You can find organized walking tours with knowledgeable guides that are well worth the money but exploring on your own is a viable option. Especially if you have a good guide book.
I ran across the "Look Up, America!" series a few years ago when I was looking for information on the history of our city. Lo and behold I found a walking tour of Jacksonville!
Go to their website Walkthetown.com and you'll see their bi-line "Home of the 99 - cent Walking Tour from Look Up, America!" And that's right you can download a walking tour for just 99 cents. What a deal.
Each book includes the history of the town and a map plus information on architectural and cultural sights. Directions are clearly written out and a picture of each building is included!
I used to work in downtown Jacksonville so it was interesting learning the history of the many buildings I walked by everyday. I especially loved reading about the St. James building that faces Hemming Plaza. My grandmother started to work in this building around 1918 when she was just 15 years old. It was the home of Cohen Brothers Department store at that time. The building was designed by Jacksonville architect H.J. Klutho and he included a 75-foot octagonal glass dome. The Cohens operated the store until 1958. In 1993 the City of Jacksonville purchased the building and restored it to its original beauty. The city used the St. James building as City Hall until the new City Hall was built in 2015.
We've used "Look Up, America" walking tours for San Francisco, Lower Manhattan, New York's Financial District, Charleston, Savannah, Tallahassee, and Atlanta. There are over 400 towns in this series so I don't think we'll run out any time soon.
Even if you don't actually take the walk it's worth the purchase price just to read the history of the towns you visit. And with the free Kindle app on my phone it's super easy to have the information right at my finger tips.
Next time you're in a new town or even your hometown see if there's a walking tour you can take. You might be surprised what you'll learn.
(I paid my full 99 cents for each of the books we've used in this series. I wasn't compensated for this review.)