Cheryl and I love to travel. We’ve always enjoyed great downtowns, so usually when we visit a new city that’s the first place we head. We love it so much we even moved downtown when we became empty-nesters. When we moved to Lexington, KY recently, we looked for a place as close to downtown as we could find. We found a “downtown feel” less than a mile to downtown.
Recently we were on vacation and visited numerous different downtown cities in the upper Midwest. As Cheryl and I compared cities, we made a list of our favorite attributes of a downtown area.
Here are 10 elements of a great downtown:
Ample parking – We prefer free, but it needs to be plentiful and for at least 2 hours. We’ll stop, eat, and spend if we can find it.
Bicycle racks – Bicycle racks are almost a symbol to us of what to expect in a downtown. If people can ride their bike, park it and shop, you’ll attract a young, active crowd. They love downtowns and keep it vibrant.
Outdoor seating – People love to people watch. (Okay, maybe I’m alone, but I don’t thinks so.) Downtowns are perfect places to sit for a while and relax. It is one thing that separates downtowns from other more commercial retail developments.
Restaurants – A great downtown has several choices of locally owned, unique restaurants.
Gift shops – Okay, this is not for me, but I’m not carrying the checkbook. Places to shop and find unique items will keep her shopping and me nicely parked on a bench.
Benches – How is she going to shop ver long if I don’t have a place to sit? Benches downtowns…benches!
Churches – We love the steeples and the architecture of downtown churches. It also shows the community still believes in their downtown. The more churches, the more people are coming to downtown on a frequent basis.
Flowers and trees – The best downtowns have found ways to build in nature spaces.
Downtown living – If it is a great downtown, people will want to live there.
Grocery market – To sustain downtown living, a place to buy basic essentials needs to be in walking distance. It doesn’t have to be where people buy everything they consume, but it should include the staples.
Do you love downtowns? Where is your favorite? What elements do you look for in a downtown?