Ditch the LA traffic for these cities you can stroll through.
Heading to sunny California for a much-needed getaway? California is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and cultural epicenters in the United States. While Los Angeles might be the crown jewel of the Golden State, there are several other cities within the state that may be more convenient if you’re planning on visiting — especially if you want to maximize your time exploring. Ditch the round-the-clock traffic of LA this time and opt for one of the many Californian cities you can explore by foot. Consult this ultimate list of the most walkable cities in California, ranked by their walk score.
A “walk score” is a way to measure a city’s walk-ability, based on its distance to amenities food, shopping, entertainment, and anything you’d need for daily fun. When a city has a high walk score, that means it’s an optimal place to live and explore by foot. With California’s beautiful natural setting, there’s plenty to enjoy outdoors, from hiking trails to surfing beaches, botanical gardens, and vineyards. Since you won’t have to spend your vacay money on gas or expensive taxis, you can put it towards a special meal or a once-in-a-lifetime experience like a hot air balloon ride or crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, which is a one of the seven wonders of the world.
Spend some time along the Pacific coast and discover these hidden gems of California. You can embrace the slow-living bohemian vibe the state’s known in these outdoor-focused cities and neighborhoods. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding fun things to do, because, based on real research, everything you need is guaranteed to be just a few strides away.
Sonoma is known for its slow-living, sustainable vibe, and of course its delicious wine. Located along the Pacific coast amongst the mountains, the Sonoma vineyards are a must-see, especially for a wine-tasting or scenic stroll. Dubbed “The Valley of the Moon,” (and ranked a “Walker’s Paradise” at 93), you can also catch a hot air balloon ride above the Mayacoma Mountain Range, hit a nearby beach, or explore downtown on foot for shopping, historic sites, and locally sourced food.
While driving in Los Angeles is the usual method of transportation, neighborhoods like West Hollywood are walkable enough for a jam-packed weekend trip. It has a walk score of 91 so you have a lot of options. Shop until you drop on the upscale Sunset Strip, snap an Instagram at the iconic “pink wall” on Melrose Avenue, see Old Hollywood history at the Chateau Marmont, and enjoy the vibrant LGBTQT-friendly nightlife and live music scene.
“Golden Gate City” is an ideal destination for a metropolitan vibe by the seaside. With windy hills and walkable neighborhoods, including attractions like the “Painted Ladies” park as seen in Full House, the Botanical Gardens, and peaceful walks in the labyrinths in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco has plenty to explore without needing a car. You can check out North Beach’s Little Italy for a delicious pasta dinner, try the famous sourdough bread at the Fisherman’s Wharf, or even walk across the Golden Gate Bridge for a scenic afternoon.
Home to one of the most scenic college campuses in the country, Berkeley is the perfect place to live easy and soak up the sun like a Californian. It has a walking score of 85 for its outdoor attractions like the 34-acre Berkeley Botanical Garden, the marina — where you can go kayaking or explore one of the nearby hiking trails — and Telegraph Avenue, which is perfect for shopping and grabbing a bite while you enjoy Berkeley’s vintage-bohemian vibes.
Santa Monica is an ideal beach destination with a ton of activities you can enjoy by foot, boasting a “Very Walkable” walk score of 83. A visit to Santa Monica State Beach is a must if you’re craving some sand and surf, but you can also walk along the famous pier, go shopping at the Third Street Promenade, or chill at Palisades Park for a stunning view of the northern Californian coast.
Known as “The Heart of Screenland,” film buffs will be excited to explore Culver City’s cinematic history at the film lots where iconic movies including "The Wizard of Oz," "Gone with the Wind," "Grease" and “Tarzan” were filmed. Culver City, scored at 79, is also known for its history of aviation and museums, relaxed beaches, and the hiking trails to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, where you can catch a view of the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles Basin.
Just five minutes accross the bay from San Francisco, Oakland boasts warmer weather and diverse culture. It’s mostly walkable, scored at 75, with a variety of ethnic cuisines to enjoy (including street food you can eat on the go), and a buzzing jazz and music scene with outdoor festival and concerts. You can also unwind at Lake Merrit, where you can rent kayaks and canoes at the park and enjoy the wildlife sanctuary.
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