Plenty of cities in the U.S. and Canada are known for being walkable, and a number of urban centers cater to cyclists as well, even offering bicycles for rent. But a few destinations stand out as urban meccas for active travelers.
Boston: Walk the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail with a costumed guide, or follow the brick-inlaid path past 16 historic sites on your own. The 46.9-mile Harborwalk takes you along Boston’s waterfront, and offers a less crowded stroll. Hit the Arnold Arboretum when you want to feel like you’re far from the city.
Chicago: The city has tons of parks with walking trails, and National Geographic even has self-guided walking tours of Millennium and Grant Parks, the Magnificent Mile, and The Loop. Chicago Food Planet offers tours with tastings at local stores and eateries, while Walk Chicago Tours offers personalized walks based on your interests.
Milwaukee: Take a guided tour of historic Milwaukee or join a Milwaukee Food Tour to sample the local flavors along the way. The seven-mile Hank Aaron State Trail connects the lakefront with the western part of the city, and the nearly three-mile RiverWalk cuts through the heart of downtown.
New York City: Walking the Big Apple ensures you won’t miss out on street fairs or people watching. Big Onion offers tours of historic and ethnic neighborhoods, but there are tours for almost anyone. Check out Caleb Smith’s journey through nearly every street in Manhattan for inspiring photos and maps that focus on off-the-beaten-path sites.
Seattle: There are multiple ways to see Seattle by foot, but coffee lovers should look no further than the Coffee Crawl. There are downloadable maps for self-guided tours around the city, including walks with a focus on art or history. Or, opt for the guided World’s Greatest Seattle Walking Tour or the Seattle Bites food tour.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: Albuquerque wants to be known as a cycling destination, and it earns the reputation with nearly 400 miles of both street and off-road paths, plus a plan to expand the existing trails. You can track the progress of the project, or plan your routes with an interactive map.
Burlington, Vermont: With a bike ferry for trips across Lake Champlain, a bike path linking the lake’s coast to downtown, and over 1,300 miles of cycling routes along the lake in Vermont, New York, and Quebec, Burlington is a great base for a peddling vacation. The city also has plenty of mountain-based biking and an interactive trail map to help you plan routes.
Davis, California: Bicycling is heavily incorporated into the small city’s infrastructure, with more than 100 miles of bike lanes and paths, special overpasses and underpasses for road crossings, dedicated street lanes and traffic signals, more bikes than cars, and strictly enforced traffic laws and regulations for cyclists and drivers. Use the printable maps of bike paths to plan your route.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada: The city already has around 300 miles of trails and plans to double this by 2015, and BIXI, Montreal’s public bike system, makes it easy to rent bikes at any hour of the day for the majority of the year. Food-loving cyclists should look to My Bicyclette for both custom tours and a Tastes of Montreal Tour with stops for sampling cheese, chocolate, and more at local boutiques.
Portland, Oregon: With more than 300 miles of bike lanes, paths, and designated low-traffic streets, Portland entices visitors to explore using pedal power. Several hotels offer special packages for bikers, and guided bike tours let you stay active while gaining insider knowledge of the city. Look to BikePortland.org for the latest cycling events.
What other cities are great for biking and/or walking? Share your thoughts by submitting a comment below!