Carolyn Kruse

Carolyn Kruse

Ask anyone who lives near Boston, or has visited Boston, one of their favorite places to walk or run. Chances are they will tell you, The Esplanade.

The walking paths around the Charles River are legendary. The stretch of walkways from the Museum of Science to the BU Bridge is beautifully positioned to wind along the waterfront. But there’s so much more to it than that. Precisely why USA Today readers named The Charles River Esplanade as one of it’s  10 best riverwalks across the U.S. It made the list of  its 2023 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards.

Find out where Boston ranked, what’s so special about this walkway and who else made the list of the Best Riverwalks in the USA, below.


  • 1. Detroit International RiverWalk - Detroit, Michigan

    USA Today shared their readers’s delights in proclaiming Detroit International River Walk to be #1 again this year; “The riverfront redevelopment in Detroit, a city with 14 miles of shoreline along the Detroit River, is one of the city’s most exciting initiatives.” It also includes includes several parks, restaurants, splash parks and other natural areas for exploration and relaxation.

  • 2. Tampa Riverwalk - Tampa Bay, Florida

    Chiming in at #2 this year is The Tampa Riverwalk. It was created to connect the businesses, parks and museums along the riverfront in Tampa, Florida. According to USA Today, “It also serves as a central spot for performances, art, leisure and fitness activities. At 2.6 miles long, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy along the way, from restaurants to museums, not to mention the scenery.”

  • 3. Waterfront Park - Louisville, Kentucky

    There has been quite a revitalization of this gem of a walkway. The Waterfront Park in Louisville has undergone a remarkable makeover since opening in 1986, along the Ohio River. The introduction of an 85-acre Waterfront Park, an expanse of picnic areas, walking paths and sprawling green spaces have brought this space to new heights. Visitors enjoy picnic areas, playgrounds, boat launches and many public art installations.

  • 4. Smale Riverfront Park - Cincinnati, Ohio

    Here, at Smale Riverfront Park, “visitors can watch the river traffic float by, cycle along the Ohio River Trail, buy fresh produce at the Castellini Esplanade farmers market, cool off in the Fath Fountain or stop to smell the flowers in the Gardner Family Grove and Rose Garden” (USA Today).

  • 5. Mississippi Riverwalk - Dubuque, Iowa

    The 26 mile Heritage Trail hosts the Mississippi Riverwalk in Dubuque. The Riverwalk links the Mississippi River to the Field of Dreams site, which is in Dyersville, Iowa. The popular Art on the River exhibit includes rotating pieces of public art

  • 6. San Antonio River Walk - San Antonio, Texas

    The famous San Antonio River Walk dates back to 1937 when the Texas Legislature created the San Antonio River Authority. Ever since, this thriving downtown attraction keeps getting better. The canal is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and an outdoor amphitheater. Walkers and runners delight in the paths that run on either side. Plus, there are charming stone footbridges along the way. USA Today reports: “Water taxis shuttle visitors along the canal, and everything’s in walking distance of other attractions, including the Alamo.”

  • 7. Wilmington Riverwalk - Wilmington, North Carolina

    You’ll find the Wilmington Riverwalk along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. It’s home to a “colorful riverwalk lined with more than 200 cafes, bars and shops. Just across the river, history buffs can tour the moored battleship USS North Carolina. The annual Riverfest, held each October, brings hundreds of craft and food vendors to the riverfront for three days of live music, fireworks, a mock pirate invasion and a standup paddle race,” according to USA Today. 

  • 8. Charles River Esplanade - Boston, Massachusetts

    And here we are! Boston’s iconic waterfront along the “banks of the River Charles” features a 64-acre park and 17 miles of running trails. Let’s not forget The Charles River Esplanade’s historic Hatch Shell, famous for it’s concerts and July 4th celebrations. The Esplanade also features a seasonal cafe and a very affordable community boat launch. 

  • 9. Milwaukee RiverWalk - Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Connecting 3 neighborhoods with a 20 block pedestrian promenade on both sides of the Milwaukee River, the RiverWalk is home to someof the city’s best outdoor dining. Restaurants and brewies border both sides of the RiverWalk. Meanwhile, the RiverSculpture outdoor art gallery features a collection of temporary and permanent work from national, regional and local sculptors.

  • 10. White River State Park, Indiana

    As USA Today points out White River State Park is Indiana’s only urban state park. It runs right through the heart of the city with a sprawling 250 acres of green space. Plus there is a 1.5 ile canal for kayaking or pedal boating.  The city has turned the once industrial canal into a beautiful swan…” a vibrant commercial and cultural center. The Canal Walk promenade stretches through White River State Park in a 3-mile loop, providing convenient access to walkers, bikers and sightseers.” (USA Today)

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