What is a paseo?

Why is it so important to know what a paseo is? One key reason is that it’s tough creating a kind of place if people don’t even know what to call it… you know, those streets with no cars that only pedestrians are strolling along, lined with casual diners at outdoor cafes, bustling waiters, and an ever-changing diversity of sights, scents and sounds. That’s what a paseo is.

At dictionary.com, a paseo is defined as:
1. a slow, idle, or leisurely walk or stroll.
2. a public place or path designed for walking; promenade.
3. (esp. in Spanish-speaking countries) a usually tree-lined thoroughfare; avenue.

It’s derived from the Spanish word pasear, to walk.

Paseos can be wide and the premiere destination for city life, or they can be narrow and offer intimate dining. They can be level, or on a hill. They can be rectilinear, or organic (which gives a better sense of being in an outdoor room). Key to its economic success is a collection of unique restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating, entertainment venues and shops that establish the paseo as a destination. Also, one of the most important design elements that makes a paseo feel just right is the human scale of the buildings, since this is after all, a street designed for walking and being.

To get a better understanding of why paseos are on the rise, check out Is it time for the return of the pedestrian street?

For guidelines on how to establish a successful paseo, peruse How to do a pedestrian street right

Images: Sienna, Spain; Nanjing Lu, Shanghai, China; Dublin, Ireland; French Street, Istanbul, Turkey

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