We often hear from people asking if Walk Score is only for the biggest, most walkable cities. Walk Score® is a measure of the walkability of any address, and walkable cities can be big or small. To expand on the Walk Score ranking of large cities published earlier this year, today we rank and honor the 10 most walkable mid-sized cities with populations between 200,000 and 300,000. Several of the cities on the list below are actually suburbs of the nation’s largest cities, proving that you don’t have to live in the center of a major city to enjoy a walkable lifestyle.
1. Jersey City, NJ (Walk Score 84.4)
Jersey City is just across the Hudson River from the nation’s most walkable city, New York City, so it’s no surprise that Jersey City is also rated “Very Walkable.” One of the fastest growing cities in New Jersey, nearly 40 percent of Jersey City households do not own a car and more than half of commuters walk or take public transit to work. With Citi Bike, New York City’s bike-sharing program, expanding to Jersey City next month, it’s about to become even easier to walk and ride in and around the area.
“Jersey City has everything a resident could need or want right outside her door, making it possible to enjoy a car-less lifestyle most people think they can only find in a much bigger city,” said Redfin agent Nick Boniakowski. “Lately, my clients have been clamoring over Paulus Hook, where they can live in a brownstone on a tree-lined street and walk to trendy restaurants and the Grove Street farmer’s market.”
2. Newark, NJ (Walk Score 77.8)
“Newark is no longer just a place to work and pass through on your way to or from New York City,” said Redfin agent Nick Boniakowski. “As home values have soared elsewhere, homebuyers and renters have sought out Newark for its relative affordability and all that’s going on there, as revitalization efforts have brought more restaurants, shops and bars to town. Proximity to The Rock is a source of envy for all other New Jerseyans.”
3. Arlington, VA (Walk Score 67.1)
Situated opposite Washington D.C. on the south bank of the Potomac River, Arlington is the second largest city in the Washington metropolitan area. The most walkable neighborhood in Arlington is Ballston – Virginia Square. With over 100 restaurants, residents of this neighborhood can walk to an average of 13 restaurants, bars or coffee shops in only five minutes.
“Many residents of Arlington are car-free, opting to get around on foot, bike and public transportation,” says Jim Sandidge, a Redfin agent in Arlington. “While the D.C. area is notorious for traffic, communities like Arlington are wonderful for buyers who want the ‘live, work, play’ lifestyle. Living there, it’s easy to get to work, shopping, dining and entertainment options without getting into the car.”
4. Hialeah, FL (Walk Score 65.2)
“Walkability is an important part of what makes Hialeah such a strong, tight knit community, deeply rooted in Cuban culture,” said Redfin agent Emily Lozano. “The sidewalks are extensions of the homes there, with people socializing outside with family and neighbors, walking to locally owned supermarkets and restaurants, and kids walking to and from school. With easy access to the Metro, many Hialeah residents find they don’t need a car because work, family and friends are so easily accessible.”
5. Buffalo, NY (Walk Score 64.9)
With its waterfront, abundant green space, turn-of-the-century architecture and downtown revitalization, Redfin agent Lesley Lannan says Buffalo is one of the country’s best kept secrets. Lesley explains that the city was built around a connected urban park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who is best known for designing Manhattan’s Central Park.
“The parks are connected by grand boulevards lined with towering trees and historic homes. It’s a walker’s paradise,” says Lesley. “The urban downtown center is undergoing quite a revival with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus relocating there, the redevelopment of the Buffalo State Asylum into a conference center and the conversion of a 2.5-acre parking lot into a mixed- use development with grocery store, not to mention the multiple vacant warehouses and factories that are being converted into residential lofts. The home buyers I work with want to take advantage of the activities downtown, whether it’s catching an open air concert, visiting a farmer’s’ market, kayaking in the harbor or having lunch in Elmwood Village.”
6. Rochester, NY (Walk Score 60.9)
As famous as Rochester is for its cold, snowy winters, it is also well known for its spring and summer festivals, drawing visitors from around the world to listen to Jazz and smell the lilacs. Rochester’s Olmstead-designed parks and charming city blocks of restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques along Park and East Avenues make it a beautiful city to explore on foot. And recent redevelopment efforts mean Rochester is becoming more walkable.
