The sidewalks of Miami Beach, FL are not just filled with life, but also good instructions on how to create lively, attractive public space. This view along Ocean Drive reveals the *most correct* way to arrange sidewalk seating. In this case, pedestrians have a continuous walkway next to the buildings, so they can see into stores and restaurants, while the tables are set next to the curb. This allows people to keep walking in a straight line without meandering, and enables window shopping – a key for success of storefront businesses.
Unfortunately, this arrangement is not allowed in many state regulations. Quite a few states (perhaps the majority), require that outdoor seating be directly adjacent to the building, especially if alcohol is served. There are some techniques to work-around this, but they require more effort and money. Hopefully with time, more states will change their restrictions to allow this arrangement, since it has a much more positive affect on successful, walkable places.