How Far is Nearby?

What “within walking distance” really means

Anaheim Convention CenterHotels and convention centers use the modifier “within walking distance” to describe proximity to city attractions as if the phrase had some objective meaning. Does it?

First, let’s define a reasonable, healthy walking speed as 3.2 miles per hour, which translates to walking one mile in just less than 19 minutes. This is based on research by British professor Richard Wiseman, who recently recorded average walking speeds in 32 cities around the world (

Here’s how some convention center and convention and visitor bureau sources across the country define “within walking distance.”

Anaheim, Calif.: up to three-quarters of a mile. Denver: 13 blocks or just less than a mile. Hartford, Conn.: 10 minutes or just more than half a mile. Indianapolis: 15 minutes or 0.8 miles. Kansas City, Mo.: eight blocks or a mile. New York: 15 blocks or 0.8 miles. Milwaukee: up to 1.4 miles. Minnesota: a mile. Palm Springs, Calif.: four blocks or 0.8 miles. Seattle: less than 10 minutes or 0.53 miles. Tampa: a mile.

These might be considered generous definitions. Luc Henau, chairman, special affairs, of the Netherlands-based IML Walking Association, considers walking distance to be no more than 1,000 meters, or 0.62 miles. And Jacklyn Wilson, executive director of the Universal City, Texas-based American Volkssport Association, a network of walking clubs, says for some of her members, “‘within walking distance’ needs to be no more than two city blocks -- and even then some will complain!” Of course, in the rain, all bets are off.