How to Get to Know a New City

Whether you're traveling on vacation or checking out a new city or town for your family's possible relocation, you can make the most of your trip with some basic tips.
  • First, do some research on the place you plan to visit. Your destination is only a link away when you search the Internet. Beyond online resources, you're bound to find insight from people who have been there. Just ask around. Travel agencies and local motor clubs update info regularly to stay in tune with changes in all kinds of climates — weather, business, and reception to newcomers. They have brochures and booklets available for the asking.
  • When you arrive, figure out who and what you can look to for advice and direction. You may find books or magazines in your hotel that tell you what's happening locally. Your concierge or desk staff can give you more details about times, transportation, and best choices for everybody you have traveling together.
  • Go on a tour of the city. Either explore by wandering around (be careful about less-than-safe areas you may walk into without being aware of the dangers) or find an escorted walking tour that takes you to a manufacturing, historic, or ethnic district. Consider a bus tour that gives you a sense of the city and different areas within its reach.
  • Search out landmarks and favorite local places to learn about while you're visiting. Pick a museum; a park; a statue or monument; a well-known restaurant, grocery, clothing, hardware, or second-hand store. Ask the locals what they appreciate about their community and where they go for pleasure and shopping.
  • Take pictures and buy postcards. Your personal memories can be brought back home in more than one way. Postcards are inexpensive, and they capture a view of what's central to life in the place you're visiting.
  • Build a book about your travel experience. Call it a photo album, a scrapbook, or a daily journal. Too soon, some of your travel details will fall to forgetfulness (especially when everyday routine takes over again). Write about what you saw and thought and how you felt about it all. Pick up souvenirs that are free (receipts, wrappers, newspaper pages, play programs, menus, little sketches you make along the way). Put everything together with your pictures.

When you get back home, talk with your friends about where you've been. You may found some common ground — and a fresh perspective — from their personal experiences in a similar location.