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Old 01-13-2012, 03:46 PM
 
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It's been a mild winter, and I haven't gone exploring in a while, so I decided to book a couple of bus tickets to different cities next week.

When exploring other cities, I'll typically eat at local restaurants, walk around on foot (and transit if available), study the architecture, people watch, get a feel for the vibe, etc. I tend to look for inexpensive activities such as free museums and the like.

Each city is different, but after a while, it begins to feel the same. So, I'm soliciting others for more ideas. If you visit other cities for leisure, what kinds of things do you like to do?
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Denver
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Love walking and driving around. Talking to the people fascinates me too, people from different regions are nice to talk to. I met a guy from LA today and could have talked to him much longer than I did.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:30 PM
 
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I do some research beforehand and figure out what neighborhoods I want to check out. I like to stay away from downtowns if I can (unless there's something specific I want to see, like a certain building or park or something). I prefer to spend most of my time in the residential neighborhoods to get a feel for the people and the way they live. Street life is a big deal to me. I try to look for a city's pulse. I usually plan a few "urban hikes" before I leave, often around a 4 mile loop to see a good variety of neighborhoods, and I'll check out restaurants and shops along the way. I'm also a photographer, so I always have my camera in hand. Like you mentioned, using transit is a good way to get around and see the folk. And honestly, if you don't mind playing the tourist for a few hours, city tours can be pretty cool. Although, they can be better if you're not alone. When I am alone, there's nothing like getting out and trying to get lost for awhile. You can discover some cool things that way.

By the way, where are you visiting? Just curious.
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:18 PM
 
Location: BMORE!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xGrendelx View Post
I do some research beforehand and figure out what neighborhoods I want to check out. I like to stay away from downtowns if I can (unless there's something specific I want to see, like a certain building or park or something). I prefer to spend most of my time in the residential neighborhoods to get a feel for the people and the way they live. Street life is a big deal to me. I try to look for a city's pulse. I usually plan a few "urban hikes" before I leave, often around a 4 mile loop to see a good variety of neighborhoods, and I'll check out restaurants and shops along the way. I'm also a photographer, so I always have my camera in hand. Like you mentioned, using transit is a good way to get around and see the folk. And honestly, if you don't mind playing the tourist for a few hours, city tours can be pretty cool. Although, they can be better if you're not alone. When I am alone, there's nothing like getting out and trying to get lost for awhile. You can discover some cool things that way.

By the way, where are you visiting? Just curious.
That's one of the reasons i like to explore a city on a weekday during business hours. Preferably a friday so I can get a taste of the city's everyday life, and the nightlife.
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Old 02-03-2012, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Carrboro and Concord, NC
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Wander around, preferably alone. When I was a teen-ager (we're talking 17 or so - I'm 42 now), I had the rare privelege of being able to do this in Georgetown, and parts of SF and Manhattan, and not only did I not get messed with, those places were real wonderlands. To this day, New York, Washington and San Francisco are my favorite American cities. And LA is not, because when I went out there for the first time (at about the same age), you had to drive EVERYWHERE, and to me that sucked beyond belief.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:08 PM
 
Location: Michigan
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I like to drive around as well. If I could, I'd prefer to ride my bike around because you often miss a lot of things while in a car. Though, obviously, not every city is bike friendly and of course if you're on a time constraint you might not see much. Then again, for some cities you might see a lot and be able to go farther.

So far, I've only ridden my bike in local neighborhoods I've moved into (I've yet to move out of the metro) and not really while travelling. But it's definitely something I always think about doing when I'm out of town.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:54 PM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
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I always try to find food that isn't available where I live. It usually means a random local diner or restaurant but can also be a chain that doesn't have locations close to me. I try dishes/cuisines that the area has thats unique like gator meat in Florida, authentic Mexican food in Texas etc.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:59 PM
 
Location: Huntington Beach, CA
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I try to get lost then find my way back. Amazing what you find off the beaten path.

Biking is the best way to cover territory.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:32 PM
 
Location: New York NY
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One thing I live to do on a different city that helps me get a feel for the place is visit the local grocery stores. Always interesting what brands are popular -- like how it's hard to see Pepsi in Atlanta or just different food like shelves of (cow) brains in the south or puchki (jelly donuts ) in Detroit or have somebody in an Illinois store hand me two tablets of Alka Seltzer in a store when I asked for some soda--meaning something like Coke. Strange things in supermarkets. It's an eye on the locals through their food
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Old 02-04-2012, 01:01 AM
 
Location: Bay View, Milwaukee
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When I explore other cities I like to explore the downtowns well enough, but like other posters here, really enjoy checking out residential or historic or artsy or ethnic neighborhoods of note. I also like exploring "vintage" or "retro" neighborhoods with lots of 50s and 60s signage, diners, donut shops, etc.--like southside St. Louis. I love taking a look at the colleges in and around cities, and it's a plus if there's an interesting neighborhood nearby to observe--Evanston, for example. If I have wheels with me, I like to drive around the richest suburbs and see what they look like, just because--Clayton and Ladue near Saint Louis, or Chicago's North Shore, for example. If the city is situated on or around water, I like to walk around the riverfronts, lakesides, and other access places for pedestrians (like the riverfront access in Mpls). I try to read about the city ahead of time, so I can visit a neighborhood and think about its ethnic or industrial past or some other key feature.

The food thing is important to me on my visits. I read about local specialties on Roadfood.com - Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats and other sources, and make plans to sample heritage foods and visit old ice cream parlors, candy stores, horseshoe-counter diners, Asiatowns (like Buford Highway in Atlanta), and other sites of interest. Sometimes I even visit local groceries and supermarkets--decades-old butcher shops and sausage makers, historic farmers markets, local co-ops, and so on--neighborhoods like Soulard in St. Louis stand out. Usually such visits to a city include a meal at an Indian restaurant or some other ethnic place that may not be historically identified with the city: some of the best Indian food I've had in the states has been in Terre Haute, Ind. and Huntington, WV!

I look for local, independent bookstores and cafes, and try to hang out a bit and chat people up--the East Side of Providence is great for this. A visit to a museum or two is good, but sometimes really rewarding are the oddball galleries tucked away in offbeat neighborhoods. I'm not much of a shopper, but if I happen upon an independent store that has unusual merchandise, I may take a look--neighborhoods like Lakeview in Chicago have quirky commercial zones. I'm more likely to see out city parks, including each city's "big" or historic park with fountains, rookeries, etc., like Audubon Park in NOLA. If there is some kind of flora or fauna to look for in the area, that will be an attraction--like the bat houses on the U of F campus in Gainesville.

The city I live in has lots of these things, too, so I keep trying to visit and revisit it whenever possible.
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