Rallying the whole family for an epic walk is perhaps one of the most adventurous ways to spend an afternoon. It’s one of the few simple activities the family can do together that combines quality time, health benefits, and the chance to discover or learn something new.
In our hometowns, we all have our go-to routes. We know which coffee shop to duck into, the most scenic overlooks, and even the cleanest bathrooms for guaranteed emergencies. But when you’re visiting a place you’ve never been, it’s helpful to have a little of that insider intel.
We’ve asked awesome families from all over the U.S. to map out their favorite walking paths in both urban and rural areas. So bust out a stroller that’s up to the task, lace up your sneakers, and head out on your next great adventure.
〉Map Tip: Tap the icon in the top left of the maps listed below to see route details and map options.
Loop around the park for a great waterfront stroll. The path is paved, wide, and great for strollers.
Local insight provided by Katie W.
Children’s museum, park, and ice cream
Thinkery Children’s Museum | This hands-on museum focuses on STEM exhibits that change frequently. Bring a change of clothes so the kids can take full advantage of the water features. Park on the north side of the building to make use of a free parking garage.
Mueller Lake Park | Once the site of the old airport, the Mueller redevelopment is now a mixed-used metropolitan dream. Check out the playground, watch the ducks, and cruise around the many trails after lunch.
Sculpture garden, food trucks, and a spring swim cooldown
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum | Kids are free to touch the sculptures in the outdoor garden and the paths are accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Admission may be free when you visit – depending on donor contributions – but otherwise, adults are $5 and children under 12 are free!
The Picnic Food trucks | This melting pot of food trucks has something for everyone. There are plenty of shady tables, fans, and restrooms. BYOB if you want any adult beverages. Check the website for up-to-date truck selections and hours.
Barton Springs Pool | Cool down quickly at this large 3 acre, spring-fed pool, which stays a brisk 68 degrees year-round. Food, alcohol, and airborne toys like footballs and frisbees are prohibited. Lifeguards are on site from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. There is a free section of the pools, but the $4 admission is worth it. Tip: bring cash to avoid the long lines at the credit card kiosk.
Riverwalk boardwalk and tacos
Lady Bird Boardwalk | This new boardwalk (2014) offers great views of the river and city skyline. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles and birds along the shore and stop to check out the 36 bronze belts on the boardwalk railings created by artist Ken Little to commemorate well-known Texas singers and songwriters.
Taco joint | Refuel after your river stroll. This quick taqueria serves up a wide variety of large, cheap, delicious tacos and more (Tip: try the El Cubano Bolillo) – don’t miss the sauce station. This place can get busy during prime lunch hours when the college kids are in town.
Local insight provided by Zaeli K.
Los Angeles, CA
Park three blocks away near Blackwood Coffee Bar on Sunset Ave. for a specialty cup of caffeine to sip on while you make your way to the trailhead. The main trail is wide and paved, but you’ll want to make this trek an out-and-back as the trail at the summit narrows and gets rocky. There are no restrooms in the park. You may want to re-visit Blackwood Coffee Bar 😉
Griffith Park – Near the old L.A. Zoo
Visit the park rangers before you head out and get the skinny on other trails you might want to check out!
Reward your stroll with a ride on the merry-go-round after your walk. Open weekends through the year and during the week through the summer 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Picnic in the Lion’s Den at the Old Zoo or at Shane’s Inspiration and enjoy the universally designed playground.
Drinking from the stream is not such a great idea – fill your water bottles at the drinking fountain in the parking lot.
Post-hike hunger? Swing past Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market & Patio Cafe for a no-frills fish ‘n’ chips spot with ocean views.
Local insight provided by Andy B.
Start with lunch at the cute, environmentally-conscious and tasty Luke’s Lobster. If you’ve left any room, swing by the famous Georgetown Cupcakes before using Cady’s Ally to make your way to the historic C&O Canal Towpath. This historic waterway runs parallel to an 184-mile path that will take you from D.C. into Maryland.
Take the Towpath east and make your way to the Georgetown Waterfront Park for great views of the river.
The blocks between 14th and 20th on Q St NW showcase the variety of residential architecture found in the city. Take a leisurely stroll down this quiet street and pop into the quirky Mr. Yogato for great frozen yogurt and amazingly friendly service. If you participate in their trivia and games they’ll discount your yogurt!
Finish your walk at the Dupont Circle fountain.
Local insight provided by Zoe R.
Fuel up at Heart Coffee Roasters before the walk. Grab sandwiches to go at the Laurelhurst Market and head over to Laurelhurst Park. The park has lots of greenery, paved trails, tennis courts, and even a dance studio in the middle of the park (you can sign up for classes through Portland Parks & Rec).
