Exploring New Places Like a Local: 7 Tips to Experience New Cities

Do you often leave vacation to a new city feeling a bit short-changed? Do you feel like the city didn’t live up to your expectations and that you spent a lot of time waiting in lines to see sites that were underwhelming in person?

If you’re looking to shake up your next vacation, then you need to learn how to experience a new city like a local one. While it can sometimes be fun to visit popular tourist attractions, only visiting the touristy places won’t allow you to truly experience the essence of a place.

Check out this guide on exploring new places to learn how to experience a city like a local.

1. Let Yourself Get Lost

While ditching the GPS may sound counterintuitive, hear us out on this one. Mapping out each place you want to visit and following step-by-step directions on your phone won’t allow you to discover any of the city’s hidden gems.

Plus, if you’re staring at your phone the whole time to check directions, you won’t be able to pay attention to the wonder of the city around you. During the first day or two of visiting a new city, we suggest putting the GPS away and letting yourself get lost.

Not only will doing so allow you to discover new treasures, but it’ll also help you orient yourself in your new city. If you get completely lost, you can always pull out your phone to find your way back to your hotel.

2. Get a Local to Show You Around

Exploring a city with a local is perhaps the best way to truly experience it. If you know someone local where you’re headed, see if they can meet up with you to show you their favorite spots.

And if you don’t know a local, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of ways you can meet locals to show you around during your trip. For example, you can use the Airbnb or Couchsurfing apps. Both of these apps can connect you with local tour guides who can show you the city from their point of view.

3. Take Public Transportation

While you can get around a lot faster with Uber and taxis, taking public transportation will allow you to learn more about the new city you’re exploring.

For one, locals take public transport, so it allows you to see the city through a local’s eyes. Plus, public transport can help you notice things you wouldn’t if you were taking a taxi.

When you’re on the bus or subway, pay attention to your surroundings. If you notice any stops that seem cool, get off and explore.

4. Look for Local Events to Attend

When traveling to a new city, many people look for the biggest events to attend and just go to those. However, going to the big events won’t allow you to truly see the city like a local.

For example, if you’re going to New York, don’t just go to the Broadway plays or the big shows going on in Times Square. Instead, check out matinee performances off-Broadway or look into local comedy shows.

If the city you’re visiting is really into sports, check to see if any local competitions are going on when you’re visiting. We also suggest looking into local art shows, festivals, and concerts.

5. Be Flexible With Your Plans

While it can be tempting to create an itinerary so you can pack as much into your trip as possible, you’ll likely have a lot more fun and experience a lot more if you go with the flow.

If you have every second of your day planned out, then there’s no time to get lost in a cool neighborhood, have a 3-hour lunch at a local restaurant, or have an adventure with a local you met at the park. Leaving some room in your itinerary allows for more spontaneity, and it gives you a chance to breathe and appreciate your surroundings.

6. Read Niche Travel Blogs

When most people plan trips to new cities, they turn to big travel publications like Lonely Planet, TripAdvisor, and Conde Nast.

While these publications can help learn the basics about a city, we also suggest looking into more niche travel blogs. Often, niche travel blogs are created by locals or people who have lived in the city for a long time. This means they’ll have insider knowledge on the best places off the beaten path to eat, explore, and have fun.

7. Seek Out the Best View in Town

There’s no better way to view a city than from above. While it can be fun to climb to the tallest building for a good view, we suggest going even higher.

Many cities offer hot air balloon rides, helicopter tours, and plane tours that allow you to see the city like never before. These tours give you a perspective of the city that you can’t get from the ground.

For example, if you live in Florida, you can check out to get views of the land and the ocean.

Exploring New Places: Are You Ready to Explore?

Now that you’ve read this guide on exploring new places, it’s time for you to get out there and explore. With these tips, you can see the city you’re traveling to in a whole new light.

If you’re looking for more travel tips and tricks, be sure to peruse our blog.

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