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Getting Your Neighborhood’s Walk Score

walkscoreWhen you’re thinking about visiting a place, one of the key questions is often, “What’s within walking distance?” Every hotel or hostel you check out is going to say it’s within “easy walking distance” of something, but you never quite know if they’re trying to sell you a bill of goods. Well, one website can help you figure out if what they’re telling you is the truth.

Walk Score is actually designed with real estate in mind – the idea is that you’re thinking of moving to a new neighborhood, and you plug in potential addresses to see what’s nearby. Some of it, therefore, isn’t really relevant to those who are just playing tourist – but much of it is very useful. Just to test it out, I put the address of BootsnAll headquarters into it, and found this map.

Some of it’s stuff I already knew – the Wild Oats two blocks away, the Acadia restaurant across the street, and Irving Park a couple of blocks in the other direction – but I didn’t know, for instance, that there’s a used bookstore nearby or an Ethiopian market not far from that.

There are drawbacks to this website, primarily (in the eyes of travelers) that it’s limited to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. But the folks behind Walk Score would like to expand into other countries, and it seems to me that if they thought about their site in terms of travel in addition to real estate, they’d have a much wider audience. For now, if you’re interested in traveling or moving to Portland, it’s a fun tool.