Urban Walks in Marrakesh, Paris, Rio, Seoul, St. Louis, Sydney and Zadar

Visitors enjoying the afternoon sun in the Jardin de Luxembourg.
Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

This floral-focused stroll in Paris is the favorite of Sandra Sigman, the celebrated florist and author of the book “French Blooms,” about the distinctive French style of flower arrangement. Just short of three miles, it weaves through the gardens, green spaces and flower shops of the 6th and 7th arrondissements.

“I love the French approach to gardens,” said Ms. Sigman, 56. ”Although the spaces themselves are quite formal in their design, that doesn’t stop people from relaxing and enjoying their beauty.”

Start at Champ de Mars. The park surrounding the Eiffel Tower is always filled with blooms, and if you get there early, you’ll miss most of the crowds. From the park, head southeast on Rue Saint-Dominique to Boulangerie Laurent B, a sweet bakery with an enticing vintage charm. The canelé and pain au chocolat are the crowd favorites.

The walk begins in the Champs de Mars, the park surrounding the Eiffel Tower.Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times
The Esplanade des Invalides offers a stunning scenic walk with museums and monuments everywhere you look.Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

Continue along Rue Saint-Dominique, which will drop you in the center of Esplanade des Invalides. More of a park than a garden, it offers a stunning scenic walk with museums and monuments everywhere you look, like the Musée de L’Armée and Napoleon’s tomb.

Leave by way of Rue Saint-Dominique and head east until you hit Rue de Bellechasse. There, on the corner, sits Adriane M. Fleuriste, which boasts an expansive outdoor floral display. It’s as if “the shop itself can hardly contain all the beauty,” said Ms. Sigman.

On the corner of Rue de Bellechasse sits Adriane M. Fleuriste, with an expansive outdoor floral display. Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

The five-minute walk to the next stop is lovely: Head southeast on Rue Saint- Dominique to Blvd. Saint-Germain, then veer off on Blvd. Raspail to Rue du Bac to 69 bac, a lovely flower shop whose name echoes its address. You’ll have to search for it, but you’ll know you’ve found it when you see flowers peeking out of the building and into the street. Follow the blooms down the corridor to the entrance of the shop.

Just a block away, poke into Barthélemy, one of the neighborhood’s most charming cheese shops. For lunch, stop next door at Le Café Pierre Hermé. Sit in the courtyard and order the croque monsieur, a tea and a salted caramel macaron, advised Ms. Sigman.

Barthélemy is one of the neighborhood’s most charming cheese shops. Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

Following lunch, it’s time to shop. From Le Café Pierre Hermé, make your way back to Rue de Bac, where in less than two blocks, you’ll come to La Maison du Bac, a shop dedicated to the art of tablescape, brimming with antique and new vessels perfectly suited for flower arranging.

Continue on Rue de Bac to Rue de Babylone, where on your right you’ll pass Square Boucicaut, a quaint city park with a carousel. The route from here to the next stop is less than a mile, though it takes a series of turns; from Rue de Babylone you’ll take Rue de Sèvres to Rue du Four to Rue de Rennes to Rue de l’Abbaye until you reach Rue de Furstemberg and the petite floral shop Oz Garden, which offers a highly curated and unusual selection of flowers and plants.

On the Rue de Furstemberg, the petite floral shop Oz Garden offers a highly curated and unusual selection of flowers and plants.Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

Its organically styled bouquets feel as though they’ve been freshly picked from the garden.

The delightful square surrounding Oz Garden is made up of narrow, tucked-away streets packed with small independent shops, including the tiny and fragrant spice shop, Compagnie Française. From here take Rue de Seine to Rue de Tournon — just a short 10-minute walk — and arrive at Astier de Villatte, a lovingly curated shop of antiques and tableware. Unconventional vases are a great way to add flair to your floral design and here you’ll find beautifully crafted porcelain pieces. Make your way to the back of the shop to see the displays of plates, vases, tureens and more that stretch from the floor to the ceiling.

