Researching a Place

I’m headed to San Francisco on Friday, and I’m just starting to research where to go/see/do/eat. And it’s tricky to find places to see when you’re in a new place. Sure, there’s a wealth of resources that will provide you with lists of where to go, but it’s tough (and not really fair) to judge whether or not a place is worth visiting by a five sentence description in a guide book. But it’s the best we have. I usually use the following methods to scout out where I want to go.

1. Word-of-mouth recommendations. Assuming you know someone who lives(d) or has been visited the area, they usually know where to go.

2. Guide books. I love Frommer’s–especially its itineraries. They’re a great way to “check off” various places that are near each other and worth visiting.

3. Blogs. I probably don’t use this method enough, but I’ll google things to do and have occasionally found a few interesting sites online.

4. Local travel magazines. I used Where Orange County to find a free hot-air balloon ride in California. Thank you!

5. Visitor’s Centers. These are great places to get coupons and find attractions.

6. Stops on tour buses. I probably would have never stopped by the Farmer’s Market in L.A. if it hadn’t been a tour-stop on my bus route.

7. Sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon are great for finding restaurants if you’re in a specific area.

8. Tripadvisor is good too.

I usually find that word-of-mouth recommendations are the best ones. But unless you know someone who’s been there or lives there, these can be tough to get. Although I once saw a gorgeous home in Lucca, Italy (It’s a shame that I can’t recall its name) because I saw it on a postcard and thought it would be pretty. I was right.

That is one of the best things about traveling. Despite doing plenty of research beforehand, you never know when you’re just going to stumble across an interesting place. Like this adorable brownie shop in Beverly Hills or this cupcake shop in Laguna Beach.

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