Music Millenium is a fun spot to buy records and other musical accouterments. It’s also infamously known for a “Keep Portland Weird” mural on the side of the building. Make a bathroom break at Whole Foods Market.
Don’t miss the ice cream at Cheese & Crack Snack Shop. The dark chocolate ganache at the bottom of the ice cream cone is the happiest ending you’ll ever know. Take your cone through the quiet and pretty neighborhood around NE Davis St. Your walk could be expanded throughout all of these windy little roads.
If it’s a rainy day, or you’re ready to rest your legs, check out show times at the Laurelhurst Theater. This cheap theater ($4) serves alcohol, pizza, and popcorn.
Begin at Peninsula Park. The parks rose gardens are amazing and the playground, maintained trails, and fountains make it easy to explore for a couple of hours.
Swing through Multnomah County Library (North Portland) for a bathroom or a little quiet time.
Hit up Sweedeedee for the wonderful atmosphere and great food. I recommend brunch or lunch.
Afterward, you can pop into the Portland Museum of Modern Art – this is really more of a gallery (which is even a stretch). They host a free family tour for kids under 17 Sundays at 12:30 p.m.
If you’re in town Saturday, check out the huge Portland Farmers Market.
Portland is known for its food trucks. Nong’s Khao Man Gai serves delicious Thai food out of their truck and their brick & mortar location in the southeast. Great for lunch.
Spend some time meandering through the shelves at the mother of all bookstores: Powell’s City of Books.
There’s so much great food in this city, it’s hard not to eat every hour. Grab some fancy-pants donuts at Blue Star Donuts, or great ice cream at Ruby Jewel. If you’re ready for lunch.2, get takeout from The Whole Bowl, or sit down at (vegetarian/vegan) Prasad. This restaurant was the filming location in “Portlandia” with a “smokers’ lounge” of sorts for customers to go toot-toot. The food is good, I swear. Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House is a great kid-friendly place to grab a beer.
End by the cool sculptures & fountains of Jamison Square. Hop on the Max to end the walk.
Local insight provided by Hannah M.
Make your family walk smoother with the stroller that allows for three-stage expansions with 30 configurations.
Parent Co. partnered with Austlen Baby Co. because the most fun adventures often happen on foot.
San Francisco, CA
Loop One: Lover’s Lane and Inspiration Overlook Point
Start at the Presidio gate at the corner of Pacific Ave. and Presidio Blvd. Take the old “Lover’s Lane” trail on your left. Keep your eyes peeled for “Wood Line,” an art installation by Andy Goldsworthy, located in the eucalyptus forest just east of the trail.
Once the trail ends, turn left onto Barnard Ave. and connect to the Ecology Trail. Follow this trail up to Inspiration Overlook. Once you’ve taken in the view, use Mountain Lake Trail to get back to the gate where you started.
Loop Two: Ocean and Goldengate views from Lincoln Blvd.
Start at the north end of Lincoln Blvd. and make your way south along the path that runs parallel to the road. You’ll get great views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the city, and the ocean. Once you’ve reached the intersection with Bowley St. you can hop on the free Presidigo Shuttle for a quick ride back up the hill.
The Mission’s many great restaurants and shops make it a great place to explore on foot. After checking out Valencia St, head to Foreign Cinema for dinner and a movie, which is projected onto the wall of their patio. The menu is a bit upscale but they offer a great kid’s menu. Once dinner’s finished, walk over to Smitten Ice Cream for individually flash frozen servings.
Local insight provided by Lydia S.
Fruit and gardens
Before your walk, grab a fresh smoothie, juice, or milkshake at Pinecrest Wayside Market. They also sell prepared salads, sandwiches, locally made jams, muffins, as well as fruit and produce.
Walk over to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and explore the beautiful gardens. The gardens have a couple of cafes on site if you have a snack emergency. Look for the glass sculptures throughout the gardens.
After the gardens, walk or drive to the Red Fish Grill for an amazing sunset view. The food can be a bit pricey.
Eat your way down Espanola Way
Espanola Way is less hectic than some of the other pedestrian streets in Miami. The street is known for its variety of authentic cuisine, slow-living, and people watching. Take a leisurely stroll and have an early dinner before the street turns into more of a party scene.
Havana 1957 Cuban Cuisine serves wonderful Cuban food along with their famous mojitos. If you’re in more of a French mood, sit on the airy patio of A La Folie for casual and authentic French fare. Italian Hosteria Romana is on the pricier side, but the food is good and the service is friendly. Tapas & Tintos serves great sangria, tapas, and lively dancing gets going in the evenings.
Local insight provided by Eric S.
