From fine dining to open-air concerts, these gorgeous river walks combine the beauty of nature with some stellar riverside attractions.
There may be no better way to enjoy the sunshine of a warm day than a stroll or bike ride along the riverside. Whether exploring the natural scenery, stepping into one of the dozens of local shops dotting a boardwalk or riverfront park, or indulging in a cocktail and trying some freshly made cuisine at a waterside eatery. These are some of the best and most famous United States, from the San Antonio Riverwalk to the Chicago Riverwalk.
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Ohio River Trail
WHERE: Cincinnati, Ohio
There’s no official “Cincinnati River Walk,” but the Ohio River Trail, which divides Kentucky and Ohio, travels through Cincinnati and boasts fantastic views of the downtown skyline, with multiple parks for entertainment and pit stops for food and drinks. Top destinations off the trail include Gardner Family Grove & Rose Garden, Carol Anne’s Carousel, and PNC Grow Up Great Adventure Playground, which are all located within Smale Riverfront Park. Stop for a bite or cold beer at Moerlein Lager House, which offers impressive river views from its wrap-around patio. Or, stop in for a specialty margarita and some appetizers for the table at Condado Tacos. For an authentic on-the-river experience, a stroll over the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge provides gorgeous views and a pathway to Covington, Kentucky’s quaint riverfront district.
WHERE: Louisville, Kentucky
Kentucky’s Waterfront Park offers visitors a spectacular waterfront walk experience and popular events hosting space (it’s home to the Kentuckiana Pride Festival, the Big Four Arts Festival, and the Forecastle Festival). The 85-acre park weaves along the Ohio River and sits at the base of Downtown Louisville. Walk across the Big Four Bridge, which is a 19th-century railroad bridge recently transformed into a pedestrian bridge, giving park-goers a chance to walk between two states, across the river from Louisville to Southern Indiana. From the bridge, walkers can catch amazing views of the park, the Louisville skyline, and the occasional barge or steamboat cruising below. At the base of the Big Four Bridge in Southern Indiana, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to explore, such as Parlour Pizza, Union Restaurant & Gameyard, and Pearl Street Treats. Waterfront Park is also a destination for some of the city’s most popular events.
The San Antonio River Walk
WHERE: San Antonio, Texas
The San Antonio River Walk boasts an array of things to do—including sightseeing, shopping, dining, and exploring an incredibly rich history. This world-renowned 15-mile waterway has been setting the standard for river walks internationally for decades. Visit La Villita Historic Arts Village, a community home to several art galleries and shops selling locally made jewelry, pottery, and folk art for souvenirs. Hungry? Step into Casa Rio, which is the oldest restaurant on the banks, or dine at Carriqui, which serves dishes that showcase fresh seafood, barbecue, and regional standards like nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, and soon-to-be-famous margaritas with a Texas flare. Next, visit the San Antonio Museum of Art to learn about the city’s rich cultural heritage. Finally, trek to visit the four historic missions at San Antonio’s Missions National Historical Park. This section consists of four Mission buildings and the famous Alamo Mission in downtown, which form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check into the Hotel Emma, which is housed in a former 19th-century brewery in the heart of the food-focused Pearl District.
The Chicago Riverwalk
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
Hosting a plethora of outdoor bars and restaurants that each offer stunning waterfront views—as well as a diverse collection of museums, pier fishing, boat trips, kayaking, public art, and bird-watching—there’s something for every age and interest to explore alongside the Chicago River. This riverwalk comprises six “coves,” each with its nickname, urban landscape, and activities. Visit RAISED, an urban rooftop bar, for unparalleled views of the water and some tasty food and drink options. Check out the “floating garden” located in the Jetty portion of the riverwalk between Wells and Franklin Street. Book a stay at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, located right on the riverwalk and an ideal home base to explore.
