HOW TO: Find Your Way Around Any New City 2022


Shana Glickfield is Director of Strategic Communications at Amplify Public Affairs and guides both locals and tourists around Washington, DC, through her blog, DCConcierge.com.

Adding an extra day to that conference in Austin? Visiting New York City for the weekend again? Checking out Rome for the first time ever? Whether you want to hit the local hotspots or knock those tourist must-sees off your bucket list, these online and mobile tools are your surefire secret weapons.

Planning Ahead

When it comes to finding the best accommodations, TripAdvisor members share their candid reviews and opinions, which are much more reliable than any hotel website (think Yelp for hotels). However, it helps to have a clear idea of what you're looking for because the information is so plentiful that it's easy to lose hours on the detailed reviews.

A week or two before you travel, subscribe to the Daily Candy for the city you are going to, if it's available (most major cities). This will give you tips on the latest and greatest restaurants, bars, and shops to hit and is particularly valuable if you're looking for something new and trendy. Also, try the search function on the homepage if the city you are going to doesn't have a regular edition, because it has likely been featured in one of their Travel postings.

For a more comprehensive guide, check out Technorati founder David Sifry's latest venture, Offbeat Guides. These customizable guidebooks ensure the up-to-date information and let you cut out the clutter of information you don't want. You can download your personalized finished product in electronic format or they will ship you a printed version, if you prefer.

When You Arrive

To take in a city like a tourist without actually looking like a tourist, count on podcasts or downloadable “audio walking tours” to be your guide. (Although that camera and map will probably still give you away.) In Washington, DC, we have MobileTours, which lets you go at your own pace and then dial from your mobile phone for a description of the landmark in front of you. Some tours offer just voice narration, but others include maps and pictures too, so it's worth it to do a little extra searching.

For finding the best food in the city, even while you are out and about, use mobile apps like Zagat or UrbanSpoon to find what suits you in flavor, price, and location. (As a rule, anything with that city name in it is a tourist trap.) Also, Twitter can come in handy here too. I recently queried the Twitterverse to DM me the best seafood restaurant in Baltimore. I was happily eating the most delicious crab soup in minutes.

Twitter is also a good way to find company if you are traveling solo. AwayFind founder Jared Goralnick recently wrote about how he embraced Twitter and other social networks to connect with others in such diverse places as Nashville, Barcelona, and Reykjavik!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Veni