Can you walk to the drugstore from your house? Your hotel? We stumbled upon a nifty site called Walk Score that will tell you in seconds flat.
The site plugs itself as a resource for real estate buyers, but we think it’s also invaluable for travelers when picking a hotel or getting an idea of the distance between attractions. Who wants to stay in a hotel miles from nowhere? A cute café, restaurant, or shopping district within walking distance can mean the difference between a crummy vacation and one filled with local charm. It can also alert you ahead of time if you’ll need to rent a car. Scores range between "Walker's Paradise" (90 - 100) and "Driving Only" (0 - 25).
The project was inspired by the Sightline Institute, a Seattle think tank which works toward sustainable projects "grounded in place," with a focus on the Northwest. They created a map to illustrate the difference in walkability in neighborhoods (a compact community versus a suburban community).
Just for kicks, we picked two hotels at random that were recently highlighted in National Geographic Traveler's “Hotel Central” section. The Ambassador Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, got a score of 71 out of 100. This is what Walk Score calls a "Very Walkable" place where you can get by without a car. The hotel is a stone's throw from a bookstore, movie theater, coffee shop, grocery store, bar, and more. Sounds like a pedestrian mecca!
The Inn at East Beach in Santa Barbara, California, got a less appealing score of 51. This means there were some walkable locations, "but many
everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car."
While Walk Score admits it isn't perfect—it calculates distances "as the crow flies"—it's still a great tool for travelers and homeowners alike.
How walkable is your community?