When you arrive at your vacation destination, it can be nice to park the car and explore on foot. Walking is a great way to really get to know the place you are visiting. That’s why it’s important to investigate the walkability of the city you are traveling to. Walkability is a combination of how easy it is to get from place to place as a pedestrian and how many amenities are within easy walking distance. We’ve used Walk Score to help you find some surprisingly walkable cities to explore.
The most walkable city on our list is Hoboken, NJ, with a walkability score of a whopping 92. You might be saying, “Of course Hoboken is walkable, it’s part of the New York Metropolitan Area.” But it wasn’t long ago that Hoboken was more known for the piles of garbage littering its streets and the dogs running wild. It may have been the perfect place to film On the Waterfront, but it was not a good environment for shop owners or visitors.
Things started to turn around for Hoboken in the 1970s and 1980s. Now the city’s historic brownstones are filled with so many residents that it’s the fourth most densely populated city in the nation. The area is filled with amenities including Carlo’s Bake Shop, which you may have seen featured in TLC’s Cake Boss, and with an area of approximately 2 square miles, everything is within walking distance. The charming downtown of this bedroom community is definitely worth a stroll.
West Hollywood, CA
Call it WeHo if you must, but with a Walk Score of 89, West Hollywood is a great place to be on foot. The city (yes, it’s an incorporated city) has come a long way from the 1920s when its location on the edge of things made it the perfect place to set up casinos. Nowadays West Hollywood is a top vacation spot for gay and lesbian travelers and also home to a large Russian speaking population who migrated there after the fall of the Soviet Union.
The city motto is “Living Forward” and residents and visitors alike are doing just that in famous locations like Santa Monica Boulevard, the Sunset Strip, and Chateau Marmont. Combine the wealth of entertainment with rent control and West Hollywood is not only a great place to walk around, you may just want to live there.
It’s probably not a shocker that the third most walkable city on our list is also in California. Berkeley scores a very respectable 82 on the walkability scale. It’s not quite as pedestrian-friendly as San Francisco (85), but it easily beats neighboring Oakland (68). Once proposed as capital of California, Berkeley largely escaped damage during the 1906 earthquake only to be destroyed by a 1923 fire.
We suspect part of what brings so many amenities together is the University of California, Berkeley. It doesn’t hurt that Berkeley’s street system pushes traffic out of neighborhoods and onto arterials. There’s even a series of bicycle boulevards, arterial streets dedicated to bikes. Together, this means Berkeley is a great place to walk and ride, even if it does have some of the highest home prices in the nation.
Oak Park, IL
Best known as the location of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio, Oak Park is surprisingly walkable. With a score of 78, it actually ranks better than neighboring Chicago (74). Oak Park is known for embracing its diversity, and today the city is has a quaint downtown and neighborhoods filled with homes in a wide variety of architectural styles. All of this is within walking distance of some really fantastic arts organizations including the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum.
Though lesser-known than Chicago to the east, Oak Park has become a destination in its own right.
White Plains, NY
White Plains has come a long way in walkability. In the 1960s, White Plains and its neighbors in Westchester County were home to Don Draper-types who drove their status symbol automobiles nearly everywhere. Today, the city has a Walk Score of 68.
White Plains is no longer just a bedroom community for New York City, either. So many large corporations like ITT, Nine Wet, Vimeo, and Heineken have set up offices there that the daytime population is estimated to be five times the size of the number of people who actually live there.
What about Alaska?
Walk Score information for Alaska is not as extensive as we’d like. Data only covers 2,500 cities in the whole nation and because many places in Alaska are smaller, they haven’t yet been ranked. But smaller areas have an advantage when it comes to walkability. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Alaska has a higher rate of walking and biking to work than any other state and Alaska is also the third safest state for biking and walking. Here are two cities that Walk Score information is available for:
Overall, Anchorage’s score of 41 is neither impressive nor surprising. The city is quite spread out and cars are a must for getting to a lot of fun out-of-town activities. Anchorage’s downtown, however, scores an 81 in walkability—that beats Seattle’s overall score of 74. Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, the Westmark Anchorage is ideal for those travelers who look forward to exploring the city by foot. Rest assured that if you book a trip to Anchorage, the city has lots to offer for pedestrians and drivers alike.
With a Walk Score of 51, Fairbanks is considered somewhat walkable. It is almost as walkable as Atlanta and more walkable than Las Vegas. If you choose to spend all or part of your Fairbanks vacation on foot, choose the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center as your start and end destination. Located in downtown Fairbanks, we know you’ll find plenty of fun cafés, galleries, and shops to explore within walking distance of the hotel.
How does your city’s Walk Score stack up?