I take a walk every day with my dogs. We walk in good weather and bad, they don't seem to mind. I walk in my neighborhood and then in the one that's adjacent to mine. I've met so many nice people on my walks and of course I also meet nice dogs. If you really want to know what kind of an area you live in, go out and walk around, talk to people you meet.
It's also nice to look at the houses you pass, you get ideas for things you'd like to do to your own house. I've also met people who can help me in different ways. I met a painter and a carpenter along the way. Change your route every so often so you can maximize your experience. It's actually really good for you, you're getting some exercise and you get familiar with the neighborhood that you live in.
I hope that everyone survived Sandy up here in the Capital Region. I think that we were lucky and were really not affected too badly.