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Historic Walks and Trails in America

  • Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

    Freedom Trail, Boston

    Boston is where Paul Revere and other key figures of the American Revolution held their ground. You can relive the city's fascinating past along this brick-lined, 2.5 mile route that links 16 key stops, including churches, museums and graveyards. Follow this urban trail on your own, or join one of the guided tours offered year-round by interpretive guides portraying period characters in Colonial garb.

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  • Sean Pavone/Alamy

    Wall Street, New York

    There's no formal walk here, but who cares? Just stepping onto the hallowed ground of this financial hub delivers a good dose of financial landmarks. The iconic bull statue at Bowling Green Park is a good place to start. Walk north (uptown) on narrow Broad Street to Wall Street, named for the 17th-century wall built to prevent incursions by hostile Native Americans. Visit Federal Hall, where George Washington was first sworn in as president; the Federal Reserve Building (tours are available); and the New York Stock Exchange (alas, no tours offered since 9/11). Nearby is Zuccotti Park, site of the 2011 launch of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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  • Giulio Andreini/Alamy

    National Mall, Washington, D.C.

    This is an undeniably impressive all-American amble. The two-mile-long stretch of green is bounded by the U.S. Capitol on one end and the Lincoln Memorial on the other. Rising 555 feet above it all is the flag-encircled Washington Monument. Sights along it include monuments to three presidents; war memorials, such as the somber, moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the newest addition, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial; and the extraordinary Smithsonian museums. Do this walk on your own or on one of the "Free Tours by Foot" jaunts.

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  • Sean Pavone/Alamy

    Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia

    Considering that cars weren't invented when this town, the 18th-century capital of Virginia, was settled, exploring it on foot seems fitting. Download a free interactive tour on to your smartphone or tablet, and then wander through the 301-acre historical area. Many of the 88 original residences, civic buildings and commercial structures are open to the public and staffed by costumed docents, some of whom demonstrate the crafts and trades — from basket weaving to wheelwrighting — of long ago.

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  • Jon Hicks/Corbis

    Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

    How does Lassie have one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon? They both have stars on this legendary route. More than 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars honor actors, directors, composers and other key entertainment-industry figures along a roughly two-mile stretch of Hollywood and Vine Streets. Two dozen new stars are awarded each year in ceremonies that are open to the public. They are posted about a week in advance on the Walk of Fame website, so check ahead and you may be able to catch one and take in some celebrity glitz.

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  • Barbary Coast Trail

    Barbary Coast Trail, San Francisco

    Kidnappings, sunken ships, bar brawls and adventurers in search of impossible wealth — it's hard to believe that a city as gentrified as San Francisco has a past that sounds like the plot of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This 3.8-mile route uses bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalks to stitch together significant places and moments, from the 1849 Gold Rush to the 1906 earthquake. Feeling hungry? No worries — this walk passes plenty of great restaurants that serve everything from fresh crab to dim sum.

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  • Luca Tettoni/Corbis

    Koloa Heritage Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

    Tear yourself away from Poipu Beach long enough to follow this trail commemorating 5 million years of natural history, archaeology and culture on the southern tip of Kauai, the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain. Brass plaques share rich details on everything from sacred shark gods and temples called heiaus (pronounced hay-ows) to missionaries and sugar plantations. You can go on foot, or rent bikes in Poipu and travel the 10-mile route on wheels.

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  • Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
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