On my latest trip to Chicago (look for a story on June 24), I consumed nine tacos, three doughnuts, an Indian crêpe, a giant tamale, a mound of carnitas, a bowl of pasta and a table full of Vietnamese food. How did I not gain 15 pounds? Well, I also walked 8 to 10 miles per day — which is typical for me when I travel.
Exploring a city on foot has so many benefits. I stumble on unique gems that I likely wouldn’t find otherwise. I hear neighbors talk to each other. I suddenly feel like a local, which in my opinion is the best thing to feel when you visit a place. As a bonus, you can eat more.
Here are a few tips for planning your next walk-cation:
Pick your highlights and pin them. First, figure out what you most want to do or see, and then plot your findings. The Google Maps app allows users to custom label any address or landmark with names and little flags that pop up when you look at the map as a whole. This way, you’ll easily see which of your favorites are within walking distance of each other.
Think neighborhoods. Consider using your highlights as jumping-off points for neighborhood crawls. Research the borders of a neighborhood, map out the main streets and hit the pavement. Walking is the best way to get a sense of an area’s character and what it has to offer. Stop at anything you find interesting.
Do the distance. Checking out a park? Walk its circumference before leaving. A museum? Take the stairs between levels. Want to lounge on the beach? Walk a mile on it first.
Track your progress. Pedometer apps are easy to find by searching the phrase in your smartphone’s app store. Watching the miles tick upward is motivating.
Dress in a versatile style. With all this walking, you’ll need the same outfit to span breakfast, lunch and dinner. And don’t forget to wear a good pair of walking shoes.
Amelia Rayno covers food and travel for the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @AmeliaRayno