When you arrive in an unfamiliar area, buy a local map, then physically get out and about:
- Join commercial sightseeing excursions. Make note of the areas you especially like.
- Take free or low-cost public transportation. In New Orleans, for example, an inexpensive street car ride along St. Charles Avenue will alert you to the fact that its side streets (which are great for kick scooting) offer fabulous sights. Likewise, the free Canal Street Ferry ride that crosses the Mississippi River to Algiers puts you in a community of historically interesting, flowered, and beaded shot-gun houses.
- Hire a knowledgeable cab or limo driver who can show you the town. Make sure that you follow the route on a paper map so you can trace your interests.
Travel literature provides a wealth of ideas, but figuring out where interesting areas are in relationship with other interesting areas is not usually clear. Don’t leave things to chance! Buy several local maps (or photocopy an existing map), and mark those maps up based on your interests.
Example: In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (giant-sized mosaics on old buildings) and the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (giant-sized murals also on old buildings) both supply detailed maps, but these maps do not overlap locations, even though mosaics and murals can be seen in the same neighborhoods. .
Survey local bike shops because they frequently sell or give away bike tour maps. While a person who kick scoots wouldn’t join a formal bike tour, there may be locations along bike tours that are relevant. Best, bike shops are often staffed by area enthusiasts who can give you good advice.
Check with real estate agents. Many stunning neighborhoods are never mentioned in tourist brochures, but agents know where they are. If you’ve conducted business before with a national realty company, make inquiries through your local agent who can put you in touch with someone from that chain in your target city. Otherwise, simply cold call to an area realtor, but be honest. Tell the office that you are looking for neighborhood information although your are not currently in the market to buy. Ask about neighborhoods with historical or architectural relevance, the presence of trees, parks, and nearness of coffee shops. Exclusive areas, such as off St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans (see photo below), that include mansions and luxury housing almost always make good places to ride a kick scooter.
Example: Few people outside of Milwaukee know about its stunning Upper East Side or old St. Francis (which both border Lake Michigan) or old Wauwatosa (among several places), but real estate agents can tell you where they are and what you can expect to see. If you really want insiders’ knowledge, offer to pay the agent a reasonable fee to map it out, or perhaps, drive you on a mini-guided kick scooter tour.
Research the web by using a phrase similar to “[city name] guide to neighborhoods,” as well as contact the community library for additional information.