By Foot, Bike or More: How to Explore Your Neighborhood

Apartment Therapy's Guide to the Perfect Summer

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Whether you've lived in your neighborhood for years or have recently made the move, we bet there's something you've never noticed before. Home is not just the few rooms you pay for and occupy — it spills out of your front door and stretches into the streets and businesses that surround your address. This weekend, with these tips, get up, out and explore your 'hood.

It might seem like overkill to have an entire post about exploring your neighborhood — after all, how hard could it be? The answer is it's not hard at all (and it's free, two of its best selling points as a weekend activity). But it is simple to easily forget about your neighborhood as a place of adventure, excitement, new sights and inspiration. Maximize an exploring trip through your neighborhood with these ideas:

Look at a map and see your neighborhood area
First spend some time actually visualizing the area of your city you consider to be your neighborhood. When you're not looking for a specific place, you might be surprised to realize what you can discover even before you walk out your front door. If there's anything that catches your eye or makes you curious, make a note to possibly explore it. But also map out a general route through your neighborhood that will take you around and through it, looping you back to your home.

Decide your method of moving
I prefer on foot. I think you can take your time more easily, spot more things. I think you're more likely to stop and get a closer look at something when you're on foot. It seems quieter and easier to discover with all your senses. I also think it's awesome exercise. But, taking a bike through your 'hood is quite lovely, as well, feeling the breeze in your hair as you roll down streets. Live in a huge neighborhood? Don't be afraid to dabble with the local public transportation. And don't be afraid to change it up — the neighborhood you might see on foot might be wildly different than the one you discover while skateboarding or rollerblading.

Have a loose idea of what you'd like to do
Does a perfect afternoon sound like snapping photos of weird things you find? Finding spots you can forage for free food? Popping into every business to see what their story is? Chances are by now you have an idea of the sorts of exploring activities that most excite you. Consider that when planning your route and planning what to bring on your neighborhood exploration.

Snap pics to share (and maybe inspire others)
Even if you're not a photographer, still snap a few photos as you explore, both as keepsakes of a good day and to share on social media to potentially inspire someone else to follow in your exploring footsteps.

Be open to meeting new people
Don't be afraid to say hello as you walk by people, talk to business owners about their businesses, ask folks you run into how their day is going. You never know the sort of charming interesting people that are right in your 'hood that you see day-in-and-day-out that you haven't spoken to yet!

Be safe — be aware of your surroundings
A "dangerous" looking neighborhood could be anything but, and a "safe" neighborhood could be full of possible dangers. Ignore whatever your neighborhood is "known" for, and instead be hyper aware of your surroundings while making smart, safe choices anywhere you explore. Don't listen to music if walking solo. Don't go down weird alleys distracted by trying to get a great shot. Just be careful! Consider going with a friend — even a furry one — for extra safety (and conversation) when you explore.

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Visit the Guide to the Perfect Summer main page for links to all of the posts published so far or sign up to have them delivered directly to you each weekend.

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Janel Laban)

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Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.