5 STEPS TO EXPLORE LIKE A LOCAL- 10.18.13
This post is brought to you by Sheraton. Click here to explore Sheraton Club.They are hosting us in Seattle this weekend, so it seems only appropriate that I share my process of diving into a new city between meetings as it applies to my first time in Seattle since i was too young to remember! First first step, figure out the neighborhoods… maps like this one from These Are Things for Seattle are a great start.
I love exploring! But having a mere few days in a new city (and minimal free time between business meetings) ~ is seldom enough to get to know it like a local! Unless… you find optimal ways to plan out what to go see! Diving into a brand new city you know next to nothing about is always both an adventure and completely overwhelming. Traditionally there are tourism boards and guide books to give you a feel for the touristy “usuals” that out-of-towners tend to cluster at, but i always get more curious about what locals are doing, what’s up and coming, and what is most unique! So, beyond asking friends and friends of friends and your hotel concierge for suggestions, here are some techniques we’ve been using! Usually i’m hunting for fun restaurants, shops, galleries, and events! Below take a peek at my usual process to navigate and discover the local side of things!
1. Local city blogs! Newspapers! Bloggers! Newsletters! Just to get caught up on the basics, look up the local city newspaper and free weekly online, peek at news headlines, explore the local section, and check out any blogs. This will give you some of the most up to date information on what’s happening. Find local city blogs (i.e. LAist, etc) that are constantly updated on what’s happening in the city. Newsletters are another great one. Browsing recent stories from newsletters like DailyCandy, Thrillist, Urban Daddy will give you a feel for the newest launches and events. Next, hunt for bloggers in topics of interest who live in that city. It’s always fun to check out a food or fashion blogger who is local and see what new openings and events have been going on, and get some real world views of life in the city.
2. Yelp! Google Maps! Yelp tends to work better when you know what you’re looking for. And general searches for restaurants or coffee shops may not be the best way to narrow things down when you don’t know the city well. You can get a feel for what the big “usual” spots are, but for up and coming neighborhoods or streets to check out i like playing with Google Maps.
For example, recently, a search for things like Pet Store, Electronics, Department Store - will quickly light up google maps, and based on the names/types of stores appearing, you can start to infer what types of neighborhoods they are in. For example, high end department stores and shops are probably a fancier area of town, American Apparels tend to pop up in more established trendier spots, and it’s surprisingly telling what an area might be like based on how pun-ny the names of the pet stores and dog boutiques are. Searches like these help a bit more than “restaurant” to narrow things down and quickly light up your map with dots of where main streets are.
As i narrow down various areas to go exploring, Yelp starts to become more useful once again for decision making on where to eat!
3. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. I’m always amazed how incredible social media can be for local knowledge. Though, depending on your closeness with your digital friends/followers, it can be tough to know if their tastes match yours! But always a great starting point, and as you share local spots you love, it’s always fun to hear people who either live in the city or know it well pop up and give you more suggestions to check out!
GET LOCAL… everything changes when you’re finally on the ground!
4. Find your locals. Now that you’re actually IN the city, no one knows the city better than the locals, but not just ANY locals. You need to find the people who like the things you are looking for! Often when i find an awesome gallery or store, I chat with a nice salesperson who seems to have similar taste about other similar stores they recommend, and often they also start to suggest some fun streets to go see, as well as cute bars, cafes, etc! If you’re staying in a hotel, don’t forget to chat with your concierge! They should be a wealth of knowledge, and perhaps even have some ins to help you get some much coveted reservations at the last minute…
5. Don’t overlook getting lost… carefully! Once you get a feel for the neighborhoods and layout of a city, you can probably safely wander and get lost as you venture between spots. I love getting a peek at how people live as you cruise through various residential neighborhoods.
So, there you have it, my quick way of catching up on what’s local while traveling! It’s worked well even when i have a mere few hours to run around and explore… because, even if you have to leave most of it to come back to later, it certainly gets easier to prioritize and know you picked the right things to explore for the short time you have. Happy exploring!