Whether due to travel restrictions or the cost of foreign travel during the global pandemic, staycations are king. The key to enjoying a break in your city is not doing the same old same-old things you ordinarily do, which means you need to find local gems and other hidden adventures.
Is that easier said than done? Not when you use these handy tips. We’ve put together a few hints that can help you find all sorts of magical locations and activities off the beaten track.
1. Google Is Your Friend
The best place to start looking for hidden gems in your city is where you probably begin most of your searches online, namely Google. Using a search term like “tourist attractions in [the name of your city]” is likely to bring up all the places you already know, so you’ll need to be a little more creative. Don’t limit yourself to looking at the results on page one. See what pages two and three have to offer.
Use search terms such as:
- Cool/interesting places near me – Google will tailor results to your location
- [Your city] + local blog – Local blogs can be great sources of information on hidden gems
- [Your city] + secrets/hidden gems – There’s a good chance at least one website is dedicated to places off the beaten track in your city
2. Check Google Maps Or Google Earth
Search terms such as “landmarks,” “hidden gems,” or “viewpoints” on Google Maps for a tailored map of places of interest in your area. There’s a good chance you’ll find many familiar places on the map. But there’s just as good a chance that you’ll see places of interest you never knew existed.
Look up your city on Google Earth and enjoy a bird’s-eye view it offers. You may spot areas worth exploring.
3. Turn to the Tourism Board
Most of us aren’t likely to visit our city’s local tourism board because we think they’re for tourists. They certainly are for tourists—and you’re one in your own city, so don’t hesitate to pay your local tourism board a visit.
Whether you visit the office or the website, you’ll find a wealth of information about great things to see and do. You might even find a few discount coupons for attractions or activities such as a ride on a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus.
4. Consult Atlas Obscura
One of the best websites for finding local gems, hidden adventures, quirky attractions, and dramatic, Instagram-worthy places is Atlas Obscura. The site covers locations around the world, where it finds the weird and the wonderful. Search for your city or town on Atlas Obscura and see what you find.
5. Search On Instagram
Instagram may not seem like the most obvious choice when hunting for local gems and hidden adventures in your city. However, the social media platform is used by more than a billion people. Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy posting beautiful pictures of the amazing places they visit?
The best accounts to check for interesting venues and activities in your town are the accounts of the local tourism board, lifestyle publications dedicated to your city, and local influencers and photographers. Snoop through their grid and look for places that are unfamiliar to you. Searching hashtags related to your city on Instagram also can produce interesting results.
6. Use Public Transport
If you have your own vehicle or use services such as Uber to get around your city, you might want to rethink that while you’re looking for local gems. Use public transport instead. Not only will you see your city from a different perspective (and different routes), you also will have a chance to speak to other locals.
Ask them about the places they enjoy visiting when they have time off. Their answers might surprise you.
7. Try Geocaching
Something like a hunt for hidden treasure, geocaching is an activity that will take you onto and off the tourist path in your city. You’ll need a GPS device or a smartphone, and you’ll need to visit the geocaching.com website and sign up to participate.
The activity is free, it’s fun, and it’s sure to introduce you to places you never knew existed. Before going geocaching, make sure that the areas you’ll be visiting are safe.
8. Get Lost In Your City
Getting lost in a city is something many of us dread when it doesn’t happen intentionally. Do it on purpose, and you’re likely to find a few hidden gems.
The easiest way to “get lost” in your city is to grab a map, put on your walking shoes, and make sure you have a hat for the sun, sunblock, enough drinking water, and a small healthy snack. Head out, start walking, and see where your feet take you.
Another option is to make your way to the highest viewpoint you can access. Take a look at your city and see if you can spot any pockets of beauty. When finding a place that looks interesting, see if you can find it on your map, and then start walking. Who knows what you’ll see on the way there?
9. Buy a Travel Guide to Your City
You can find guides for everything online, from travel guides for far-flung places to buyers guides for everyday items. Reputable travel guides such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are written to help tourists find all the major landmarks as well as local gems and hidden adventures. Find the guide that covers your area and start reading. Make a note of all the interesting places and activities you didn’t know about.
10. Join a Local Interest Group’s Walking Tour
Local interest groups, such as heritage or historical foundations, may organize walking tours that offer people a chance to visit and learn more about various places and spaces in your city. Join one of their tours to gain a new appreciation of the locale.
You’re likely to see a few attractions you already know, but you’re also likely to find a few local gems and hidden adventures that you can return to when you have the time.
Explore Your City
Your city is a treasure trove of local gems and hidden adventures. Use the 10 tips above to find them and enjoy a different kind of adventure on your doorstep.