5 Best U.S. Cities to Explore on an Electric Scooter

  • Brian Leon is a freelance automotive journalist and former Associate Editor of the New York Daily News Autos. He is currently a master student at Uppsala University in Sweden studying marketing and completing a thesis in the area of trust in autonomous vehicles.

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Electric scooters and other rideables are taking the nation’s cities by storm, offering residents and tourists alike yet another way to get around. For urban areas where public transit is limited and walking distances can be long, apps like Bird and Lime make short- to medium-distance travel more feasible. With these apps, getting the most out of your visit to a city is easier than ever.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with the five best U.S. cities to explore on an electric scooter, listed below in alphabetical order.

Each city on the list meets a certain set of criteria for accessibility, safety, and interesting attractions. Bird and Lime – the two most popular electric scooter apps – also have a presence in each city. And because electric scooters are meant only for road or bike-lane use, we used data from People for Bikes to choose urban areas that have at least a rating of 2.5 stars out of 5.

Austin, Texas

Austin Texas Skyline and River
Austin is the epitome of Texas cool, and is famous for its barbecue and live music, both of which you should make an effort to experience. (Unsplash)

Austin has transitioned from a cool college town to a major U.S. tourist draw in recent years, and for good reason. But public transportation is limited to buses in the city, and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are banned, leaving cabs as the only other option. With a score of 2.8 from People for Bikes, Austin is easy to get around on an electric scooter. Just stick to spring, fall, or winter as the summers can be scorching.

Famous for both live music and barbecue, Austin has no shortage of either. Skip the line at Franklin and head to La Barbecue (where you can order in advance online) or Micklethwait on the east side of the city. At the end of the day, head down to South Austin for some live music at C-Boy’s Heart & Soul or some dancing at the famous Broken Spoke.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis Minnesota
Though it can be brutal in the winter months, Minneapolis is becoming a cultural and artistic hub for the Midwest and is great to explore via electric scooter. (Pexels)

Though the winters can be brutal – and we suggest avoiding the use of an electric scooter from November to March – Minneapolis has no shortage of museums, parks, breweries, and markets to visit during the city’s fairer months. A score of 2.9 from People for Bikes, makes it relatively scooter-friendly, and though a light rail and bus system covers much of the city, electric scooters provide a great way to get to harder-to-reach places.

Check out the Mill City Museum downtown in what was once the world’s largest flour mill for farm-to-market history and great views on the observation deck. In the spring and summer, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a great place to get to by scooter in order to take a walk around to admire the artwork. At the end of the day, head east to Surly Brewing for microbrews made on site and a variety of grub, but don’t scoot home after a few brews, needless to say.

Portland, Oregon

Portland Oregon Sign
Portland has no shortage of coffee shops, restaurants, and other quirky attractions, so make use of either Bird or Lime to explore both the natural and urban sides of the city. (Pexels)

Portland is still keeping it weird, and that makes it a great city to visit, especially by scooter. A combination of light rail and bus make the transit system adequate but fairly limited, so bikes are a very popular way to get around. As such, Portland is great for scooters too, with a score of 3.3 from People for Bikes.

Portland is famous for its gorgeous outdoor spaces and cool coffee shops and restaurants. Check out the Japanese Garden on the west edge of the city for one of the most beautiful spots in town, then head back in and grab a coffee and a donut at any of Blue Star’s many locations. End your day at one of the many distilleries along Distillery Row, but take a cab or Uber home when you’re finished…

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica Pier, California
Located just outside of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a perfect smaller city to explore by scooter, from the bustling boardwalk along the beach to the numerous trendy restaurants. (Pexels)

Los Angeles County is too large to explore on electric scooter alone, but a Bird or Lime can be a great way to get around certain areas without a car. Santa Monica is perfect for this, with a bike and scooter-friendly rating of 3.2 from People for Bikes, so take the train or light rail out to the beach and hop on one.

M Street Kitchen is famous for its breakfast and lunch options, so start your day there and take a ride over to the California Heritage Museum for a slice of history in a Victorian Mansion dating to 1894. Of course, no visit to Santa Monica would be complete without spending some time walking the pier, so end your day back on the boardwalk.

Washington, D.C.

Capitol Building Washington DC
Negate the need for a bike or Segway tour by making your own scooter-guided tour of the National Mall memorials and museums, followed by a trip to some of D.C.’s most famous non-memorial attractions. (Pexels)

The nation’s capital may have the most attractions per square mile of almost any city in the world, but most of the highlights are spread out along the National Mall and beyond. An electric scooter can be the perfect option for visiting as many monuments and museums as you can handle, negating the need for using public transit. A score of 3.2 from People for Bike makes this a great and safe option, too.

Use your scooter to get along the Mall from the Jefferson Memorial all the way to Capitol Hill. When you’re done for the day, you’ve probably earned your meal at Ben’s Chili Bowl, the legendary D.C. joint that’s hosted everyone from tourists to sitting presidents.


About the Author

  • Brian Leon is a freelance automotive journalist and former Associate Editor of the New York Daily News Autos. He is currently a master student at Uppsala University in Sweden studying marketing and completing a thesis in the area of trust in autonomous vehicles.

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