Paving Your Own Path: Be Your Own Guide When You Tour These Cities

posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 6:31:21 PM

Boston Historic Acorn Street on Beacon Hill

From double-decker buses to electric-powered bikes, there are numerous ways to explore new destinations. While each mode of transportation has its perks, there’s nothing better than seeing the city as the locals do: on foot and at your own pace. Without having to keep up with a large group, you’re able to adjust your time according to your preferences—and you can see what you want, when you want. Curate the way you experience new places when you go on one of these self-guided walking tours. Full of must-see attractions, these tours makes it easy to get started on the right foot.

Chicago

No matter the reason you’re visiting, the Windy City will blow you away with its Midwestern charm, urban excitement and beautiful bodies of water. On your upcoming getaway, learn more about Chicago’s bold architecture, passionate sports and world-class museums through a self-guided walking tour. Begin by overlooking the city at Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Gain a birds-eye perspective of the exhilarating city, and if you’re feeling brave, snap a photo on the glass balcony extended four feet outside the tower’s 103rd floor. For a glimpse into Chicago’s performing arts scene, pay a visit to the flashing marquees of Chicago Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre and Goodman Theatre. Even if you can’t commit to a performance, a tour of the historic buildings will add to your Windy City adventures. Also known as “Chicago’s backyard,” Millennium Park is a hot spot for some of the city’s most popular attractions. Marvel at the crystal-clear reflection of yourself and the skyline at the Bean, then reconnect with nature at Lurie Gardens, an award-winning, 2.5-acre garden. After checking out the urban oasis, fulfill your very own Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at one of the oldest and largest museums in America. At the Art Institute of Chicago, don’t miss out on the remarkable collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

Nashville

Aptly nicknamed “Music City,” Nashville eats, sleeps and breathes all things entertainment. With an array of culturally rich buildings, lively bars and intimate music venues on every corner, downtown Nashville is easy to conquer on foot, and there are plenty of walking tours to help guide you. Discover the sound of historical and present-day Nashville at Ryman Auditorium, a famous venue that is considered the “Mother Church of Country Music.” While it’s also known as the birthplace of bluegrass music, the Ryman draws in artists of all genres from around the world, specifically for its revered acoustics. If you’re unable to attend a live performance, test out the hall for yourself or reimagine the moment Johnny Cash and June Carter first met. Dating back to the times of Prohibition, the distinct saloons and bright lights of Printer’s Alley were once a staple of Nashville’s nightlife. While the area has had its ups and downs, you’d be remiss to pass the alley without dropping in one of the bars. If you’re looking for more entertainment, look no further than Honky Tonk Highway. Giving other cities a run for their money, Nashville’s Broadway is renowned for its bustling honky-tonks and world-class live music.

Boston

Founded in 1630, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., sprinkled with remarkable sites wherever you go. Its rich history is what makes it a remarkable destination. If you want to see the best of Boston, walk along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile path made up of 16 historical markers. With a scenic view of towering buildings and New England beauty, Boston Common, considered the oldest public park in the U.S., is the perfect mix of classic and contemporary and a great spot to begin your tour. Soak up some history at one of its several monuments or feel like a local at the park’s frequent scavenger hunts. Next, head to the corner of Tremont and School Streets towards King’s Chapel. It may look like your typical church, but it is anything but. While it was the city’s first Anglican church in 1686, the current stone chapel was built around its original wooden structure in the mid-1700s. Wander in for the church’s concert series or arrange a tour for a more in-depth look at its interiors. As you make your way in the North End neighborhood, reimagine the legendary ride at the Paul Revere House. Nearby, the Paul Revere Statue is the most photographed statue in all of Boston. No trek through the city would be complete without a photo at the top of Bunker Hill Monument. You have to climb 294 steps, but it’s well worth the view.

New Orleans

Once the original city, the French Quarter is one of the most historic neighborhoods in New Orleans. Even though some of its areas have been reimagined and modernized, you can find detailed, Spanish-style architecture and rich, long-lasting culture at every turn when you tour the city by foot. Surrounded by historic buildings, Jackson Square provides plenty to do and see, including the St. Louis Cathedral, one of the most recognizable and imposing attractions in the French Quarter. It’s the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic cathedral in the U.S. and is sure to impress with its ornate interiors. As you marvel at the extraordinary stained-glass windows and the Rocco-style, gilded altar, take the opportunity to light a candle to honor a loved one. Next to the cathedral, The Cabildo and The Presbytère have no shortage of treasured artifacts of Louisiana’s past. Check out the exhibits exploring the history of Mardi Gras and the events of Hurricane Katrina. To truly embrace the city’s spirit, follow the massive crowds to the famous Bourbon Street, a classic New Orleans icon. While it’s one of the oldest streets in America, it surely isn’t old-fashioned. It’s well-known for its lively jazz, flying beads and neon lights in the heart of the French Quarter.

Los Angeles

Home to the nation’s film and television industry, Los Angeles boasts a variety of attractions. While some travelers settle on Hollywood or Beverly Hills for their sunny adventures, downtown Los Angeles is a must-see with its blend of old and new and is ideal for a walking tour. Located on South Broadway, the Broadway Theatre District allows you to feel the glitz and glam of old Los Angeles. The 12 historic theaters were built in the early 1900s, and if you want to get a glimpse of their unique interiors, you can attend one of their live productions and cultural events. Nearby, stock up on some library favorites at the Last Stand Bookstore. The far-from-normal shop doesn’t just buy, sell and trade second-hand books but also features unique art galleries, themed rooms and an array of book signings and music performances. Afterward, transport yourself through time at Angels Flight® Railway, an adorable funicular dating back to 1901. Considered the shortest railway in the world, the vintage gem makes an appearance in numerous films, including La La Land. Before you leave the City of Angels, be sure to swing by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the city’s architectural masterpiece. You can tour the one-of-a-kind building for free, or you can enchant your evening with a dazzling live performance.

Washington D.C.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. is a hub for government activity and iconic monuments. There are numerous self-guided tours of the city, where you can surround yourself with the multitude of museums and breathtaking sights as you soak up stories of America’s humble beginnings. Start your day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has a wide variety of exhibitions and galleries to explore. Spend your day wandering the museum’s two public spaces, the Luce Foundation Center for American Art and the Lunder Conservation. If you’re looking for a more unique museum experience, head over to the Newseum. Take part in interactive news and journalism exhibits exploring the 9/11 attacks, First Amendment rights and more. On the 6th story balcony, be sure to take advantage of the stellar view of the U.S. Capitol. Located opposite from the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol has served as the meeting place for the House of Representatives and the Senate for over two centuries. Opt for one of their free tours and see how the interiors compare to the building’s gorgeous exterior. Perfect for book lovers and history nerds alike, the Library of Congress holds the largest collection of books and manuscripts in the world. While you can’t check any of them out, you can at least get a glimpse of the collection with the building’s self-guided and guided tours. 

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