One of the most challenging parts about planning a trip isn’t finding the flights or hotels, it is figuring out what you are going to see/do when you are there. It can be a time consuming thing, but without spending the time researching what there is to do, you may miss out on something that you really wanted to see.
Finding Major Attractions
A quick and easy way to find major attractions in a city is to do a Google image search for [city name] attractions. This will pull up thumbnail images of the attractions in the area. If you see something that looks interesting, you can click on the image and are redirected to a webpage which will hopefully provide additional details including the location, admission fee and more.
While this isn’t a perfect method, it will give you an idea of the main things that there are to see within the city and present them visually which is always helpful.
You can also do a standard Google search using [city name] things to do. This will pull up numerous listings of things to do. While there is more information, it’ll take you longer to filter through the information than to glance through the Google images.
I have found that the best sources of information are the city’s board of tourism for domestic travel and travel blogs for international travel.
Everyone that is planning a trip probably already knows about TripAdvisor, but it has to be mentioned. The best way to find things to do in a city is to type in the city into the location field and then type in “things to do” in the “What are you looking for?” field. You can also get more specific with what you’re looking for and it will give you a list of the top ranked things to do in the area.
We actually did this when we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand on our honeymoon around Southeast Asia. At the time, the #6 attraction was a cat cafe called Catmosphere. We laughed that it was the #6 thing to do in all of Chiang Mai, but it was just what we were looking for so we planned a visit during one of our excursion days.
Yelp has a great use beyond restaurant reviews. Enter the city name and search “attraction”. A listing will pull up that you can further filter by price, average rating, neighborhood and more. As an added bonus, there are reviews from those who visited the attraction. These are great sources of information as they can include tips and what to expect.
Finding Unique Attractions
Roadtrippers is my favorite site for finding bizarre and unique attractions. While the typical use of Roadtrippers is for road trips, you can search for attractions within a city as well. Click on the “explore the map” and enter the city name. From there you can filter by attractions, natural wonders or weird stuff.
Those who have visited the attractions can upload pictures and leave a review. While the member base is smaller than Yelp, it will give you a general idea if the attraction is really fun or somewhat lackluster. We’ve found a few different unique things through Roadtrippers, like our visit to the World’s Largest Pistachio in Alamogordo, New Mexio. It wasn’t the most interesting thing in the world, but it was a fun stop and our friends loved our posts on social media about it!
Ensuring You Don’t Miss Out
If an attraction is popular, you should consider making a reservation. If the activity is outdoors, this can be tricky. It’s a balancing act between making sure that you are able to partake in the activity but not getting stuck in bad weather. If the odds are that it won’t fill up more than a few days before, consider holding out until the weather forecast is released.
Before you go anywhere that charges admission, check to see if you can purchase tickets online for a discount. There are a few times where Andy and I didn’t check this first and overpaid for our admission tickets. In addition to discounts for ordering tickets online, there are often discounts available for senior citizens, students, children or active/former military.
Come up with a list of things that you are interested in seeing. Make sure that you don’t plan out what you will be doing each day or at least not every day of your vacation. As much of a planner as I am, having flexibility to say I just want to veg out by the pool is a great feeling.
Are there any tips that you have for planning a vacation that I missed? Share them in the comments below.