The square surrounding Oz Garden is packed with small independent shops, including the tiny and fragrant spice shop Compagnie Français.Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times
Astier de Villatte specializes in antiques and tableware. In the back of the shop, the displays stretch from the floor to the ceiling.Credit…Joann Pai for The New York Times

Astier de Villatte faces the Palais du Luxembourg, which places you perfectly for a stroll through Jardin de Luxembourg, a classic Parisian park filled with friends picnicking, couples strolling hand-in-hand and children pushing toy sailboats around the duck pond. Just like the palace, which was built in the 1610s for Italian-born Queen Marie de’ Médicis and modeled after the Palazzo Pitti of Florence, the gardens feel royal. In true French garden fashion you’ll find precisely trimmed hedges, symmetrical placements of unique flowers and impressive potted urns.

Distance: 2.95 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good for kids: The parks and gardens are ideal for children, but the shops are not child-centered.

Time to walk: From two hours to almost five with stops to shop and eat.

An ancient cylindrical building of pale stone is surrounded by other ancient buildings, among them a very old, slender, five-story stone building with a tall, steep roof. A wall of stones extends halfway across this scene. Above, the blue sky is cloudless.
The cylindrical, ninth-century Church of St. Donat is among the sites along this nearly two-mile route in Zadar.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times

A nearly two-mile walk circumnavigating Zadar’s Old Town is a journey across a timeline that spans nearly every stage of Croatian history. And it’s a long history, dating back to the 9th century B.C., when the Liburnians first settled this peninsular spit of land on Croatia’s spectacular Dalmatian coast.

Start your stroll on the northwest corner of the peninsula at the Morske Orgulje, or Sea Organ: a set of 35 pipes spread under a 230-foot section of the city’s seaside promenade, known as the Riva. Awarded the 2006 European Prize for Urban Public Space, the Morske Orgulje plays beautifully discordant melodies as the Adriatic laps the stone and pushes air through the pipes beneath — converting the walkway into an invisible, ethereal orchestra.

After the tidal concert, continue past the “Greeting to the Sun” installation (you’ll have a chance to linger there at the end of your walk) and around the Old Town’s northeast corner.

The Sea Organ in Zadar is a set of 35 pipes spread under a 230-foot section of the city’s seaside promenade, known as the Riva.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times

Continue southeast, walking along Zadar’s harbor-facing walls, constructed and reinforced between the 12th and 17th centuries as part of the Venetian Republic’s Adriatic defense network.

Before moving on, stop at the Garden Lounge, which sits atop the fortifications with views of ferries shuttling passengers to nearby islands, for a local Garden I.P.A. (3.50 euros, or about $3.75), then walk along the walls until you reach the City Bridge on your left. Take a right through the Nova Vrata, or New Gate — an archway built during Italy’s pre-World War II occupation — and into the pedestrian-only Old Town.

People’s Square is the city’s cafe-strewn main piazza.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times

Make your way to People’s Square. The city’s cafe-strewn main piazza is the site of Town Hall and is defined, on its western edge, by the street known locally as Kalelarga, Zadar’s main thoroughfare since the Romans laid its grid in the first century B.C.

Hang a left on the ancient avenue’s southern extension, Elizabete Kotromanić Street, which changes names three times as you pass the coral-colored Baroque Church of St. Simeon, walk under a solitary pillar from Zadar’s Roman Forum, and cross the expansive Petar Zoranić Square, where you can view layers of history — Roman and medieval — frozen in time under glass.

Go right onto Trg Pet Bunara Street, which leads to Five Wells Square. Guarded by the 85-foot Kapetanova Kula (Captain’s Tower), the wells provided the city water during a 16th-century, Ottoman Empire siege. Climb the stairs to the tranquil Queen Jelena Madijevka Park, established in the early 1800s as one of the region’s first public parks. From this elevated vantage, you’ll look south over tiny Foša Harbor and your next two stops.

A view of tiny Foša Harbor.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times
The waterside Restaurant Foša is a good stop for a leisurely meal.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times

The first is the monumental Land Gate, the most ornate of the wall entrances, built in 1543 with carvings of Venice’s winged lion and Zadar’s patron saint, Chrysogonus. Then walk halfway down the harbor, where it opens to the sea, and take a waterside table at Restaurant Foša. The grilled sea bass with sunchoke purée and vegetables (€34.51) and a glass of local white pošip wine (€7) will provide fuel for your journey’s final stretch.

At the harbor’s end, turn north to walk the length of the 19th-century Riva, the city’s seaside esplanade. “The Riva is where friends and family meet,” said Iva Bencun, the managing director of Zadar Outdoor Festival, which hosts activities both here and on the island of Ugljan, a 25-minute ferry ride across the channel. “This is also where we find peace and realize our troubles are not that big after all.”

