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What makes a great walkable town? We have made a list of what elements you should look for in a walkable community. What’s your town’s “walk score”? Does it check all the boxes for a great walkable community?

overhead view of Founder's Square and Woodlea Hall

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Varied Terrain and Views

sunset by a small dock

The views on your stroll should be as diverse for your eyes as the terrain is for your feet! From beaches, lakes, and wetlands to forests and parks and architecturally stunning buildings and street art, how many different environments do you encounter on your walks?

You may start your walk on a sidewalk, meander onto a pathway, find yourself on a trail through the woods and end up on the cobblestone streets in town!

In Southwest Florida, you can see a variety of ecosystems along your walk. You may find yourself in pinelands, wet and mesic pine flatwoods, dry prairie ecosystems, cypress domes, and cypress swamps on your walk.

Southwest Florida offers unlimited options for on-foot exploration! Walkable communities include a variety of options, views, and terrain.

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Made with your Need in Mind

A walkable community keeps in mind what you need along the way. Tree-lined streets are more than just aesthetically pleasing! Sidewalk micro-climates, offered by trees and rest areas, offer relief from the sun so you can spend even the hottest days outside.

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Inspiration to Stay Active

The more miles of trails, the more opportunities.

Health and wellness-focused amenities surrounding your community’s trails, pathways, and sidewalks can be a huge motivator in staying active.

Shared paths with runners, walkers, and bikers allow trail users to switch between a variety of activities, depending on their mood!

Other opportunities may arise on your walk as well. As you walk by the lake, you may be tempted to try out kayaking! As you traverse past the creek, your neighbor might beckon for you to join him fishing. Maybe on a walk to town, you’ll see the gym and be inspired to sign-up for a gym membership!

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Options for All Fitness Levels

Walking, hiking, running and biking are all unique opportunities offered to the path, sidewalk, and trail users. One of the biggest perks of walkable towns is that their activities usually don’t discriminate based on fitness level. Those who live in the hills of San Francisco may beg to differ, though, and that’s why it’s important to find a town with a variety of terrain that suits your current lifestyle and fitness goals.

For those with only a few minutes to spare, find a mile-long loop walk in your community. For the more advanced (or ambitious!) look for longer walks through various landscapes and options to add additional miles.

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Town Charm

a woman in black running gear runs on a trail alongside the red babcock ranch welcome bridge

Entertainment

A great walkable community offers fun as well as relaxation. Your neighborhood trails should provide inspired and unique experiences with the great outdoors, amenities, and people, emphasizing the social as well as the physical!

Dog owners can find a sanctuary with their four-legged friends (and their owners) at the dog park. Playgrounds offer safe places for your children and time to connect with like-minded neighborhood parents. If fishing is your thing, find new friends at the dock or at holed up near the winding creeks just off the trails.

One-time events bring people together on the trails, as well. Your walkable town may transition to a running community for the day or sidewalks may be temporarily converted into festival booth space!

Sense of Community

It’s not always about the destination. Walking can also be about who you see along the way! Living spaces & porches that face the street can be a great way to get to know your neighbors. Whether you are enjoying a coffee on the porch or on a daily walk, a quick wave and hello from a neighbor can do wonders to make you feel at home in your community.

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Proximity to Shops and Restaurants

Wherever you are going, there should be a trail or walkway to get you there. Your community’s pedestrian roads should be so extensive, they lead just about everywhere but Rome (and they’d probably lead there too if it wasn’t so far away!). Once you leave your front door, shopping, restaurants, the gym, coffee shops, farmer’s markets, and much more should all be accessible.

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Access to Green Space

lake and garden view

Trails, pathways, and sidewalks should be more than accessible. They should be beautiful. Along your walks, how many of the following do you see?

  • A variety of trees, grass, and shrubs
  • Waterfront
  • A town garden
  • A dog park
  • A fishing dock
  • An observation deck
  • A park
  • A playground
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Opportunities to See Wildlife

babcock ranch view of lighthouse over lake

What better way to appreciate a walk than to see the animals around you enjoy it too! Southwest Florida is a birders paradise with herons, pelicans, osprey, falcons, and more all gracing our skies and waters.

Wildlife corridors that pass near the trails you walk connect wildlife from parks and natural land throughout Southwest Florida. If you have a sharp eye and stay quiet you may see deer, raccoons, white-tailed deer, southern black racers, and tortoises! Head to the waters to see what aquatic species your area has to offer. You can use SWFL Waterway’s “Fish Identifier” to become an expert in the area’s fish population.

If you want to learn more about wildlife on your walks, consider joining a walking tour. Guides will help you get up close and personal with the area’s wildlife. Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars!

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Respect for History and Sustainability

solar panels at Babcock ranch

What the trail you are walking on today shouldn’t look all that different than it did 100 years ago or how it will look 100 years from now.

The trail you are walking on may have been used by ranchers to move their cattle from one pasture to another. It may also have been constructed as a fire break. Do you know the history that lies beneath your feet?

For example, the greenway trails at Babcock Ranch may seem new but were created 40 to 50 years ago when Curry Canal was dredged. The dredge material on the west side of the canal is what now forms the elevated trail along the creek.

Learning the history of the area you explore on foot is an important element in understanding its sustainability. Today’s trails that use existing pathways to minimize the amount of disturbance to the natural environment are an ideal way to promote a culture of sustainability.

aerial view of Babcock Ranch

Living in Babcock Ranch

With these factors in mind, we think Southwest Florida ranks much higher than California’s Bay Area for walkability! But we’ll let you be the judge— come see for yourself! If you are interested in joining one of the most walkable communities in the United States, we’d love to have you. Learn more about Babcock Ranch’s commitment to walkability at (941) 200-1494.