9 of the Most Walkable Cities in America

published Apr 12, 2024
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Square in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey
Credit: Stas Moroz / Shutterstock

Walking is one of the best ways to get around, whether you’re visiting a new destination on vacation or just running errands in your own neighborhood. No sitting in traffic, no road rage, no trying to find a place to park, no carbon emissions — and you get to move your body and enjoy some fresh air.

“You want to be able to get groceries, see friends, go to the doctor, go to work, run errands, and do fun things all within a short distance of your home,” says Alana Lindsay, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Warburg. “That walkability also helps foster community and belonging to an area.”

Fortunately, there are lots of pedestrian-friendly cities scattered throughout the country. For help sleuthing out some of the most walkable cities in America, I turned to Walk Score, which has ranked more than more than 2,800 cities based on their walkability. (Each score is out of 100 total points.) Places that earn a Walk Score of 90-100 are considered a “walker’s paradise,” and you won’t need a car to run daily errands. A location that scores between 70-89 points is considered “very walkable,” and if you live there, most of your daily errands can be done on foot.

San Francisco

Walk Score: 89

Thinking of making a move to the City by the Bay? You can leave your car behind, because you can walk just about everywhere in San Francisco. (The city’s ultra-steep hills are also great for working up a sweat too.) Even though San Francisco already has the highest Walk Score in the nation, community leaders are actively working to make the city even more pedestrian-friendly with initiatives like “Slow Streets,” or designated stretches in mostly residential areas where walkers, bikers, and wheelchair users take priority over cars. 

New York City

Walk Score: 88

No surprise here: The Big Apple is widely considered one of the most walkable cities on the planet. New Yorkers won’t think twice about walking a few miles to their intended destination (and they’ll do so at top speed) — and this ethos helps contribute to the city’s vibrant, never-sleeps vibe. In addition to its high Walk Score, New York also topped the list of Smart Growth America’s 2023 Foot Traffic Ahead Report

Jersey City

Walk Score: 87

Located just across the Hudson River from New York City, Jersey City is basically a pedestrian-friendly extension of New York City. It’s big — spanning about 15 square miles — but has tons of green space, parks, sidewalks and, of course, a beautiful waterfront walkway with views of Manhattan.

Boston

Walk Score: 83

You may know it as Beantown, but one of Boston’s other nicknames is “America’s Walking City,” thanks in large part to its compact design. And while its winding one-ways and confusing traffic patterns might make life difficult for drivers, they’re a piece of cake for pedestrians. Boston also has several tranquil walking routes that make getting around on foot a joy, like the Charles River Esplanade and the Southwest Corridor Park.

Chicago

Walk Score: 77

Chicago may have the L, its signature elevated public train system, but many people living in, working in, and visiting the Windy City will happily get around on foot. Neighborhoods like Wicker Park, River North, and West Loop are ideal for strolling, thanks to their abundant shops, restaurants, art galleries, and parks. Wicker Park, for instance, is home to The 606, an old rail line that’s been converted into a 2.7-mile multiuse recreational trail. Plus, you can’t beat the views while walking along the scenic Lakefront Trail, which hugs the shore of Lake Michigan.

Miami

Walk Score: 77

Sun, sand, public art, and architecture — what more could you ask for while ambling around Miami? This bustling city has many walkable neighborhoods, including downtown, Flagler Heights, Wynwood, and Edgewater. But if you’re intrigued by Miami’s Cuban culture, make your way to Little Havana. Stroll along the historic Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th Street), where you’ll find Cuban restaurants and bakeries, cigar shops, and Cubans playing dominoes at Maximo Gomez Park.

Oakland

Walk Score: 75 

Located just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco, Oakland is a vibrant, diverse community where you can kiss your car goodbye. Walk, ride your bike, take the BART, or ride an e-scooter around town. In recent years, the city has become even more intentional about making its neighborhoods more walkable — one recent project, called Walk This Way, is making it safer for people to walk underneath the busy Interstate 880, for instance.

Philadelphia

Walk Score: 75

Take a walk back in time in Philadelphia, which played a vital role in our nation’s history. Because the City of Brotherly Love dates back to the British colonial era, many of its streets are narrow and quirky — which makes them not so great for cars, but ideal for pedestrians. Some of the most walkable neighborhoods are Washington Square West and Rittenhouse Square, which are both home to original public squares dating back to the 1680s.

Seattle

Walk Score: 74

Don’t let the city’s rainy reputation fool you: Seattlites like to walk, no matter the weather, especially in neighborhoods like First Hill, Belltown, and Chinatown-International District. If you’re in the mood for a scenic walk, check out the Alki Trail, a waterfront route in West Seattle with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains.