Going Somewhere New? Here’s A City Quick-Study Guide

Learning the ropes of a new city can be exhausting, especially when you’re doing it over and over and over again. Here’s how we prepare before arriving in a new place:

  • Go in to the new place knowing that we can’t see, know, or do everything – and be okay with that. Being a full-time tourist is not an option for a full-time family travel…ours at least.
  • If you need a step-by-step guide on how to choose a neighborhood and a place to stay, read this post.
  • Read the Wikitravel.org article on whatever city you’re staying in. They highlight neighborhoods/districts, provide a brief history on the city, how to get there, how to get around once you’re there, popular things to do and see, where to shop, eat and drink, etc.
  • Live like a local – stay in a neighborhood via Airbnb instead of a hotel. Eat local, go to farmers’ markets, check out a local event calendar, go listen to live music, ask your Airbnb host what their favorite spots are, attend a sporting event.
  • YouTube – I love watching videos with our son on new cities we’re headed to. It gives him some excellent visuals, things to look forward to, and gets him involved in the activity planning process. Search for “visit” + city name and you’ll be set.
  • Study a map – there’s nothing more frustrating to me than arriving in a new place and immediately feeling lost. Before you go, find where you’re staying on the map, locate things like the grocery store, shopping, get a general sense of the main highways, where downtown is in relation to your rental, and pinpoint some places of interest based on your research. You can also search for “attractions map” + city name on google for a simple layout of the tourist highlights.
  • Public Transportation – Know what’s offered if you’re not driving yourself around. There is always a section in Wikitravel articles about this. The Google also knows.
  • Yelp – I like to identify a few restaurants that are suitable for us before we go, especially if we’re arriving hangry at dinner time after a long travel day. Yelp is also great when looking up “things to do” in a particular place.
  • Google “things to do” + city name. I almost always end up on Tripadvisors’ Things To Do lists and often turn up a few other helpful ones within a few minutes of searching.
  • Google “reddit” + city name for a forum with some potentially useful information as well.
  • If you’re in to hiking and/or mountain biking or cycling, also check out alltrails.com, mtbproject.com, and the Strava Global Heatmap.

Now, go somewhere!