Ditch the Guidebook: Different Ways to Explore a New City

Photo credit: Dis da fi we (was Hickatee) New York 2016 – Helicopter tour via photopin (license)

You don’t have to look or act like a tourist when visiting a city for the first time or going back again to explore. Ditch the guidebook and consider other ways to navigate the city and make the most of your time. Food tours, bike rides, and helicopter flights are just a few ways to see the city from a new perspective.

Do Online Research

Just as you’re reading this article, view others that discuss your targeted city and learn about the attractions beyond the obvious ones. For instance, those headed to Washington, DC head towards the White House but there is plenty to see beyond there and adjacent museums. Do a search for “things to do in (your city of interest)” and peruse a few articles.

Ask Your Uber Driver

Assuming you’re going to a place with Uber service, you can ask your driver, who likely doubles as a local, about where to go to explore. You can tell them about your preferences, which helps them give you better suggestions. Alternatively, ask a taxi driver, a person on the bus, or native walking the street.

Go See a Local Band

Tourists rarely come across local scenes or bands. Unless it’s a bigger musical act that attracts a larger crowd, a local band is likely to play places off the beaten path. You’ll need to get your hands on a local newspaper or head to a local music shop to get the scoop.

Go During a Festival

Head toward a destination during a special time of year, such as when the location is hosting a festival or large-scale event like the X-Games. You can be sure the event will break the monotony if you have previously visited or would otherwise do the normal tourist things.

Bring the Grandparents

For couples or single parents, bringing the grandparents makes for a unique visit. You’ll have the option of a babysitter, so you can explore the city on your own. Plus, you can see the sites with your little one. Lastly, go exploring throughout the city as a family. There is a lot of options but zero limitations.

Do a Food Tour

Foodies don’t need much temptation to eat but you can make the visit more delightful by seeking delectable pastimes. Most major cities offer decadent food tours. See about a tour in Memphis, New York City, or one close to your Marriott Dupont Circle hotel in Washington, DC.

Rent a Bicycle

Some rent a car when visiting a city but that requires gas and pollutes the environment. Alternatively, see if the city has a bike share or rental program. It’s an experience that keeps you in the moment and affords the time to stop and take in the sights.

Take a Heli Ride

Take a helicopter tour and view the city from a bird’s perspective. It’s a unique opportunity to see a grand spectacle and spot all the sights from one place. Take a ride in the morning or at sunset for an incredible view of the land and sky.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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