There is nothing quite like walking! All you need to do it is good weather, energy, time and feet. And as we all know, everything in our lives is improved by walking, from our health to our attitude.
You are probably wondering how and why Dish ranked one city higher than another? Well, the answer is by consulting with Walk Score, a Seattle-based company that rates the convenience, walkability, and access of 10,000 neighborhoods in 2,500 cities, taking into consideration factors such as public transportation, parks and other public spaces, as well as amenities designed around pedestrians. Each city is given a ranking from 1 to 100.
Here are the top 6 cities from Walk Score’s 2011 rankings, along with some fun tour suggestions from the Dishmag staff for each destination:
1. NEW YORK CITY- Manhattan
As a native New Yorker, I can tell you that walking and public transportation is the name of the game in Manhattan. Having a car there is just too much trouble. First of all, the tolls to just get in and out of the city can be as high as $14, and forget about parking. How does $50 for 4 hours sound to you? Taxi? Fugetaboutit sucker! Instead, a $2.50 MetroCard for the subway or bus, and your feet, can get you anywhere you want to go with ease.
FYI- In Manhattan, there is no neighborhood that is not unique, flavorful & exciting, and that’s without considering the other four boroughs. Whether your taste is Chinatown’s ethnic culture, the Meatpacking District’s fanciful art galleries, Soho’s chic fashion boutiques, Uptown’s fancy hotels, restaurants and elegant brownstone’s or a countrified walk in the park in the middle of it all, Central Park, it’s all there. Plus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's PlaNYC sustainability plan is paying off, as the iconic Times Square has become pedestrian pathway off-limits to cars, and bike lanes are going in across the five boroughs. New York City's Walk Score is an impressive 85 out of 100, the highest in the country, with 90% of its neighborhoods ranking highly for walkability.
2. SAN FRANCISCO, CA
San Francisco is just like New York when it comes to cars- the roads are crowded, tolls are expensive and parking is ridiculous. So why not combine a scenic trolley ride with your own 2 feet for a fun tour with as little or as much walking as you desire?
The San Francisco Trolley Hop (www.sanfranciscotours.us, $19.95) uses motorized vehicles that look like San Francisco cable cars. They travel past most of the popular spots, with frequent departures during the day, saving you travel time. You can get on or off at will at Union Square, the Embarcadero Center near the Ferry Building, in North Beach/Chinatown, or Pier 41 1/2 near Fisherman's Wharf. The one hour tour costs $21.95. Once there, you may combine the trolley with the San Francisco Explorer Cruise (www.buysanfranciscotours.com, $24-$36) and you'll see a lot in just one day. This cruise breaks ranks with the others that loop out around Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, instead taking you to more interesting and unusual sights that even many San Franciscans may not have seen. The 90-minute tour begins March 29th. The most walkable neighborhoods in San Francisco, with a Walk Score just shy of 85, are Chinatown, Financial District, and Tenderloin.
3. BOSTON, MA
If you happen to be in Boston and are in the mood for a brisk and fascinating walk, check out Boston by Foot (www.bostonbyfoot.org), where you can choose from up to eight local- volunteer-led walks that showcase Boston's rich architectural and historical heritage. 2012 tours include Beacon Hill, from the State House to the Federal-style architecture of Charles Bulfinch and his followers, Boston by Foot offers a Ben Franklin: Son of Boston tour and Captain Kidd’s Treasure Hunt. All tours are docent led, and range in price from $12-20. For something different, try the The Dark Side of Boston Tour which takes you on a walk through Boston’s history of misery, misfortunes, and malice. The Literary Landmarks Tour allows enthusiasts of American literature to walk among the homes and haunts of the great Victorian writers such as Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Alcott, James, Dickens, and Longfellow. With a Walk Score of 79, Boston is the third-most walkable city in America. Its most walkable neighborhoods are Haymarket, Bay Village and Chinatown.
6. CHICAGO, IL
Chicago (or Chi-town as it’s sometimes called) is huge, but unlike NYC it is not completely circumscribed by water. So a good walking strategy for this town would be “Pick Your Neighborhood”. How about starting with a self-guided tour of State Street “that Great Street“ as Frank Sinatra sang it years ago, one of Chicago's most popular shopping destinations? Plan your self-guided tour at a site like www.metrowalkz.com. It's hard to believe just how much history still survives here. You can learn where brownies came from, find out who invented the milk shake, and find out where Al Capone’s dentist’s office was. From the Chicago Fire to the elevated trains, from the muddiest street to the Joffrey Ballet, you’ll learn things you never knew about Chicago .