Millennium Park | Whether you take the train into the city or park your car in Millennium Garage, beginning your Chicago trip at Millennium Park is a good way to start the day. You’ll want to get your required selfie by Cloud Gate (or “The Bean” by the locals’ terminology). The fabulous “face” fountains are great for kids to splash in and get cool. Other cool features of Millennium Park: the clamshell stage, the Lurie garden, and easy access to the Art Institute. Millennium Park is always busy with a constant lineup of events (especially in summer) so be sure to check the monthly schedule.
Chicago Children’s Museum | The Chicago Children’s Museum has an exhibit for every child: From blanket forts to a tinkering lab to an art studio just for kids, your kids are guaranteed to find something they love. Even babies and tots have their own safe place to crawl and play. For the super adventurous family, combine your museum admission with the SeaDog, the super speed boat experience.
Ferris Wheel| While you’re at Navy Pier, soak up the Chicago skyline while aboard the Centennial Wheel. Newly updated to be completely enclosed, each Ferris wheel bucket is safe and secure for even the littlest of littles.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Café | Ghirardelli Chocolate Café is a must-do. Their menu is heaven for both ice cream and chocolate lovers alike, and I can’t get past the World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae.
Billy Goat Tavern | Walk to Billy Goat Tavern for some dinner. Yep, ice cream before dinner because, hey, Chicago’s fun and we can do that. Popularized by an SNL skit, you’ll know that you can only order “cheeps, no fries.” Get in the Chicago spirit and order yourself a “Cheeseborger” and dig in.
Garrett Popcorn | No Chicago trip is ever complete without a trip to Garrett for popcorn. Sure the lines might be as a long as a ride at Disney, but as soon as you taste the oddly delicious “Chicago Mix” (cheddar/caramel), you’ll see why.
Intelligentsia Coffee | After a day this intense, it’s time for a coffee break for the parents. You’ve come full circle on your walking Chicago tour, as the Randolph Street location is near both Millennium station and the parking garage. The inside décor is post-industrial and reflects the art of Millennium Park itself.
Local insight provided by Kathryn T.
New York City
Central Park (the scenic route)
Central Park Zoo | This small zoo is home to more than 100 animals from all over the world, including sea lions, penguins, and snow leopards – sure to be a hit with the kids. It also hosts a small petting zoo where you can feed barn animals from dispensers.
Conservatory Water | Remote-controlled model sailboats are a huge draw here (hint: for kids who love to read, this is a plot in Stuart Little!). The water is surrounded by statues of fictional characters kids will love including Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen. Going in the winter? Instead of model sailboats, the water is lowered for free ice skating!
Bethesda Terrace and Fountain | Considered the heart of Central Park, Bethesda Terrace is frequented by talented street performers and NYC residents looking to escape the hustle and bustle. This is a great spot to grab a hot dog or pretzel from a street vendor and people-watch.
Belvedere Castle | This miniature castle designed in the late 1800s is a hidden gem. The kids will love exploring the inside of the castle full of historical exhibits and information on local wildlife. At the top of the castle, the landmark offers some of the best scenic views in Central Park.
American Museum of Natural History | While technically across the street from the park, this is one of the largest museums in the world. The museum’s exhibitions explore humanity and the natural world throughout the ages. Taking up four city blocks, you may want to pick and choose which areas of the museum you spend the most time in!
Downtown Manhattan (Landmark Route)
Brooklyn Bridge | A little more than a mile long, walking the Brooklyn Bridge will give you some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. It takes close to an hour to walk one-way across the bridge with kids. Unless your family is ready for a long walk, you may want to start on the Brooklyn side, or only go halfway and double back starting from the Manhattan side.
South Street Seaport | This area of Manhattan is one of the oldest parts of the city, featuring renovated original mercantile buildings, sailing ships, and modern tourist malls. It’s the perfect spot to stop and grab some lunch from gourmet street vendors before continuing your tour of downtown Manhattan.
Staten Island Ferry | An all-day trip to explore the Statue of Liberty may be out of the question depending on the age of your kids, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing the NYC landmark! Hop a ride on the free Staten Island Ferry for a break from walking. Make sure to scope out a good spot on the railing for some great family photos when the ferry passes the Statue of Liberty.
Charging Bull / Fearless Girl | The financial district may seem like a different type of city entirely, but there are great photo opportunities by the statues of the Charging Bull and Fearless Girl.
9/11 Memorial and Museum | Located at the site of the World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum pays tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon with artifacts from the day, stories of hope, and reflecting pools where the towers once stood.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket | Open Saturdays Year Round, market Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Located at the northwest entrance to beautiful Prospect Park and just steps from the Brooklyn Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store | This store showcases an ever-evolving collection of well-curated goods for home, gifts, and kiddos – and a great backyard area for play and special events.
