(credit: Michelle Mears-Gerst)

A growing number of homebuyers and renters are seeking neighborhoods where they can get movin’ and groovin’. Realtors prefer the term walkable or pedestrian friendly, where people are within walking distance to stores and restaurants, with access to trails, sidewalks or designated bike paths. The following is a list of Orange County’s top walkable neighborhoods. You can also find how your neighborhood rates in walkability by checking out the website Walkscore, an organization dedicated to promoting walkable communities. Studies show residents in these communities lead a less-stressed and more harmonious, healthy lifestyle by spending less time in their cars and more time in their sneakers.

(credit: Ana Venegas/ochistorical.blogspot.com)

Anaheim – The Colony

The Colony is a community centrally located in Anaheim settled by German winemakers in 1857. This quaint neighborhood dotted with homes built in Victorian, Spanish, Dutch colonial and Tudor revival was the city’s first and largest Historic District. The district has over one thousand homes contributing to the historical designation. Residents in The Colony are within walking distance to nearby shopping, dining, art galleries, and parks. They also are close to three major freeways and nearby work centers as well Angels’ Stadium, the Honda Center and Disneyland! The Colony scored 69 out of 100, in walkability according to Walkscore.

Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa was listed as one of Orange County’s most walkable neighborhood by Walkscore for close proximity to stores, shopping malls like South Coast Plaza and museums like The Segerstrom Center For the Arts. Great restaurants are also available within walking distance of homes such as the Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop. Neighbors in the community around 17th street and Westminster can walk with their family and pets to pick up fresh meals and dine on a porch outside or at a farm table inside.

(credit: Michelle Mears-Gerst)

Ladera Ranch

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Orange County is a very walkable and pedestrian friendly neighborhood called Ladera Ranch. The residents of Ladera Ranch can walk to a variety of shopping districts as well as pocket parks and multiple pools, schools and churches. Outdoor enthusiasts love the multiple trails ranging from tree- lined dirt paths to paved walkways. The housing also changes from condominiums to single-family homes lined with white picket fences and sweet smelling flowers.

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Long Beach

Long Beach has an eclectic mix of neighborhoods and home choices from Craftsman bungalows, ’20s Spanish revival, mid-century modern, contemporary high-rise condominiums, traditional and 1940s ranch style tract homes. The city also offers waterfront and golf course facing homes making it a great destination to live in. The community on Naples Island is pedestrian-friendly as well, offering walkways along the canals perfect for an afternoon stroll. As if that was not enough, residents can take a gondola ride along the canal on a sunny day and enjoy the views.

(credit: travel.nytimes.com)

San Clemente

The neighborhoods on the west side of San Clemente received a rating of 83 out of 100 in walkability according to Walkscore. This beachside community has a wonderful downtown area where homes of every size and shape are in close proximity to shops, restaurants and schools and public transit is close by to help everyone who needs to get around. The coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor seating area draw in the local community to mix and mingle with their neighbors.

(credit: lagunabeat.com)

Laguna Beach

This beautiful coastal community must be doing something right since it was just awarded sixth place of America’s Happiest Seaside Towns in Coastal Living Magazine. This artsy beach town has a very walkable village dotted with restaurants, boutique clothing, furniture stores, spas, coffee shops, and art galleries all a stones throw from neighborhoods with small cottage bungalows to modern estates. The culture of the community embraces diversity where the surfing lifestyle blends well with the high- end resorts and development.

Michelle Mears-Gerst is a writer in Orange County. You can find her at @sunnynsocal or on Facebook.