The walk ends at “Greeting to the Sun,” a circle of nearly 4,100 square feet of solar panels embedded in the promenade.Credit…Sara Granic for The New York Times

As daylight wanes, find your own peace near the Riva’s pier to witness the city’s famous sunset, which Alfred Hitchcock once called “the world’s most beautiful.” With the scattered ruins of the Roman Forum, dating to the first century B.C., and the cylindrical, ninth-century Church of St. Donat behind you, follow the sun’s last flash into the sea. Then, finish your loop, appropriately, at “Greeting to the Sun,” a circle of nearly 4,100 square feet of solar panels embedded in the promenade that absorb energy all day and provide a pulsing light show all night.

Distance: 1.75 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Time to walk: About two hours, allowing time to linger.

Good for kids: Yes. The mostly car-free walk mixes history, the sea and science into a fun, varied outing.

A group of women in long, colorful, traditional Moroccan robes and head coverings, congregate in a plaza with a surface of geometrically arranged pale brown tiles. There are covered market stalls in the background, more people and various buildings.
Jemaa El Fna, the ancient neighborhood where Marrakesh was born, is the start of a 2.2-mile walk.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

The wail of snake charmers’ horns will lead you to your departure point: Jemaa El Fna. This carnivalesque, open-air market in the medina — the ancient neighborhood where Marrakesh was born — brims with juice stands, restaurants and souvenir shops, to say nothing of musicians and performers.

Before you embark on this meandering 2.2-mile walk, you should have water and sunscreen (summer temperatures can pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit in this Moroccan city); outfits that cover most of your skin (doubly useful in Islamic societies, which discourage revealing clothes); and a willingness to lose your bearings. Nearly twice the size of Central Park, the medina enfolds a vast spider web of passageways that seem designed to disorient outsiders.

Walkers will pass shops selling an eclectic array of goods.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

A good strategy is to follow well-known thoroughfares while allowing ample time to duck through beckoning doorways or slip into side alleys. Succumbing to detours is essential. Making strict timetables is folly.

If you lack a golden thread, a decent map will return you to the beaten path.

A compelling route from Jemaa El Fna that reveals multiple Marrakesh personalities starts at the white horseshoe archway leading to Rue Riad Zeitoun el-Kadim. Walking southward on the uneven cobbled street, you’ll encounter sensory stimulation at every step. Sounds of clip-clopping mule carts and portable radios blaring Arabic pop music mingle with smells — fresh-baked bread, foul drains, rosewater perfumes and spices.

A spice store on Place des Ferblantiers.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

Small shops and lone peddlers display their wares: palm-woven baskets, bottles of golden argan oil, silvery jewelry inlaid with colored stones. Many people wear floor-length caftans or hooded djellaba robes. You’ll see just as many sport jeans, sneakers and T-shirts.

The street opens onto the palm-lined Place des Ferblantiers, humming with cafes and crowds. Cross to the southern gate and behold the soaring battlements of El Badi Palace (70 dirhams admission, or about $6.85), a glorious 16th-century ruin that is now a peaceful place to wander. Stone paths, wooden catwalks and mosaic-tiled floors carry you over sunken gardens and through unburied, ruined chambers while storks look down from their nests atop the ramparts.

Interior and exterior views of El Badi Palace, a glorious 16th-century ruin that is now a peaceful place to wander.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times
Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

As you walk eastward along Rue Bahia Bab Mellah, you’ll pass residential lanes on your right. The one called Derb Talmud Tora leads to the former Jewish quarter, the Mellah, which was built in the 1500s to house the many Jewish refugees fleeing Spain after the defeat of the Moors in 1492. (Only around 100 Jews remain in Marrakesh.) Halfway down the street is Slat Lazama, a synagogue and museum (10 dirhams admission) with a vaulted prayer hall and lovely interior courtyard. A few blocks farther east lies the Jewish Cemetery, a haunting sea of white horizontal gravestones.

The Jewish Cemetery, a haunting sea of white horizontal gravestones, in the former Jewish quarter.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

Hair salons, pharmacies and machine shops materialize as you turn northward from the Mellah and head up Rue Djane Ben Chegra and then Rue Laarassi. This residential area is a reminder that more than 100,000 people sleep, work, study and raise families in the medina. The noises of electric saws, rumbling wheelbarrows and schoolkids shouting in darija — the Moroccan dialect of Arabic — echo off the high ocher walls.

