Staying fit and healthy while traveling can be a challenge. Travelers in a hurry to get from one place to another tend to grab fast, unhealthy food wherever they can, and budget hotels often lack fitness facilities. But the experience can be different for owners of a fitness tracking device. The market leader, Fitbit, has ingrained in users the idea of getting to at least 10,000 steps a day. Here are 11 great cities where it's easy to reach that goal just by taking a walk or two. You'll be so busy soaking in the history, nature, and culture that roughly 5 miles will be behind you in a blink. (Quoted airfares reflect searches in early October for round-trip tickets in mid-November.)
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In the center of London, one of the world's great walkable cities, historical sights lie in all directions. From Trafalgar Square, for example, it's less than a mile to Buckingham Palace or the prime minister's office at No. 10 Downing St., just over a mile to the shops of Oxford Street, and less than a half-mile to Piccadilly Circus. Starting at the Houses of Parliament, it's only a short stroll to the river Thames. And with the pound sterling at historic lows against the U.S. dollar, it's a good time to visit. Getting there: Tickets were as little as $540 on Virgin Atlantic from New York and $419 on WOW Air from Los Angeles (stopping in Reykjavik).
Start spreading the news: In New York, walking often beats fighting traffic, jamming onto the subway, or hailing a taxi. Consider starting in front of Rockefeller Center, where the tree will be lit Nov. 30 to Jan. 7. Window-shop along Fifth Avenue, stopping to admire St. Patrick's Cathedral and walking north until you reach the storied Plaza Hotel. Cross Central Park South and walk west for a glimpse of other glamorous New York hotels. Enter the vast, green expanse of the park at Center Drive and meander the southwest corner, seeking out the Pond, Wollman Rink, and the Central Park Zoo. Even then, you've covered only a fraction of the park's 843 acres. Getting there: The best price from Seattle was $354 (on JetBlue Airways, returning on Alaska Airlines), while visitors from Boston could fly with JetBlue for only $87.
It would be hard not to exceed the 10,000-step minimum in San Francisco. With its steep hills, it's a good replacement for a stair climber, as well. Start at the Fairmont hotel in well-heeled Nob Hill. Head one street down to Powell and walk north through Chinatown. Go past Washington Square to Lombard Street, where a right turn leads to Pioneer Park and Coit Tower, with its commanding view of the city -- all told, a little over a mile. Then walk down Telegraph Hill (keep an eye out for the famous parrots and beautiful gardens) to the waterfront. A left along the Embarcadero eventually leads to the famous Fisherman's Wharf, capping an additional 2-plus miles. Getting there: The lowest price from Portland was $147 via United Airlines; the same trip starting in Chicago cost $202 on Frontier Airlines.
Begin a walk around this historic city along the Mississippi River in front of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and go a half-mile along the river to Woldenberg Park. Do a circuit and head up Conti Street to enjoy the sights of old New Orleans on the way to Royal Street. Take a right turn to Place de Henriette Delille, and another right down Pirate Alley into Jackson Square. After taking in sights and sounds there, go across the street to Café du Monde for a reward of beignets and coffee. Then head back out again, because all that adds up to only about a mile and a half. Getting there: The best price from Los Angeles was $217 on Spirit Airlines, and from Philadelphia it was $260 on United.
A favorable exchange rate makes it a good time to visit this beautiful Canadian city. Start at the SeaBus terminal downtown, cross the street to the Vancouver Convention Centre and walk west along the seawall, checking out the cruise ship and seaplane terminals. Continue on the seawall around Stanley Park to see the Lions Gate Bridge, Coast Mountains, English Bay, temperate rainforest, and several wonderful beaches before arriving downtown again. Walkers will come out with a surplus of steps: The perimeter of the park alone is more than 5.5 miles. Getting there: From Pittsburgh we saw a flight for $371 on WestJet; the best price from Palm Springs was $331 on Alaska.
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This one is almost too easy: Set out on the Freedom Trail. It runs for 2.5 miles through some of the most historic parts of the city, from Boston Common to the Granary Burying Ground, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere's House, and the USS Constitution. Boston Common can also be the starting place for exploring the shops of Newbury Street and cozy Beacon Hill, before finding a tasty meal, pastry, and bubble tea in Chinatown. Getting there: The best deal from Detroit was $156 on JetBlue, and from Phoenix it was $334 on Sun Country Airlines, returning on Spirit.
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The City of Light is an intense feast for the senses, from the smell of croissants to the quiet lapping of water along the Seine. A great place to start a Paris walk is at Île de la Cité, one of two islands on that river and home to Notre Dame Cathedral. From there, it's less than a mile across Pont Neuf to the Louvre Museum. For those with energy after a walk through the Louvre -- far more than 10,000 steps on its own -- the famous Tuileries Garden is right in front. Getting there: A ticket from Boston (with a stop in Montreal) was as little as $515 on Air Canada, while starting from San Francisco on Brussels Airlines could set you back $767.
At first blush, this doesn't seem like a destination for budget travelers. But from Paris it's worth considering a $124 round-trip by train to Monaco, a country you can walk around in a day. A scenic journey of six to seven hours brings you to the historic beach, famous casino, royal palace, and a harbor full of yachts likely unmatched anywhere else. Visitors who want to stay a while can easily wander from the waterfront train station into the town of Beausoleil, France, where Booking.com showed a seven-night stay at a 3-star apartment hotel for as little as $563.
Walking is at the heart of the Barcelona experience, starting with a stroll down Las Ramblas, the tree-lined thoroughfare with historic churches, an open-air market, the old port, and a maritime museum. From there, seek out some amazing architecture by Antoni Gaudí, including the arresting Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia, the famous Sagrada Familia basilica, and the signature buildings of Park Güell in the hills overlooking the harbor. Getting there: The best price we found from New York was $550 on Royal Air Maroc, and from Seattle, $971 on Aer Lingus.
The City of Brotherly Love is home to an iconic movie moment -- when Rocky Balboa, training to win the big fight, runs through the streets and up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rocky Balboa Run follows the route Nov. 12, and the course map is available year-round for walks or runs that duplicate cinematic history with either a 10-mile route or a 5K. Getting there: The best price from Chicago was $170, and flights from Portland, Ore., started at $356, both on United.
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Seattle has lots of hills for a cardio workout, and inspiring views. Start at Pike Place Market and take the steps down to the waterfront. About a mile north is the Seattle Art Museum's 9-acre Olympic Sculpture Park. Or walk south about a mile, past the aquarium, the Great Wheel, and the ferry terminal, then head back uphill to First Avenue. Turn right toward Underground Seattle, a section of the city that was built over after a giant fire in 1889. If there's room in the budget, a tour is another good way to add steps. Tickets are $20 for adults and $9 for children. Getting there: From New York, round-trips start at $279; from Los Angeles, $110 -- again, both on United.
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