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What is an Esplanade?

Jessica Ellis
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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An esplanade is a walkway arranged to run alongside a body of water, such as a lake, river, or seashore. The walkway can be made out of many different materials, and may stretch for miles. There are many examples of esplanades throughout the world, many of which provide wonderful vantage points and exercise opportunities in scenic and beautiful settings.

Esplanades can serve several practical purposes that increase the comfort of visitors and also provide some security from unpredictable bodies of water. The walkway is often paved with stone or concrete, or made of grass, and can be used as an alternative to walking on sandy river or seashore banks. In addition, esplanades can provide a safer place to watch the ocean when waves are unpredictable.

Frequently, an esplanade is a multi-use path that provides for many different types of visitors. Some feature divided sections for bikers, skateboarders, and runners, allowing a reserved section for those traveling at a more leisurely pace. Esplanades that offer divided sections often have painted indicators or signs that direct users to the correct path. Typically, cars and other large vehicles are not allowed on an esplanade.

There are many examples of esplanades throughout the world, particularly in areas with beach, lake, or riverfront districts. In the Los Angeles area, the esplanade in Santa Monica is a long, flat walking path that joins several area beaches together. The bike section of the path is part of one of the longest bike paths in the world, a 22 mile (35.4 km) road that stretches south from Pacific Palisades through Santa Monica to Torrance, California.

Australia’s coastal regions, well-known as havens for beaches and sunny weather, are also home to some of the best known esplanades in the world. The Cairns Esplanade in Queensland is a popular tourist destination that was originally built in the 1870s as one of the first major streets in the new town. The Gold Coast Oceanway, also in Queensland, is a 22.5 mile (36 km) multi-use path that includes numerous beaches and the famous Point Danger lighthouse along the way.

As esplanades often become major sightseeing destinations for tourists, they frequently include large shopping and dining districts to accommodate the needs of visitors. Many take advantage of the scenery and family atmosphere to include tourist attractions such as amusement parks. The association of retail and tourist activities with esplanades has led to many inland recreation systems also sharing the name, regardless of waterfront proximity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is an esplanade?

An esplanade is a long, open, level area, often along a river or by the sea, where people can walk for leisure and enjoy the open space. It's designed to provide pedestrians with beautiful views and a relaxing environment, often enhanced with amenities like benches, gardens, and art installations.

How does an esplanade differ from a promenade?

While both esplanades and promenades are pathways for walking and enjoying scenic views, an esplanade is typically found along a waterfront, whereas a promenade can be located in any pedestrian-friendly area, including public parks or city centers. Esplanades often have a more natural setting, while promenades might be more urban.

What are the common features of an esplanade?

Common features of an esplanade include walking paths, seating areas, green spaces, and sometimes cycling tracks. They are designed to be accessible and inviting, often incorporating landscaping that highlights the natural surroundings or cultural elements of the area, such as statues or fountains.

Can esplanades have commercial activities?

Yes, esplanades can host commercial activities. Many esplanades are lined with cafes, restaurants, and shops, providing economic benefits to the area. These commercial spaces are carefully integrated to maintain the leisurely and scenic nature of the esplanade, ensuring that the primary focus remains on public enjoyment and relaxation.

Are esplanades important for urban planning?

Esplanades play a crucial role in urban planning by providing green spaces that enhance the quality of life for city residents. They offer a respite from urban congestion, promote physical activity, and can improve mental health. Additionally, they often become key attractions that can boost tourism and local economies.

How do esplanades benefit the environment?

Esplanades benefit the environment by preserving waterfronts and providing green spaces that support biodiversity. They can also mitigate urban heat island effects by offering shade and cooler areas. Furthermore, esplanades often incorporate sustainable design elements, such as stormwater management systems, to reduce environmental impact.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for AllThingsNature. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

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Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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