The Detroit RiverWalk
WHERE: Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit RiverWalk sits in the heart of downtown Detroit and hosts great views of the city and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. The riverfront features several parks, splash pads, amphitheaters, and attractions. This riverwalk has been quickly expanding, and now, development on the West Riverfront has begun, adding two more miles (5.5 total) to the riverwalk down to the Ambassador Bridge. Visit the GM Plaza in the Renaissance Center for some tasty food options—it’s also GM’s headquarters and the largest skyscraper in Michigan. And Dequindre Cut, also a part of the conservancy, is a popular biking and walking trail connecting the riverfront to Eastern Market—the largest open-air flowerbed market in the United States and the largest historic public market district in the United States–two miles north.
The Tampa Riverwalk
WHERE: Tampa Bay, Florida
The Tampa Riverwalk explores Downtown Tampa Bay’s vibrant and growing entertainment scene with an easily walkable path along the Hillsborough River, making for a sun-soaked, scenic stroll on the waterfront. This walk runs along the Hillsborough River to the Garrison Channel, taking visitors from the bustling Heights Market at Armature Works, through Curtis Hixon Park, to Sparkman Wharf. Pass through the bustling Channelside Bay Plaza and grab a Cuban sandwich from the Columbia Café before entering the Tampa Bay History Center. Continue north to The Sail, the perfect place for a relaxing drink in a 360-degree open-air waterfront bar. Set your home base as the Hotel Tampa Riverwalk, which offers prime access to all the riverwalk’s best attractions, or at the trendy Tampa EDITION, which is right off the water.
WHERE: Breckenridge, Colorado
Located at 9,600 feet above sea level, Breckenridge’s Riverwalk is one of the highest river strolls in the world and hosts unparalleled views of the Ten Mile Range and the Breckenridge Ski Resort areas. Stop by Blue River Plaza, which is the epicenter of the Historic Breckenridge and the Riverwalk path. Attend an outdoor yoga class on the Riverwalk Center lawn in the warmer months during the summer. Dine at Radicato, an elevated Italian dining experience that features a second-floor patio that overlooks the plaza and Blue River. The Breckenridge Distillery tasting room in the Blue River Plaza recently extended its tasting bar towards the River, offering water views. Set your home base as Gravity Haus, a hotel that’s walkable to the south of the riverwalk and features an adventurous and youthful atmosphere on-site.
Reno's Riverwalk District
WHERE: Reno, Nevada
Reno Tahoe’s booming downtown and lively Riverwalk District offer a friendly environment to actively celebrate Reno’s diverse arts, culture, and history. Visitors can experience an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, bars, and outdoor entertainment along the Truckee River. This stretch of water is home to over 75 businesses, four parks, and a collection of murals and sculpture parks (some even borrowed from the iconic Burning Man festival nearby). Visit the Reno Wine Walk each second Saturday of the month. Discover Reno’s growing craft beer scene at the local-favorite outdoor beer garden and community space, The Eddy, which hosts three bars and outdoor games. Dine at local-favorite restaurants such as Wild River Grille, which boasts excellent river views, especially at sunset. Set your home base as The Whitney Peak Hotel, which is within walking distance of the river, with its own on-site vertical climbing wall right up the side of the building.
The Tennessee Riverwalk
WHERE: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Stroll along the nearly completed Chattanooga Riverwalk, a 25-mile loop that invites visitors to immerse themselves in nature, culture, and cuisine. Explore a multitude of outdoor parks and an impressive collection of local art galleries and shops at the Bluff View Art District. This 1.5-mile stretch of breathtaking art galleries, charming coffee houses, lush gardens, and bakeries is a must-visit. Next, step into a local favorite shop or eatery, such as Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria, The Whiskey Thief rooftop bar at The Edwin Hotel, or Rembrandt’s Coffee House. Explore the Bluff View Sculpture Garden, an extensive two-acre outdoor art exhibit. Distance markers, restrooms, picnic tables, playgrounds, and Bike Chattanooga stations are along the path. The ideal anchor to explore Chattanooga is Bode, an innovative style of hotel that blends the convenience of a vacation rental while offering the luxuries of a boutique hotel.