Zigzagging east down Rue Sidi Boulabada and then north again along Rue Bab Ahmad turns up crowds of customers at ramshackle pushcarts and tiny storefronts selling shrieking chickens, skinned lambs, crates of tomatoes, boxes of cucumbers, sticky pastries glazed with honey. Scooters buzz through the crowd like bees. Be ready to leap aside.

Nearly twice the size of Central Park, the medina in Marrakesh enfolds a vast spider web of passageways.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

At the fountain, take the rightward fork into Rue Tachenbacht and push upward to its own covered food market. Just beyond it, a perpendicular street on the left is your doorway into another dimension of the medina. Strolling westward along Rue Bin Lafnadek, you hear people speaking Spanish, Italian, English and especially French as djellabas and caftans give way to designer sunglasses and New Balance sneakers. Art galleries, design shops and fashion boutiques glow with chic creations. This is the edge of the medina’s international design scene and the souks, where traditional artisans ply trades ranging from woodcarving to metalwork to glassware design.

A view of the Jamaa El Fna market square.Credit…Imane Djamil for The New York Times

The Maison de la Photographie de Marrakesh (50 dirhams) is an ideal rest stop. The restored old mansion exhibits historical photos of Morocco, and its shady roof terrace provides quiet and refreshment. A lemonade with mint leaves (16 dirhams) and a tagine bubbling with meatballs in tomato sauce (80 dirhams) will fortify you for the next leg of your journey.

Distance: 2.2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Time to walk: Two hours, which allows time for lingering

Good for kids: Yes

People walk along two adjacent paths, divided by a long patch of lush grass in the daytime. Bordering the path on the right is a low fortress wall. Over the wall, houses can be seen in the distance below.
People stroll in Naksan Park, where a walking path follows the curve of the Seoul City Wall.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

To walk along the Seoul City Wall is to walk in the footsteps of scholars of bygone centuries, trace scars of war and take in the modern behemoth of a city built around it all. Its history stretches back to 1396, to when present-day Seoul first became the capital of what was then a kingdom called Joseon.

Then, the wall encircled an area that’s but a small fraction of today’s sprawling city, incorporating the slopes of the four mountains that afforded natural fortification. Like Seoul itself, the wall has been destroyed and rebuilt several times — and after restorations in recent decades, it’s become a popular urban walk.

Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

Exploring the entire 12.5-mile loop would take a whole day, but you can take in the most scenic parts, along its northern half, in about four hours. Pick up the trail on the loop’s western edge, a short distance uphill from Muak Children’s Park, and follow its immediate steep ascent, going clockwise along the wall.

About 15 minutes in, you’ll skirt a giant boulder and come to your first vista point, which reveals the wall snaking between the trees, the Seoul Tower and nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Next is a short descent followed by another heart-pumping climb. Three quarters of a mile into the walk, you’ll be standing atop the first of three mountains, the 1,100-foot-high Inwangsan. You’ll see signs for “Hanyangdoseong,” as the wall is known in Korean (“Hanyang” is the historic name for Seoul). Make a sharp left coming down from the peak to find the trail. As you descend, start looking for stones marked with Chinese characters embedded in the wall — there are around 290 of them, bearing the names of the people who constructed sections of the wall.

Carvings bear the names of the construction workers who toiled to build the fortress wall during the Joseon dynasty.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times
The painted ceiling of Changuimun Gate.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

Stay along the wall and follow signs for Changuimun Gate, the first of four gates you’ll encounter on the walk. (There were originally eight along the wall; six remain.) Cross a couple roads to get to the gate, on the other side of which you’ll find the quaint Buam-dong neighborhood.

Before tackling the next ascent, refuel here with orange vanilla cake and fig-and-Earl Grey scones at Scoff Bakehouse, or dumpling soup at Jaha Son Mandu, which has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and a glimpse of the fortress wall.

