Best Riverwalk (2021)


In recent decades, cities across the United States have been revitalizing their river fronts, transforming them into vibrant spaces for outdoor recreation, nightlife, cultural activity and scenic views. 10Best editors partnered with a panel of urban planning experts to nominate 20 great American riverwalks. Then we asked you to vote for your favorites.

  • Detroit International RiverWalk

    Detroit International RiverWalk
    Detroit, Michigan

    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. The East Riverfront of the Detroit International RiverWalk stretches from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park and includes several parks, restaurants, splash parks and natural areas. 
    Photo courtesy of Stephen McGee / Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

  • Wilmington Riverwalk

    Wilmington Riverwalk
    Wilmington, North Carolina

    Located along the Cape Fear River, Wilmington's riverfront is 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 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.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / pabradyphoto

  • Schuylkill River Trail

    Schuylkill River Trail
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    More than 75 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail exist across five counties of historically rich Southeastern Pennsylvania. The multi-use trail runs alongside the revolutionary Schuylkill River. A notable section of the trail is a 30-mile stretch from Philadelphia to Parker Ford, passing through Valley Forge National Historical Park along the way. A highlight is the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk, where pedestrians and cyclists can walk or ride over the Schuylkill River while taking in skyline views from one of four scenic overlooks.
    Photo courtesy of M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

  • San Antonio River Walk

    San Antonio River Walk
    San Antonio, Texas

    The iconic San Antonio River Walk has a history dating back to 1937 when the Texas Legislature created the San Antonio River Authority. Since then, this vibrant downtown attraction keeps getting better and better. Restaurants, bars, hotels and an outdoor amphitheater line the canal, with pedestrian paths to either side and a series of picturesque stone footbridges spanning the water. Water taxis shuttle visitors along the canal, and everything's in walking distance of other attractions like the Alamo.
    Photo courtesy of

  • Smale Riverfront Park

    Smale Riverfront Park
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    At Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, 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.
    Photo courtesy of the Banks

  • Waterfront Park

    Waterfront Park
    Louisville, Kentucky

    Since 1986, Louisville's frontage along the Ohio River has undergone quite the renaissance with the introduction of the 85-acre Waterfront Park, an expanse of picnic areas, walking paths and sprawling green spaces. Visitors to the riverwalk enjoy picnic areas, playgrounds, boat launches and numerous public art installations.
    Photo courtesy of Waterfront Park

  • Bricktown

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Canal, a former warehouse district, is a hub of activity in downtown. Visitors will find restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, as well as the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the Oklahoma City Dodgers).
    Photo courtesy of Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Mississippi Riverwalk

    Mississippi Riverwalk
    Dubuque, Iowa

    The Mississippi Riverwalk in Dubuque makes up part of the 26-mile Heritage Trail, which links the Mississippi River to the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville. The Art on the River exhibit features 11 pieces of public art that rotate each year.
    Photo courtesy of City of Dubuque

  • Chicago Riverwalk

    Chicago Riverwalk
    Chicago, Illinois

    The beauty of the Chicago River is on full display along the city's Riverwalk. Visitors can ply the waters in a kayak, bike along the banks or even go fishing. There's al fresco dining along the water, as well as live local music and art exhibitions during the warm weather season.
    Photo courtesy of Ranvestel Photographic / Choose Chicago

  • Charles River Esplanade

    Charles River Esplanade
    Boston, Massachusetts

    The Charles River Esplanade in downtown Boston features a 64-acre park and 17 miles of running trails along the waterfront. The riverfront is also home to a community boat launch, a small seasonal cafe and an outdoor amphitheater for summer concerts.
    Photo courtesy of Jessica Dyer / Esplanade Association


The top 10 winners in the category Best Riverwalk are as follows:

  1. Detroit International RiverWalk - Detroit
  2. Wilmington Riverwalk - Wilmington, North Carolina
  3. Schuylkill River Trail - Philadelphia
  4. San Antonio River Walk - San Antonio
  5. Smale Riverfront Park - Cincinnati
  6. Waterfront Park - Louisville
  7. Bricktown - Oklahoma City
  8. Mississippi Riverwalk - Dubuque, Iowa
  9. Chicago Riverwalk - Chicago
  10. Charles River Esplanade - Boston

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning riverwalks!

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James Brasuell

James Brasuell

James Brasuell

Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

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Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman

10Best Editors

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