CO, and that’s also a really walkable city.

  2. Great post! Boston is very walkable, and we loved The River Walk in San Antonio. Must say, we enjoyed renting bikes to see the mall in DC because we could see so much more in a day.

  3. Anne says:

    What a wonderful collection of walks! We’ve enjoyed several, and have put your other suggestions on our list – thanks!

  4. I definitely like to walk a city so I can get to know it on a more intimate level. The High Line was a nice surprise in NYC, but I didn’t even know you could walk the Golden Gate Bridge.
    (My other thing is that I like to get up high like up the Empire State, or other tall observation sites, to get a vantage point that puts neighbourhoods in perspective for me.)

  5. I love this post! You’ve captured many of the walks I’d planned to do in the US and put them all in one handy place. So far, I’ve only walked Miami’s South Beach but def want to try San Antonio and NYC one day soon.

  6. Donna Janke says:

    Great collection of walks. I’ve done the Boston HarborWalk and the River Walk in San Antoine. I enjoyed both. I haven’t done the others. I wish you luck on Golden Gate Bridge. I wouldn’t want to walk across it myself. I think I’ll stick to the vehicle.

  7. noel says:

    I’m dying to do the Highland walk in New York some day, great urban walks that you have shared, enjoyed the post

  8. We liked the Harbor Walk more than the Freedom Trail, but only just a bit. Beantown is so walkable, isn’t it? Will have to look forward to the High Line in NYC, too. Super list.

    • alison says:

      Betsy, I think I’m with you on the Harbor Walk, but for history buffs the Freedom Trail can’t be beat. Thanks for stopping by-maybe we’ll meet on the High Line one day.

  9. You’ve included a few of my favorites, too!

  10. Larissa says:

    Some great suggestions, here–thanks! I’d also like to recommend walking around historic Philadelphia.

    • alison says:

      Great suggestion Larissa. I love Philly and didn’t have the chance to walk anywhere but the city streets during my last visit. I know the city is very “green” and must have some terrific walk.

  11. Shelley says:

    I love walking as the best way to get to know a city – great suggestions! A place for a walk with the best view of the Detroit skyline is actually in Windsor, Ontario. They have a sculpture walk similar to the one you describe in Seattle, and it’s right across the river from downtown Detroit.

  12. Excellent suggestions all. Personally, I really enjoyed the High Line Park in NYC a few years back soon after it opened. Sounds like I need to go back and see the new extensions.

  13. The Freedom Trail was so interesting as a history buff. Now you’ve shown me some new trails that are Bucket List Worthy places to go. Love all the colorful photos that took me on the trail with you.

  14. Erin says:

    Think Ive done half of these, which is pretty good since I’m not an American haha. Great list.

  15. What a lovely collection of walks – I particularly like the sound of the first three, especially the River Walk, and The High Line Park in NYC is such a brilliant idea – hope to make it there one day.

  16. Alison,

    Another lovely post, and as I didn’t sleep very well last night, (feeding a 1 week old kitten) – I read your introduction a bit strangely. Albeit it did amuse me momentarily, until I realised how wrong I was.

    “locate a map and ferret” – I thought you actually went looking for a ferret (animal) …for about 1 second or so 🙂

    I adore the fact that experiential travel is so much on the rise. Like yourself, I love to walk, and cycle sometimes, and it’s a great way to absorb cities, towns, villages and rural locations.


  17. I like the sound of the river walk in San Antonio, and the idea of walking across the Golden Gate Bridge in SF… how long would that take/how far is it?