A view of the fortress wall from Inwangsan, the 1,100-foot-high mountain. Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

Walk back through the gate, and up a set of wooden steps past a green fence topped with concertina wire to continue onto the next mountain, Bugaksan. As the wall curves ahead, you’ll get a view of its exterior, showing the varying stones and masonry from the different eras of construction. You’ll encounter your steepest climb yet, with a breezy deck rest area halfway up. Here, the security cameras and warnings about photography serve as a reminder of the continuing division on the Korean peninsula. North Korean commandos once scaled this mountain in a foiled 1968 assassination attempt of the South Korean president, and the mountain was closed off to the public until 2007. Just past the peak, you’ll find the bullet-riddled pine tree from the incident.

A steep ascent on Bukaksan mountain.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times
The tree marked with bullet holes from the foiled 1968 assassination attempt.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

The descent has groves of handsome pine trees that lend a serenity belying the tense history. Follow signs for Sukjeongmun Gate, the northernmost point, then follow signs for Waryong Park, which has chirping birds and lush trees. As you reemerge to city views in Seongbuk district, the low slung homes just outside the towering wall help you imagine the exclusion the city wall once forged. At the edge of the park, the wall comes to an abrupt end. You can make a short detour here for refreshments, like jujube tea or squash shaved ice, at the nearby Suyeonsanbang teahouse. The building boasts of a beautiful yard and a hanok, a traditional tile-roofed building.

The walk next takes you through small city streets, with signs on electric poles guiding you to Hyehwamun Gate. See how the city was rebuilt after the Korean War, with people incorporating remaining parts of the wall as foundations for their homes. After the gate, cross an eight-lane major thoroughfare to pick up the trail on the other side.

Two people take a selfie at the Naksan section of the fortress trail.Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

The final section of the walk, on the modest mountain of Naksan, is a gentle stroll by colorful rooftops and dotted with trendy cafes. It’s best walked at dusk, when the wall is lit up and the city below begins to shimmer. As this hill comes to an end, you’ll see ahead both Heunginjimun Gate and the Zaha Hadid-designed, neofuturistic Dongdaemun Design Plaza, like a spaceship inexplicably landed in the midst of the city.

Credit…Jun Michael Park for The New York Times

Distance: Approximately 7 miles

Difficulty: Moderate to difficult, involves steep stairs

Good for kids: The Naksan section, between Hyehwamun Gate and Heunginjimun Gate, is best for younger children.

Time to walk: 4 hours, including stops. (This walk may be best during the week, as it can get very busy on weekends and holidays.)

Two people sit on grass overlooking the sea. Ahead of them is a small island with trees, and behind that is a city skyline.
Milk Beach, with its views of the Sydney skyline, has a secluded shore ideal for a swim stop during a walk along the Hermitage Foreshore track.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Few cities are so abundant with forest-like parks, coastal walks and beaches as Sydney, which is best explored on foot. If you do one hike here, the Hermitage Foreshore track has it all. The trail offers a side of Sydney’s eastern suburbs most visitors don’t see. Grand old houses meet lush bush, calm water, endless swimming opportunities and a new city view at every turn. It’s uncrowded and relaxed, and despite the blue-chip surrounds, it is delightfully unpretentious.

The official 1.2 mile trail runs from Bayview Hill Road in Vaucluse, a well-to-do harborside suburb, and leads north to Nielsen Park; but you can extend the walk by continuing all the way up to the ferry wharf and waterfront restaurants at Watsons Bay and on further to the tip of the South Head peninsula. The extended version is about 4.3 miles one way, though it can be done in parts. Allow three to four hours for swims, snack stops and drinks along the way.

Walkers on the Hermitage Foreshore track near Queens Beach, in the Vaucluse suburb.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

If you are driving, leave your car parked around New South Head Road and weave down through Vaucluse to the end of Bayview Hill Road, where the track starts.

This stretch of coast will impress even the most jaded Sydneysider and is filled with glistening views of Shark Island, Fort Denison and some of Sydney Harbour’s famous landmarks, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Stroll north to Milk Beach, an ideal stop for your first swim. This shore features rocky overhangs that act as sun shade, and some of the best city views over the water. The secluded beach sits right below the heritage-listed Strickland House, a cream-coloured estate whose manicured gardens are open to the public from sunrise to sunset.

Banksia grows along the track.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times
Sunbathers at Camp Cove.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

After a dip, ascend the bluff back to the trail between Milk Beach and Nielsen Park, which winds around craggy sandstone cliffs. Inhale the scent of eucalyptus and red gums, and keep your eyes open for native white flannel flowers and the feathery pink petals of blueberry ash. Next, you’ll wander through Nielsen Park, a tree-lined public reserve. (On its adjacent bay, Shark Beach — which is safer than it sounds, because of its large shark net — is being upgraded and is closed to swimmers until early 2024.) At the north end of the park, take the pedestrian path that hugs the coast, rather than continuing along the road.

