Do a drive thru at 7:00 PM Monday - Thurs. Then do one Sat night at 8:00 PM and 11:00 pm, sit in the car, roll down the windows and watch and listen.
If a lady in a short skirt with an Adam's Apple walks up and asks for the time, hit the gas!!!
Having some prepared question ready may be helpful.
If you aren't local, see if a friend or family member can do it for you. Hire a local agent and ask about different communities or have them preview homes. You can also do Street View on Google Maps and "drive" down the streets.
If you want to know more about the community/area, look up the school district on http://www.greatschools.org and Yelp.com the area to see how the local restaurants are rated, etc.
Whatever is important to you, do a little research and see if it's a good fit - great golf, boating, schools, dining, tennis, work opportunities, etc...
http://www.city-data.com also has forums where you can ask questions and talk to locals. (Ex: Miami = http://www.city-data.com/forum/miami/)
Not only do realtors help customers to buy and sell homes in Miami, they also provide reams of information about neighborhoods to prospective buyers. We're out and about every day, so we have the opportunity to observe what's going on around us in the neighborhoods we serve.
If you've already been in touch with a Miami real estate agent, ask him or her for help with neighborhood information.
Marc Jablon, The Jablon Team
Coldwell Banker 305 6390445 firstname.lastname@example.org
I feel that there are blogs on just about any neighborhood in any given city.
My broker is working on a website that will describe all the of the smaller enclaves in and around Miami and Miam Beach, you can visit the link below.
Word of mouth is the best, possibly by visitng the local Starbucks, mall, etc to speak to the locals.
I hope that helps, and feel free to contact me for further assistance.
South Florida Brokers