Major urban cities are a source of fascination to many people. A metropolitan area is usually defined as having a population of 1-3 million; that’s more people than anyone could ever know and remember. Those inhabitants are crammed into a relatively small area, and over the years both the city and its residents evolve, shaping their lifestyles in countless different ways and creating a unique urban experience.
For this reason, travelers visiting a large city for the first time often feel the need to come back, in order to properly experience and enjoy their destination. But this desire to explore a city isn’t limited to visitors; locals may also feel curiosity and the desire to explore their surroundings more thoroughly. The writer Franz Kafka, for instance, famously spent his entire life in Prague, and explored his home city through a prolific body of work. Today, we can all use a break from routine and find new ways to appreciate urban living – these tips will help you do just that.
Try something different
Exploring something new may mean different things to a local compared to a visitor. For a tourist in Detroit, it could mean visiting the Belle Isle Park instead of more famous destinations like the Ford Museum. A local, on the other hand, may have been to these places a handful of times already; new experiences could mean trying out an artisanal café in Sterling Heights, and maybe finding a new go-to dessert spot in the process. With all the information available at your fingertips on the internet, it’s easy to look up the top attractions in any destination – and often those sites will draw the crowds. Read through reviews of what to expect; if it sounds like something you’ve already experienced elsewhere, you may want to pass and search for more off-beat adventures.
Get a little lost
Travel in the age of Google Maps can offer a very different experience compared to what people were accustomed to before the turn of the millennium. While online reviews are incredibly helpful, and having a planned itinerary maximizes your time and safety, sometimes getting slightly lost can stimulate the sense of wonder and enhance our faculties for observation. Having a keen eye for the details can help you spot obscure shops selling one-of-a-kind goods; it can lead you to a memorable dining experience at a restaurant that’s not on the review boards, or have spontaneous conversations and interactions with locals. Keep your itinerary in mind, but let your feet wander while you fully take in your surroundings.
Read up on travel advice online and you’ll find many tips regarding how to best plan your itinerary and cover all the must-see spots in a day or three. While this method can be appealing, especially for people with limited time, it can also dilute the quality of the experience. How often do you see tourists flitting from landmark to landmark, snapping away with their cameras and moving on to the next spot on their list? You can understand more about a city by soaking up the information at a single museum or exhibit, for example. As a bonus, you probably waste less time on the road, too.
Whether you’re seeking ways to enjoy free time on a business or leisure trip, or just looking to step outside the ordinary and explore your native city from a new angle, keeping these practices in mind will help you maximize the experience each time.