An aerial view of New York City through a smartphone screen. Photo: Alexey Rotonov / Alamy)
Scores of people with heads buried in smartphones walking zombie-like through city streets while furiously swiping at their phones aren’t part of some tech experiment gone wrong. They’re simply enamored with the latest gaming craze, Pokémon Go.
With millions of people playing the game and more than 150 Pokémon critters to catch throughout the United States, competition is fierce. Discover the top cities for catching rare Pokémon and doing battle at “gyms.” You’ll achieve Pokémaster status in no time.
New York City
There’s a plethora of Pokémon scattered throughout New York City. The city’s vast size and a multitude of buildings and landmarks means you’ll find all manner of rare Pokémon and gyms dotting the five boroughs. You’ll have ample choice of hunting grounds in the Big Apple. Hundreds of Pokéspots have popped up throughout the city.
You’re likely to find a gaggle of players at the Bryant Park in Manhattan’s midtown, the park’s fountain is a well-known gym. From here, you’re a short walk away from the Empire State Building, home to Pokémon like Meowth and a gym — though be prepared to pay a $32 to visit the skyscraper’s peak. If you can stand the crush of tourists, hit Times Square, where you’ll find a major gym and critters like Ponyta, a Geodude, and a Jigglypuff.
Combine sightseeing in the nation’s capital with upping your player level as you walk to the city’s sights, all the while hatching eggs and capturing Pokémon. First things first: head immediately to the National Mall. Here you’ll find what many players call “Pokémon Heaven,” filled with more than 150 Pokémon and multiple gyms. With the Lincoln Memorial looming above you, keep a keen eye out for Magikarp, Nidoran, Bulbasaur, Pikachu, and Cubone lurking in the area.
Of course, you’ll discover gyms throughout DC. The White House lays claim to an active gym, and players report finding Eevee, Weedle, Zubat, and Pidgey in the area. Slowpoke has repeatedly been seen on Capitol Hill (we’ll refrain from inserting a joke), and along the Georgetown waterfront, players have encountered Paras and water-type Pokémon, like Psyduck and Krabby.
Normally, the thrill of L.A. lies in spotting a Hollywood star. In today’s Pokémon-crazed world, folks are more likely to scout the city for Charmander, not Charlie Sheen. The City of Angels has gained notoriety for being chock full of rare Pokémon as well as gyms.
Get a taste of salt air and California’s beach vibe at the Santa Monica Pier, where you’ll find more than a dozen Pokéstops and are likely spot Squirtle, Electabuzz and water-type Pokémon like Seel and Shellder. It’s only appropriate that you’ll find critters aplenty at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Pokémon have been seen frolicking with flamingos, and darting around more than 30 Pokéstops and at least three gyms. Even Pokémon want to be stars — or get cultured. Take a stroll down the star-studded Hollywood Walk of Fame or visit the J. Paul Getty Museum for more Pokémon sightings.
Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to Pokémon. Houston is ranked as one of the top five cities in the US for spotting rare Pokémon and houses more than its fair share of gyms and Pokéstops. Of course, Houston is Space City, and naturally, you’ll find Pokémon swirling around Space Center Houston, the visitor center at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Psychic and fire Pokémon call the Space Center’s 18 Pokéstops and two gyms home, including Abra and Kadabra.
Next, hit two of Houston’s most beloved landmarks, Rothko Chapel and Menil Collection. After admiring the architecture and art, get set to capture Pokémon like Squirtles, Wartortles, and Golems at the area’s 10 Pokéstops and two gyms. Downtown Houston is a hotbed of activity. Walk the city streets and seek out more than 40 Pokéstops and at least seven gyms housed in and around Houston landmarks. You might spy rare breeds like Raichu and Magmar, as well as those naughty Zoobats.
Seattle has a history of being ahead of the tech curve, so it’s little surprise the town is a hotbed of rare Pokémon. If you’re a beginner, head to Cal Anderson Park, where the Pokémon are so plentiful in and around the three overlapping Pokéstops here that you the Pokémon all but flock to you. The Seattle waterfront is also teeming with Pokémon, including a number of rare ones like goldeens, tentacools, and magikarp.
Quickly becoming one of the games quirkiest stops, Bruce and Brandon Lee’s gravesites have also been marked as Pokéstops with a gym. Of course, do pay your respects to the martial arts legends before starting the hunt.