Rochester’s Legacy Tower was just selected as the headquarters for the new American Photonics Institute, which is expected to bring many more jobs, workers and residents back to the city center. The recent development of College Town next to the University of Rochester offers another option for locals and students to live in and enjoy urban amenities.
7. St. Paul, MN (Walk Score 56.0)
St. Paul is Minnesota’s state capital and its second-most populous city. A tight network of thriving neighborhoods on the Mississippi River shoreline make walking and public transit appealing options for residents. “The city has invested in developing its downtown, including this year’s opening of CHS Field in Lowertown. The venue hosts the St. Paul Saints minor league baseball team, as well as community events like the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the Internet Cat Video Festival,” said Redfin real estate agent Chris Prescott.
Downtown St. Paul also has the most independent coffee shops of anywhere in the Twin Cities, Prescott noted. The METRO Green Line, which opened in 2014, connects residents within St. Paul, as well as to neighboring Minneapolis, though many St. Paulites feel little need to leave. “For visitors who like Victorian homes, I’d recommend checking out the Cathedral of St. Paul, and then exploring historic Summit Avenue, which was once home to F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis, and stopping to admire the governor’s mansion before ending on Grand Avenue, where there are several great dining options,” said Prescott.
8. Cincinnati, OH (Walk Score 50.1)
Recent investments, both public and private, have led to renewed growth in Cincinnati. Located in the in Central Business District (Walk Score 91), the Banks Project is an 18 acre development running along the Ohio River between Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium that will be the region’s largest mixed use development.
“Cincinnati has been making excellent progress when it comes to the walkability of the central business district, and the new streetcar system will significantly enhance the walkability of the downtown area once it’s completed,” said Trina Walton, a Redfin agent in Cincinnati. “Over-the-Rhine, with a Walk Score of 90, is one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Communities like Mariemont, Hyde Park, Northside, Pleasant Ridge and Oakley are also popular picks for people who want to live close to downtown and enjoy a walkable lifestyle.”
9. Richmond, VA (Walk Score 49.2)
In June, the median sale price in the Richmond area increased 10.3 percent and sales were up 35.4 percent year over year – the highest sales growth across all Redfin markets. Local Redfin agent Warren Teller says that neighborhoods including Carytown and The Fan, with Walk Score ratings of 92 and 89 respectively, are highly desirable among buyers.
“The charming, historic homes, tree-lined streets and proximity to an array of shops and restaurants are a potent combination, creating strong demand and bidding wars. While downtown was once thought of as a business district with most workers commuting in the morning and leaving in the evening, new developments in the Monroe Ward, Jackson Ward, Shockoe Bottom, and along the Riverfront are attracting residents who want to live and work in the urban center. On the other side of the James River, the Manchester area has more of an industrial vibe with converted warehouse lofts in close proximity to shops and cafes along Hull Street.”
10. Madison, WI (Walk Score 47.4)
While technically rated as a “Car Dependent” city, Madison has multiple neighborhoods that qualify as “Walker’s Paradises,” and the city as a whole is considered “Very Bikeable” with a Bike Score rating of 73. State Street, near the Wisconsin State Capitol, is a pedestrian-only zone home to numerous shops, cafes and street performers.
“Madison is a great place to live for people who enjoy walking, biking and other outdoor activities, especially along the scenic lakefront,” said Brian Callahan, a Redfin agent in Madison. “Marquette, Atwood, Regent and Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhoods are popular picks, as well as the downtown condo market, for people who want to be able to walk or bike for their day-to-day needs. And thanks to the influence of the local dairy industry, all of our rural roads are required to be paved, which makes for a smooth ride for bikers!”
To calculate the rankings, Walk Score analyzed over 10 million locations and computed more than 2 billion walking routes for 2,500 U.S. cities. The Walk Score ranking uses the Street Smart Walk Score algorithm that incorporates walking routes, depth of choice, pedestrian friendliness, population and neighborhood data. For this ranking of mid-sized cities, we looked at cities with populations between 200,000 and 300,000.