Created by the National Heart Association, National Walking Day – which is April 3 – has been set aside to encourage people to walk 30 minutes a day. Walking is a healthy, low-impact activity without many requirements to participate; you don’t need expensive equipment, or be particularly fit to do it.
For all of its many benefits, I find I am most drawn to walking because it's a fun and easy way to learn new things. For me, the very best way to explore a city is to lace up my comfy shoes and take a walk. It is in walking that I'm able to slow down and notice the delightful details of a city that I cannot discover if I am behind the windows of a bus or keeping an alert eye on traffic as I drive.
Walking allows me the opportunity to read historic markers and admire architectural flourishes that I otherwise would miss if I were in a vehicle. With my feet on the pavement, I can connect to my surroundings and more closely observe the world around me.
In honor of National Walking Day, here are a few of my favorite places to walk in Milwaukee:
1. The Oak Leaf Trail
With 125 miles of multi-use trails, it is the jewel of Milwaukee County Parks system and Wisconsin’s longest paved trail. My favorite Milwaukee walk on this trail is a lakeside stroll that I begin at Veterans Park following the path alongside Lincoln Memorial Drive to Kenwood Boulevard, where I continue my walk thorough Lake Park. This Olmsted-designed greenspace was created with strolling in mind and I meander my way through the winding paths, passing ravines and long loved landmarks, like Lion Bridge, exiting the park at the Grand Staircase, where I walk along the shore until I return to Veterans Park. Lake Michigan enthusiasts are sure to enjoy this 4.5-mile walk.
2. Grand Avenue
For an urban walk, nothing beats the simplicity of moving from Westown to the Milwaukee Art Museum along Wisconsin Avenue, formerly known as Grand Avenue. A walk that begins around 10th and Wisconsin Avenue will take you past some of the best of old and new Milwaukee, and leave you excited for the promise of what is to come. In just over a mile you’ll see the old-world grandeur of Alexander Mitchell’s former home, past the Wisconsin Center as it begins to prepare to host the 2020 DNC, peek in at the progress being made in the former Grand Avenue Mall space and continue on to one of Milwaukee’s best loved landmarks, the Milwaukee Art Museum. Along the way, you’ll pass a number of historic buildings, works of public art and maybe even pick up a bite to eat from one of the food carts on this well-traveled street.
3. Forest Home Cemetery
Linger in the past while wandering the 200 acres of paths that take you through the history of Milwaukee from 1850 into the present day. Gates open each morning at 8 a.m. and there is enough space to allow for a tranquil, pensive walk along the monuments of those who have passed before us.
Milwaukee is filled with great places to walk, whether you prefer the peaceful Seven Bridges Trail in Grant Park, or window shopping walk along Kinnickinnic Avenue, there is always something new to discover along the path you choose. This year, in honor of National Walking Day, grab a friend for a ramble along the KK River Parkway, or lead your colleagues on post-meal mini-hike along the 20 block RiverWalk alongside the Milwaukee River.
Whichever route you chose, the time is right to get out there and enjoy walking in Milwaukee.