I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE traveling! Getting to explore new places, eat new foods, meet new people, etc. etc. I grew up on the road (like, I’ve been to 48 states, grew up on the road) but still going to new places (or returning) fills me such a sense of awe.
My husband’s company Christmas party was a couple weeks ago (in January, lol) in New York City. When I learned they were going to pay for spouses to come as well, I flipped out and began immediately scouring the internet for all things New York City! We lived in Connecticut for a few months when I was growing up and we drove over the George Washington Bridge a thousand times with my dad but we never had the opportunity to go into the city. When I typed in Pinterest, things to do in NYC, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of pins proclaiming ‘New York Itinerary, What to Do and See in 4 Days in NYC,’ ‘How to Spend Three Days in NYC,’ ‘29 Free Things to do in NYC,’ ‘12 Things You Have to Eat when in NYC,’ to simply name a few that stuck out to me. From these I was able to come up with a list of attractions, things to do, and where I might want to eat. I got to thinking and was like, I can make one of these lists for my favorite things to do while I’m in NYC! However, the more I looked through lists the more I realized, none of them touched on the things I like to do when I go to a new city. I thought, instead of a list of things to do in NYC (since there are literally thousands of them), how about a different kind of list, things to do when visiting a new city? So here you go, my top 5 things I like to do when visiting a new city!
5. Eat Like a Local
I wish this didn’t have to be said but my husband is the type of person who won’t try anywhere new and will just stick with fast food/chain restaurants. For me, breakfast, lunch, and dinner is always all about local places. For one, I’m a huge fan of supporting small businesses and when you visit another city you literally can’t get that same food back home. Don’t be afraid to try new cuisines (I tried Indian food in NYC and I am now a huge fan). Pull out my friend Google and type in food near me, check out the ratings and browse the menus. Don’t get stuck in the fast food/chain restaurant rut. One of my dad’s favorite things to do is look up to see if the city was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, he wishes he could be Guy Fieri. Ask the people at the front desk of your hotel, the bartender, or your host (if you like to AirBnB it). Just don’t ever eat at a chain restaurant, you’re literally robbing your taste buds of something fantastic and I just can’t let you do that.
4. Look for the less common things to do
Obviously have your list of must sees but also look for the hidden things to do. Check out Facebook events, look for the local news website (watch the news when you get there!), and even get on snapchat and see what’s going on around you. There is always something off the beaten path that is a must see and what makes the city you are visiting unique.
3. Visit downtown and go shopping
Find downtown and go exploring, don’t be afraid to get lost or to wander around aimlessly (more on this later). Find the place with the most local shops and take time to poke around, it makes for some great gifts to bring back or something unique for your home (instead of the typical shot glass or fridge magnet).
2. Make friends with the bartender
Staying in a hotel? Hang out at the bar, even if you don’t drink you can order a soda and maybe some snacks. Strike up a conversation with the bartender, find out what they like to do in their free times, where their favorite spots are to eat, and where to get the best deals.
Not staying at a hotel? Find a spot near you, a bakery, coffee shop, bar, anywhere local and strike up conversation with one of the workers.
Just a spot of advice, I wouldn’t immediately get into asking them questions or else they may not give you the best suggestions, spent a little extra time just making small conversation and getting to know them before jumping into the touristy questions. Bartenders are people too, so don’t forget to tip them for their amazing service and advice.
1. Don’t be afraid to get lost!
This is literally my favorite thing in the world to do anywhere I go. Take a day and just drive around (or walk), take the first turn that seems interesting to you. If you see something that looks cool down one street, take a walk down that street. When I was in NYC, I literally walked 5 miles aimlessly around the city because I loved seeing everything. I can’t stress this one enough because it is such a carefree feeling to walk or drive around ‘getting lost,’ not having an agenda and not feeling like you have to get xyz done since you’re only visiting for a short amount of time. I promise, try this one time (even if it is just for a couple hours) and let me know how it goes. Once you are fully lost and ready to head back, my friend Google is right there to help you get home.
That’s it, my best 5 travel tips for visiting a new city (or revisiting one)! What else would you add? What are some of your favorite things to do? Did you try any of the things off my list? What was your experience like?? I want to hear from you!