The Riverfront Wilmington
WHERE: Wilmington, Delaware
The Riverfront Wilmington runs along the Christina River, where visitors and locals can explore many outdoor activities, including outdoor dining, art attractions, and shopping. Visit the Constitution Yards Beer Garden, which is open seasonally, and offers a changing rotation of craft beers and outdoor games like cornhole, axe throwing, and live music on the weekends. Stop by Mexigrill and tequila bar Taco Grande, which overlooks the riverwalk with outdoor seating, serving delicious margaritas and made-to-order guacamole. Next, enjoy a craft beverage at the local brewery, Iron Hill Brewery, and finish off the day with some friendly competition at the Riverwalk Mini Golf. Book a stay at The Westin Wilmington, a short walk from the river with great water views.
WHERE: Greenville, South Carolina
Live music, delicious cuisine, and impressive outdoor art installations are just a few of the standout attractions along Greenville’s river walk. Check out Papi’s Tacos and ask for the “Travelin’ Taco”—it’s not on the menu, but the resulting super loaded bag of Fritos and a fork won’t disappoint. Next, stop at the picturesque “Art Crossing,” where artists often bring their work outdoors on sunny days. Other fan-favorite eateries include UP on the Roof and The Lazy Goat, which are both perfect for a delicious meal. There’s also a splash pad for kids, and on warm evenings the outdoor amphitheater just across the Eugenia Duke bridge hums with live music. Set your home base as Grand Bohemian, a beautiful boutique hotel just steps from the riverwalk with a gorgeous water and suspension bridge view.
The Potomac River Waterfront
WHERE: Alexandria, Virginia
The Potomac River waterfront walk offers picturesque rambles along a centuries-old historic shoreline. Discover D.C.’s iconic monuments, ample riverside dining, photo-ready artwork, and more. Discover Tide Lock Park’s Neoclassical sculptures, and stroll south toward Jones Point Park, home of the last remaining riverside lighthouse in the Chesapeake Bay area. Alexandria’s waterfront dining scene continues to grow, debuting fun concepts such as BARCA Pier—a seasonal outdoor eatery inspired by Barcelona’s beach bars. Set your home base as Hotel Indigo—Alexandria’s first waterfront hotel, just a stone’s throw away from the Potomac River.
The Napa Riverfront
WHERE: Napa, California
Downtown Napa is already known as wine country’s most walkable destination, but the Napa Riverfront, in particular, feels like a trip abroad to Italy with world-class dining, shopping, and accommodation options. Stroll along the riverfront to spot some local wildlife, or ride on an authentic Venetian gondola to experience the river from a new perspective. Fun photo-ops include various public art displays such as “the big chair” and “cha-cha steps.” Pop into an award-winning restaurant such as Iron-chef’s Morimoto Napa, or enjoy a wine and chocolate pairing at Vintage Sweet Shoppe. Occasionally, visitors can even catch a live music performance at the riverfront Veteran’s Park or visit a vintage car show during the annual Napa’s lineup of events. Set your home base as the River Terrace Inn, which sits directly on the river.
Providence’s Waterplace Park and Riverwalk
WHERE: Providence, Rhode Island
Providence’s Waterplace Park and Riverwalk spans roughly a mile, featuring plenty to do, see, and taste. Here, visitors will discover numerous quaint shops, restaurants, and a collection of historic landmarks. It’s the best place to experience the iconic annual WaterFire event, a multi-sensory art installation that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. There’s no shortage of dining options along Providence’s waterways. Visit Hemenway’s to satisfy any craving for locally caught seafood. There’s also the original Capital Grille, which opened in Providence in the 1990s overlooking WaterPlace Park, with expert internationally sourced pairings of dry-aged meats and wines. Just off the river, the trendy Rooftop at the Providence G has a retractable glass rooftop and fire pits with a stunning and unobstructed view of Providence’s famous skyline. Book a stay at the Graduate Providence, a luxurious and historic property just steps from the water.
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
WHERE: Portand, Oregon
Stroll along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, and visit Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Here, visitors can take in panoramic views of the city and experience a multitude of annual festivals, including the weekly Portland Saturday Market. The waterfront park’s 100 Japanese cherry trees bloom in the spring for an incredibly magical experience. Check out events like the Waterfront Blues Festival, which takes place right on The Tom McCall Waterfront Park and boasts the largest fireworks display in Oregon. Set your home base as Hotel Grand Stark, an artfully re-designed historic boutique property in the trendy Central East neighborhood.