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Seeing your neighborhood with new eyes: fresh inspiration for your daily walk 

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In the past weeks of shelter-in-place, I have walked the familiar streets near my home countless times. I quickly realized I needed to find new ways to approach my walks to keep them interesting, which is what led to my first blog with five ideas for solo walks in your neighborhood.

As I followed my own advice and took those solo walks, I started noticing things with new eyes. Catching sight of all the teddy bears in windows got me to look a little closer at the environment that I thought I knew so well. I began to “collect” details to notice as I walked. This turned into a search to “add” to my collection… and a new passion for my nearby streets.

Here are some suggestions of visual treasure hunts to inspire and invigorate you when walking. Ask a friend to start a “collection,” too, and swap pictures with each other. And of course you can share them with with @walksf and #IWalkSF.

  • Collect things with similar traits: cats in windows, views of Sutro Tower, a certain shape or color, buildings with names.
  • Spend a few minutes online doing research on architecture styles of your neighborhood, such art deco, mid century, Victorian, or find out what developer built the buildings you see. Check out this resource on the architectural periods and styles found in San Francisco.
  • Check out the San Francisco Public Library’s historic photo collection online and look at photos from your neighborhood, then go out and find out what’s there today.
  • Research a specific building material (such as terrazzo, formstone, wrought iron, stucco, stone, concrete) or a building element (stained glass window, doors, fence post, mail slot), and then search for and compare examples.
  • Look for public art in your area, like sculptures and official or unofficial murals. You can search the SF Arts Commission’s directory by district.

Want even more inspiration? Be sure you’ve checked out our recent blogs: Off-the-beaten-path walks for every district in San Francisco; Fun family walks to do in your neighborhood during shelter-in-placeFive ideas for solo walks in any neighborhood; and Ideas and inspiration for walking in San Francisco during shelter-in-place and Covid-19.

Nancy Botkin is a longtime Walk SF volunteer and walk organizer. Nancy and Cole Brennan put together this piece. Nancy and Cole are part of “Walk Lab”: a group of knowledgeable and creative volunteers who research routes for Walk SF. We’re so grateful for their brainstorming during shelter-in-place.

Image: Wally Gobertz via Flickr Creative Commons