The tree-shrouded Parsley Bay is an idyllic spot for a picnic and a swim off its small jetty.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Once you leave Nielsen Park, the next section of the walk is mostly through the residential backstreets of Vaucluse and is an opportunity to admire its mansion-lined streets. The signage to Parsley Bay, a tree-shrouded U-shaped bay, is rather discreet, so keep an eye out for a narrow laneway on the left-hand of the road.

That path descends between houses to an iconic white footbridge that suspends across the small bay. This area is an idyllic spot for a picnic and a swim off the small jetty, which you’ll find by following the honey-colored rocks to the spot where you will see others slipping into the water. Then dry yourself in the sun and drink in the salty air.

A path to Gibsons Beach Reserve winds past homes.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Exit Parsley Bay up a northbound set of stairs near the small jetty and walk along the Crescent, a suburban street, to Hopetoun Avenue and then Palmerston Street to get to Gibsons Beach Reserve (the south end of Watsons Bay). Continue north along the shore towards the enormous Moreton Bay fig trees, stopping in for a coffee and cake at Baithouse in the Tea Garden, a cafe in Watsons Bay next to a waterfront library. Or for a refreshing ale in the sun, grab an outdoor table on the deck at Watsons Bay Hotel.

Camp Cove Kiosk serves coffee, orange juice and ice-cream.Credit…Petrina Tinslay for The New York Times

Watsons Bay can be the end of the walk. If you have an extra mile in you, continue north along the beach on Marine Parade, a road that weaves through the streets of historic miners cottages (now tightly held real estate), and down to Camp Cove Beach, a protected, glassy cove sitting right at the mouth of the Sydney Harbor. At the north end, a laid-back beach kiosk serves coffee, orange juice and ice-cream. This is also where you’ll get on the South Head Heritage trail. Follow signs to the heritage-listed Hornby Lighthouse, which is still active today, past Lady Bay Beach (for nudists) to South Head, where the harbor meets the ocean at its famously narrow opening. Waves pound the cliffs below as sailboats skim across the water heading to the north harbor suburbs of Mosman, Balgowlah and Manly.

Distance: 4.3 miles (7 kilometers)

Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat.

Good for kids: Yes

Time to walk: 3 to 4 hours, with stops

Where to eat/fill up your water bottle: Baithouse in the Tea Garden, Watsons Bay Hotel, Camp Cove Kiosk

Public transport: At the end of the walk, if you are taking public transport home from Watsons Bay or back to your car parked at the beginning in Vaucluse, you can get on a bus at the Military Road terminal in Watsons Bay. Bus numbers 325 and 380 leave from here regularly. You can also take a ferry from Watsons Bay directly back into the city to Circular Quay.

A wide silvery arch dramatically soars into a blue sky, above a flat parklike area. In the background is a bridge and city buildings.
The 630-foot-high Gateway Arch, which is at the end of a two-mile walk, is probably the most recognizable site on the Brickline Greenway in St. Louis.Credit…Michael B. Thomas for The New York Times

A few hundred yards from the entrance to CityPark, the splashy new soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis, another urban landmark looms: a cluster of hour-glass-shaped sculptures called “Pillars of the Valley,” by the local artist Damon Davis, that pays tribute to some 20,000 residents of a Black community that was forced from this location in 1959 to make way for a freeway. Standing amid its pillars on a recent afternoon, I leaned in close to read a former resident’s inscription in the stone: “What we lost in the destruction of our Mill Creek Valley neighborhood was a community we relied on to survive.”

Pillars of the Valley is one of several sites on the new Brickline urban walking trail, or “greenway,” that highlights the city’s Black presence. St. Louis loves its greenways. Two decades ago, voters passed a one-tenth-of-a-cent sales tax to create a special agency, Great Rivers Greenway, that would create these shared recreational pathways in order to make the St. Louis area “a more vibrant place to live, work and play.”

