An illustration of a crowded promenade. An esplanade is a long, open, level area, usually next to a river or large body of water, where people may walk. This allows people to promenade along the sea front, usually for recreational purposes, whatever the state of the tide, without having to walk on the beach. Esplanades became popular in Victorian times when it was fashionable to visit seaside resorts. The original meaning of esplanade was a large, open, level area outside fortress or city walls. Esplanade and promenade are sometimes used interchangeably, but that is a mistake. A promenade can be anywhere, and it is exclusively for walking, while an esplanade is for walking but also can include large boulevards or avenues with cars.