Here is the top ten, and my comments about each if I have been there. Walking in a new city is one of the great joys in life. Though I have been walking more foreign cities than American, the thrill is always there.
10. Oakland This is a total mystery to me, unless you want to get shot or mugged while trying to find dinner or the BART station. But there are parts of the city that might pass as walkable, although they are somewhat hilly. Perhaps Montclair or Piedmont might be walkable, if you can find anything to eat or do there. Oakland Chinatown has some really good and fairly priced food.
9. Minneapolis This is the only city in the top ten that I have not visited, although I must have been at the airport when Northwest Orient was still flying. My guess is that the strong Scandinavian and German heritage is widely experienced. And the Mall of America is actually in Bloomington. Covering over 96.4 acres, this could be the best indoor walking in the northern states during winter.
Mall of America
8. Miami Anyone who has walked Miami Beach can tell you that it is the ultimate rip off. But it is a place to be, to be seen, and to eat and shop. Personally, I prefer Little Havana for its charm and plentiful restaurants and cigar shops. I see Miami more as a stopover, on the way to either a cruise or onto to Central and South America.
7. Washington, DC I would rate DC much higher, at least some of the neighborhoods. Certainly the Capitol Mall area and the Smithsonians are a great walk, along with Georgetown, Adams-Morgan, and U Street. Add to this, a great network of buses and Metro (underground subway) when you get tired of walking. DC also has plentiful dining options, along with a vibrant food truck scene. Love the trucks!
Capitol Mall, DC
6. Seattle My personal favorite for the best walking city. On most visits, we walk from Belltown all the way through the downtown area, out to the International District (south). With a Starbucks on every corner, and free downtown buses, it is a dream location for tourists and locals alike. Also enjoyable are Pike Place Market, Seattle Center, Capital Hill, and the U District (U Dub). Most venues are walking distance, or a short hop on the bus. Rental cars and cabs are totally not necessary.
5. Philadelphia Start at the Independence Visitor Center, and walk the downtown area, to the historic sites, as well as the watering holes. And you must have a Philly Cheese Steak, the best cheese steak on the planet. Order it with onions and chilies, topped with melted jack cheese. The Liberty Bell, followed by a pub that was established during the same period, is a must do.
4. Chicago The Magnificent Mile is just a start, as several Chicago neighborhoods have been reborn after the election of President Obama. Two of my favorites are Greek town and Chinatown. Wicker Park and Bucktown are also good artistic and culinary amusements. Rush Street is actually more fun in daylight, if you like to shop. The “El” can take you anywhere you cannot walk, especially at night. Also, try Wrigley Field, Navy Pier, and the famous Chicago dog, deep dish pizza, Garrett’s Popcorn, and Chicago beef!
The Windy City
3. Boston Besides the Freedom Trail, Boston is a great walk. Add in a short “T” ride to Cambridge to walk Hahhh-vad and MIT. Boston seems like a very safe place to walk and explore. The mix of neighborhoods, like Newbury Street are juxtaposed on traditional New England architecture. If you happen to see Charlie on the “T”, please pass him a nickel!
2. San Francisco Why is SF not number one? Perhaps the homeless, or the fact that there are so many great neighborhoods to walk. My favorites are the Mission, the Sunset, the Embarcadero, Chinatown, North Beach, Clement Street, Noe Valley, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the downtown theater and shopping area. Add BART and Muni, and everything is reachable in minutes. What other city has a cable car?
1. New York City I think the trend now is rather obvious. The best walking cities have lots of different neighborhoods that can be reached either on foot or by public transportation. New York City would take years to walk. Take your pick, Soho, Greenwich, Chelsea, Midtown Manhattan, Bronx, Harlem, the neon lights of Broadway, Queens, Staten Island, or Brooklyn. Add to this, the famous venues like 30 Rock, Carnegie Hall, and Yankee Stadium for a variety of entertainment.
Central Park, NYC
Missing in Action: Portland, OR, New Orleans, Santa Fe, San Diego, Bar Harbor, ME, Charleston, SC, and the Monterey Peninsula. Overseas, I like Bangkok, Tokyo, London, Cape Town, Sydney, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Georgetown (Penang), and Kyoto.