Along the Brickline Greenway, a cluster of abstract, angular sculptures called “Pillars of the Valley,” by the local artist Damon Davis, pays tribute to some 20,000 residents of a Black community that was forced to make way for a freeway in the mid-20th century.Credit…Michael B. Thomas for The New York Times

But Brickline, the agency’s latest brainchild, is as much a greenway as a public reckoning of the city’s racist history — and its impact on Black residents today.

A work in progress, the Brickline’s creation was shaped, in part, by the 2014 riots in nearby Ferguson, Mo., and the police shooting of Michael Brown. When it is finished in 2030, 10 miles of new trails will connect 14 mostly Black St. Louis-area neighborhoods.

On a warm spring afternoon, I checked out the two-mile completed section of the Brickline, this portion a straight shot from the intersection of Market Street and 22nd Street to the riverfront’s iconic Gateway Arch.

A bronze sculpture of the attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, the first Black woman on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, stands in Kiener Plaza.Credit…Michael B. Thomas for The New York Times

At the beginning of your walk, it’s worth lingering at the “Pillars of the Valley” installation, which humanizes abstract tales of the mid-20th-century’s federal urban renewal program. As the writer Walter Johnson puts it in “The Broken Heart of America,” his book about the city’s racial politics: “History in St. Louis unfolded at the juncture of racism and real estate.”

Continue along Market Street, where you’ll be swept along with a downtown work crowd, past the beautifully restored St. Louis Union Station and the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station. Soon you’ll reach Citygarden, a cool, urban sculpture park where bubbly fountains and colorful flowers are on full display — along with St. Louis’s sizable downtown homeless population who, on the day I was there, seemed to prefer hanging out in this garden. Standing nobly in nearby Kiener Plaza, briefcase in hand, is a bronze sculpture of the attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, appointed in 1964 as the first Black woman on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

The Old Courthouse is the site of the landmark Dred Scott court case in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that Black people were not entitled to citizenship.Credit…Michael B. Thomas for The New York Times

Freeman’s statue sits in the shadow of the Old Courthouse, the site of the landmark Dred Scott court case in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1857 that Black people were not entitled to citizenship. The Old Courthouse and the surrounding area is currently undergoing a major renovation, which at $380 million is billed as the largest public-private partnership in the history of the National Park Service.

As you continue your walk toward the Mississippi River, you’ll likely see throngs of tourists gathered at the base of the 630-foot-high Gateway Arch, snapping photos in the plaza. The majestic arch, plagued by its own history of displacing poor Black residents during construction in the early to mid-1960s, is Brickline Greenway’s final stop. If you’re hungry after the two-mile stroll, you can stop at the park’s Arch Cafe, which boasts an eclectic farm-to-table menu that includes everything from St. Louis ribs to toasted ravioli. (Many locals favor Kimchi Guys, a Korean eatery just north of the Arch on Laclede’s Landing.)

The Old Courthouse and the surrounding Gateway Arch area are currently undergoing a major renovation.Credit…Michael B. Thomas for The New York Times

Or you can do what I did: Look out at the Mississippi River, thinking of the challenges St. Louis faces in breathing new life into Black neighborhoods while avoiding even more racial strife. Brickline Greenway seems to be spiriting the city in a positive direction. But as history proves in St. Louis, bringing white and Black people together is rarely a walk in the park.

Distance: About two miles

Difficulty: Easy

Time to walk: About 45 minutes, allowing time to linger

Good for kids: Older children are more likely to appreciate the complex stories behind some of the sites along the way, but smaller children will love Gateway Arch National Park and the play areas in Kiener Plaza.

A wide, swirly, black and beige walkway runs between a beach and a road lined with boxy modern buildings. Pedestrians in shorts, T-shirts and other casual clothing stroll along the walkway. In the foreground is a bronze sculpture of a man with glasses, sitting in a thoughtful pose.
A stretch of Copacabana Beach is included in a five-mile walk in Rio de Janeiro. In the foreground is a sculpture of the Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

For first-timers, a five-mile stroll along Copacabana and Ipanema beaches — Rio de Janeiro’s two most fabled sand parentheses — will stir up feelings even in those who have long and unironically listed “walks on the beach” as a favorite pastime.

Such reactions may range from counterfactual nostalgia (“Imagine coming of age in a place like this”) to cultural aha moments (“Bossa nova makes so much sense now”) to medium-term reverie (“What are the rules on Brazil’s digital-nomad visa again?”).