Although you won’t exactly be walking, another option is a speedy 3-Hour Segway Tour (http://www.getyourguide.com; starting at $70).The Segway tour is the perfect chance to get an overview of this unique city, from Grant Park on waterfront to the towering skyscrapers, from the Field Museum to the Shedd Aquarium, which was the largest indoor aquarium when it opened in 1929 and other world famous sites you will recognize from movies, postcards, and history.
Here’s another fun option! How about StrayBoots' Chicago: The Loop, (www.strayboots.com; $12) an interactive adventure that takes you Chicago's famous Loop and Millenium Park. Using your cell-phone as your guide, you can go at your own pace and start and stop where you like. Combining elements of a traditional walking tour with those of a scavenger hunt, you will be given clues (and hints if needed) to answer questions, earn points and learn fun facts as you go. Perfect for those of you want to get out and explore, discover, interact and compete! With a Walk Score of 74, Chicago ranks as the fourth-most walkable U.S. city. It's most walkable neighborhoods are Printers Row, Near North and Sheridan Park.
4. PHILADELPHIA, PA
As we all know, sometimes the best way to explore a city is on foot, so set out and see Philadelphia with the knowledgeable guides of Free Tours by Foot (www.freetoursbyfoot.com/philadelphia/), who entertain with their creative adventures through the City of Brotherly Love.Your guide will take you through the city’s historic streets and neighborhoods, from Chinatown to the Italian Market. This two-hour Freedom Rings in Philly Walking Tour is their signature tour, and will take you past the city’s most famous landmarks, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The tour is approximately one-mile long, beginning at the Independence Visitor Center at 6th and Market Streets. Another popular offering is the All-in-One Real Philadelphia Tour (http://www.visitphilly.com/tours) Running only on Saturdays, this four-hour walking tour will taking you past historic sights and through Philly’s famous neighborhoods including stops in Chinatown, Reading Market, South Street and the Italian Market. Delightfully, all available tours are free, as the guides work solely for tips. (Typical gratuities are $8-10 per person)
How about this for a change of pace! Discover the secrets hidden in the shadows of America's most historic and most haunted city! Join the Ghost Tour of Philadelphia (http://www.ghosttour.com/philadelphia; $17) for a candlelight stroll along the back streets and mysterious gardens of Society Hill and Independence Park, where tales of ghostly spirits, haunted houses and eerie graveyards lurk in the night!
Tours depart from Signers Garden at 5th & Chestnut Streets. Tours last 75 to 90 minutes
By the way, this writer attended college at Philadelphia's University of Pennsylvania. The school was founded in In 1749, by none other than Benjamin Franklin (be sure to check out his other achievements- as printer, inventor, future founding father and first postmaster of the United States. In 1751, Penn opened its doors to the children of the gentry and common people alike, a very unusual occurrence at that time. The historic campus deserves a tour of its own which can be found at TK Philadelphia. With a Walk Score of 74, Philadelphia ranks as the fifth-most walkable U.S. city. The most walkable neighborhoods in the City of Brotherly Love are Center City West, Center City East and University City.
5. SEATTLE, WA is a lovely place, but MIAMI, FL has replaced it as #5! Read more about it soon!
Greater Seattle, which is coming off a tourism high as fans of the Twilight books and films have been coming to the area in droves, is gearing up for a huge 2012. Don’t miss out as winner of the 2010 Best of Western Washington Award, Seattle Bites Food Tours (seattlebitesfoodtours.com) presents a 2.5 hour walking tour of historic 100-plus year old Pike Place Market, led by local culinary and history enthusiasts with a “permission to have fun” philosophy. The market is internationally recognized as America’s best farmers market and the epicenter of Seattle's lively food culture. From charming specialty mom and pop eateries, to one of a kind artisan food shops to the beloved neighborhood cafes, Seattle Bites pairs memorable stories of the market and its merchants with delicious gourmet and unique food and beverages tastings. And they also throw in their favorite Market restaurants, recipes and entertainment recommendations too! They offer a 10:30 AM tour, seven days a week, rain or shine. Check our Tickets Page for dates and times. Advanced ticket purchase required. $39.99
How about an opportunity to cut loose in the self-proclaimed center of the universe, with The Fremont Cut Loose Tour! (www.seattlebyfoot.com) The tour begins on Memorial Day, 2012, and starts in downtown Seattle. You continue on the Metro as you travel to one of Seattle’s most creative neighborhoods. Expect to touch & taste as we walk along the ship canal (aka “the cut”). We’ll see a troll living under a bridge, a rocket ship and floating houses. It’s more than a story… it’s a way of life. Small groups, very limited space so be sure to book ahead! Wednesday-Sunday (June-September) Saturday &Sunday (October-May)
Internet Price: $42.50 per person. With a Walk Score of 74, Seattle is the most walkable city in the Pacific Northwest. Its most walkable neighborhoods are Triangle, South Lake Union and Belltown.