The Old Stone House | Originally built by Dutch settlers in 1699, the homestead later became significant in the Battle of Brooklyn. The small, kid-friendly museum only requires about 30 minutes and can be entered by donation (suggested $3). The House is situated at the center of Washington Park and JJ Byrne Playground – which has separate play spaces for toddlers, elementary and middle-school aged children. Open Friday 3 p.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company | If you know of someone in need of capes, masks, anti-gravity gel, or x-ray goggles then this is a must! This volunteer-staffed store is actually benefitting a non-profit supporting kids’ literacy! Warning, the volunteer staff may be out saving the world when you want to visit, so call before you go to make sure they’re open.
Puppetworks | Founder Nicolas Coppola is passionate about engaging kids in his marionette puppet shows . Kids sit on mats at the front for short and charming adaptations of well-known plays while parents can enjoy themselves on benches in the back of the small theater. Child: $9, Adult: $10. Reservations are suggested: 718-965-3391 | Credit cards aren’t accepted.
Brooklyn burger and beer | This elevated, kid-friendly (and overall friendly) burger joint serves up great grass-fed burgers and milk + cookie with their kids’ meals. Monday – Friday you can get a burger (two toppings), a side, and a cookie for $13. Great cocktails, too!
Local insight provided by Tara P.
USS Constitution Museum/ HarborWalk | While you might find yourself itching to jump right to Quincy Market, I suggest beginning a little on the outskirts, in charming Charlestown. There are multiple parking garages which offer cheaper rates than most central city lots. You may even get lucky and find street parking to avoid paying fees altogether.
The Boston Navy Yard and Marine Barracks set the backdrop for your visit to the USS Constitution Museum and “Old Ironsides.” Over the past five years, the museum has gone through some major renovations to create a fun and interactive experience for children of all ages.
Charlestown/ Long Wharf Ferry Ride | Climb aboard the modern-day Charlestown Ferry for a ride to Long Wharf through the Boston Harbor! The ferry is the quickest way to the New England Aquarium and Faneuil Hall. You can enjoy the ferry from inside the cabin or take in the views of the cityscape from the top deck. There’s a snack bar inside the cabin where you purchase your tickets ($3.50 per person).
The Greenway Carousel | Once at Long Wharf, head on over to the carousel located at the nearby Rose Kennedy Greenway. This beautiful carousel includes native species like a turtle, rabbit, and lobster. The carousel has been designed to be accessible for children with physical disabilities. Rides cost $3 per ticket or $25 for a pack of 10 tickets.
After, stroll on over to Emack & Bolio’s, on 100 Legends Way, and cool down with an ice cream cone or sundae. There is plenty of shade and a nearby splash pad that children (and adults) of all ages can appreciate! If you’re not quite ready for a sugary treat, there are plenty of food trucks that frequent this area with decently priced options. The infamous Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also close by. Be warned: The market is packed around noon and can be difficult to navigate with a stroller.
Boston Common Frog Pond Spray Pool & Fountain/ Tadpole Playground | Burn off some steam at the spray pool and fountain in the Boston Common. The shady trees surrounding the area make a great spot to lay a blanket when it’s time to dry off. Frog Pond Café is open in the summer, but many locals pack a picnic lunch to enjoy. Check the park’s calendar to catch a magic show, face painting, and other fun activities for kids!
If it’s a cooler day and you’ve had your fill of splash pads, head on over to the Tadpole Playground. Remember to wear your water shoes! This playground has fountain frogs that like to squirt water.
If time allows and your family isn’t quite ready to go to dinner, head to the Boston Public Garden for a photo-op with the “Make Way for Ducklings” statues or Swan Boat rides on the man-made pond. Boat rides cost $2 for children between the ages of two and 15. Kids under two are free! Bonus!
Delicious brick-oven pizza at Antico Forno | Once you’ve had your fill of adventure, it’s time to head over to the famous North End. On weekends and during the busy summer months, you should call ahead and make reservations. The North End boasts many fabulous Italian eateries but only a handful are truly family friendly. Antico Forno is sure to please with their artisan brick-oven pizza – which can be ordered online ahead of time for pick up.
Bova’s Bakery in Boston’s Historic North End | Be sure to end the night at Bova’s Bakery. If you’ve dined at a restaurant in the North End that served bread with the meal (basically everywhere in the North End), you’ve tasted Bova’s. They offer a selection of traditional Italian cookies, the best cannolis the city has to offer, and they’re open 24 hours. You’ll also avoid the touristy lines that Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry typically bring. Keep cash on you. None of the three bakeries mentioned above accept credit/debit cards.
Local insight provided by Elise K.
Parent Co. partnered with Austlen Baby Co. because the most fun adventures often happen on foot.