More than 20 visits in, I still turn some kind of emotional every time I return to Rio and set foot on the boardless boardwalk where the vast majority of this stroll takes place. Brazilians call such a beachfront sidewalk the “calçadão,” but forget pronouncing it and focus on its official sound: a thousand flip-flops slapping the wave-patterned Portuguese pavement.

A statue of Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian racing driver, stands alongside Copacabana Beach.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

The route is simple: Walk along the first beach, cut inland briefly to skirt a rocky peninsula, and then walk along a second beach. Stop for refreshment at the countless kiosks along the way. As the desire strikes, turn left for a dip in the water or right for an urban foray.

Start midafternoon on a sunny day — the Rio beach scene under gray skies is like Italy during a pasta shortage. Weekends are good, December to February summer weekends are better, and Sundays are ideal, as the city closes the adjacent beachfront avenue for throngs and thongs of promenading locals.

A man sells towels on a wide stretch of Copacabana Beach.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

Sneakers or flip-flops will do, but please no sandals with socks: Rio de Janeiro beaches accept all body types and locals are accustomed to touristy foibles like baggy bikinis and gringo skin broiled to the color of juicy shrimp, but even they draw the line somewhere. Take sunscreen, a credit card — wireless tap to pay is nearly ubiquitous, even at street vendors — and keep your smartphone buried in your pocket. (This is one stretch of Rio where tourists can walk by day in relative safety, but still.) No need for a step counter; keep track of progress by the lifeguard posts (postos) along the way, numbered 1 to 12.

A surfer washes his surfboard on Leme beach, near the beginning of the walk.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

Start at the northernmost end of Leme Beach (which soon becomes Copacabana), taking the time to stroll out to “Fisherman’s Path” along the rocks to say hi to the bronze statue of Clarice Lispector, one of Brazil’s great 20th-century novelists, or to actual, potentially more responsive, fishermen. Then pass the scene around Posto 1, with young people sunbathing and playing altinha, the show-offy, keep-the-soccer-ball-in-the-air game.

Arpoador Beach is known best for morning surfers and late-afternoon sunset applauders. Above, a seaside outdoor gym.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

Posto 2 means you’re in Copacabana, at once touristy (because of the hotels) and diverse (thanks to public transportation). It’s crackling with energy, foot volleyball, sand sculptures and one notable non-sand sculpture of Ayrton Senna, the championship Formula 1 driver who holds near-Pelé status around here. Stop and stare at the Copacabana Palace, the French Riviera-inspired hotel, opened in 1923 and still classing up the beach.

Not far past Posto 6, your first beach comes to an end at Fort Copacabana. Cut across on Francisco Otaviano Street for three-plus blocks, ducking through a park to Arpoador Beach — known best for morning surfers and late-afternoon sunset applauders, but also home to a charming little peninsula-top park.

A statue of the Brazilian composer and musician Tom Jobim in the Arpoador Beach area.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

Between Postos 7 and 8 is your next bronze statue, the guitar-toting Tom Jobim, composer of (what else) the bossa nova classic “Girl From Ipanema.” If it’s a Sunday, detour one block to General Osório Square for crafts at the Hippie Market, then head toward the finely sculptured human specimens near Posto 9. This might be the time to take a break on the sand — a friendly neighborhood beach chair renter will magically appear.

If you haven’t left the beach yet, consider turning right on Rua Vinícius de Moraes (named for the lyricist of “Girl From Ipanema”) onto the posh Ipanema neighborhood’s main drag for either ice cream at Vero or an icy guava juice or grilled sandwich at Polis Sucos.

In the Ipanema neighborhood, Polis Sucos is a good spot to stop for lunch.Credit…Ian Cheibub for The New York Times

Then cut back to the beach and cross the canal and you’re in the mellower (even posher) stretch known as Leblon. From the end of the beach, climb the short but winding road to the lookout point or, even better, head inland to join the local crowd at Boteco Boa Praça and order a chopp: There’s a lot more of Rio to get to, but there’s no Rio at all without an icy, foamy draft beer at the end of a beach day.

Distance: Five miles

Difficulty: Easy, because it’s almost entirely flat, but you’ll get hot and sweaty on a sunny day.

Time to walk: Two and a half to three hours, with lingering.

Good for kids: Probably not the best bet for young children given the length, and the fact that they’ll probably be more interested in playing on the beach.

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