Are you a list person? I have to write a list for everything. Grocery list, to-do list, idea list…if it isn’t written down, I’m gonna forget it. To be fair, I might even forget it if I write it down. Visiting a new place absolutely requires a to-do checklist whether it's en route on a phone or an elaborately designed and printed itinerary (oh yes, I have- with a color scheme, personalized graphics and all.) having a travel plan means you’ll know what to do and what to see.
1.) Review Sites: Usually the first place you'd check for the top restaurants, tourist attractions: Yelp & TripAdvisor. Some people argue that these sites are oversaturated and it’s harder to find unique experiences, but if you just dig a bit you'll find gems. Like, did you ever think about looking for things to do before/after a cruise IN the Port town? If you arrive a day early for your Disney Cruise you could check out a Manatee Sanctuary. Get creative with your search terms. “craft cocktails” and “indie boutique” will find results more specific to your interests than “drinks” or “shopping” (that is, if you’re an artesianal locally-sourced hipster dork like yours truly)
2.) Crowd Source: Isn't that friend from high school living on the west coast now? What was your aunt's alma mater again? Didn’t you just see a neighbor's photos from their beach trip? Social media can be a beautiful thing- don't be afraid to reach out and ask for suggestions from your peeps. One time I was in Las Vegas, and I saw a fellow SCAD alum working (in costume, in character!) in the lobby of the Cirque du Soleil show Ka. I popped on Facebook, gave him a call and left a voicemail, and within 3 hours we planned a brunch the next day at Hash House A Go-Go — which was A.) Frickin’ delicious and B.) So far off the strip I never would have thought to go there.
3.) Ask the locals: The Lyft driver, barista, and cashier all live, work and play in this destination- somebody's bound to have a good suggestion! When I went to Chicago, I ordered a latte and asked where to shop- which is how I got some rad sunglasses at Una Mae’s indie boutique. And our Lyft driver (he was vegan!) reminded us about Chicago Diner- which, coincidentally I had already reached out to a former Chicagoan about on Facebook. Get chatty, learn stuff!
Are you planning any trips soon? Tell me where, maybe I have some good suggestions!