Want to see the best of a city? You could try an open-top bus tour or a coach tour. You could get in a car and drive around. You could hire a bicycle and pedal through highways and byways. But if you really want to get the feel of the place, the unchallenged winner is to walk. Boston is a good example of a city that is best discovered on foot.
If you are in a historic city like Boston, there are many must-sees, whether your interest is in history, culture, or nature. It pays to plan your walks in advance if there are things that you would regret missing. Spend a happy 30 minutes with a map and guidebook, marking the places you want to see and sorting out your route. Or use one of the ready-made routes that are available. For Boston, the classic route is the Freedom Trail around the city center.
Once you have ticked off the sights you cannot miss, you are free to wander a little more aimlessly. In many cities, you only need to step outside your hotel and walk in the general direction of interest. You could come out of the Marriott Boston hotel and within a few minutes be admiring the world-renowned campus of either Harvard University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, before strolling along the Charles River waterfront.
Walking helps you to see things you would miss if you had to watch the traffic. You can look up (something we don’t do enough of) and see the city as it would have appeared to its residents a century ago before the street level was “cosmopolitanized.” You can look down and notice the plaques in the sidewalk which commemorate events of long ago at that very spot. You can look around and spot the side alleys leading to quirky little shops.
When walking, you can be confident that you will find things that others will miss. It is much easier to take photographs while on a walking tour. You can just stop and take as long as you need to frame the picture, which on a bus or car would be gone before you turned on the camera.
You will be free to stop whenever you feel like eating or drinking. Coffee breaks and snacks are an important part of the city hike—there are so many opportunities and you always feel you deserve it. Yes, you can check out Tripadvisor for the best restaurants, but the ones that you will cherish, and tell your friends about for years, are the extraordinary local ones that you come across by accident.
All This and Fitness Too
There are so many reasons why walking is the best way to discover a city and to get a feel for its unique character. And all the time you are walking, you are looking after your body and mind. What more could you want?