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  • Writer's pictureKat Yasuda

How to explore a city’s secrets

I love cities. I love how each one has a unique personality, and how there's always something interesting going on somewhere in any city you visit and you always need to sniff it out. But amidst all the hustle and bustle, it can be easy to forget that cities are also full of secrets. They may not be buried treasure or ghost stories (though they could be!), but they're still part of what makes every city special. Here are some ideas for finding some hidden gems in your next trip.



Always be willing to get lost.


Exploring a city’s secrets is not about finding the most obscure place you can. It’s about being open-minded, experimental, and willing to get lost. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to find anything?


Getting lost often leads to some of the best discoveries in life. It might be a new restaurant or bar that no one has ever heard of before, or maybe even an entire neighborhood with hidden treasures waiting to be found! You could stumble upon an art exhibit that people wait months on end for tickets to attend or discover an amazing piece of architecture right under your nose.


Let's face it: there's nothing wrong with having a map handy, but sometimes it's fun just getting lost in a city and seeing where it takes us.



Listen to the locals.


If you're planning a trip to a new city, the first thing you should do is visit the local tourism board's website and book your hotels. After that, it's time to start discovering what makes that city special by asking around. Talk to your hotel concierge or taxi driver and ask them for recommendations on where to eat, drink, and hang out with friends. Then, it's time to gear up and explore the city. Whenever I go out during times like this, I like to wear my Cash & Carry around - the crossbody strap makes it easy for me to carry everything I need comfortably.



Find out if there are any hidden or secret bars or clubs.


If you want to find a place that's not on the main drag, try searching for bars or clubs that are in non-prime locations. The best way to do this is by checking out local blogs and asking around. If there are any secret bars or clubs in your town, it will be easy enough for someone who knows about them to point them out. Then, it's time to grab your favorite clutch and enjoy the exclusivity that a secret bar holds. My favorite one for these occasions is the Envelope Clutch paired with my favorite black dress. Simple, elegant and with a touch of mystery just like the night asks for.



Make a list of things you want to see and do—and leave room for improvisation.


When it comes to actually exploring a city, you may find yourself in some situations where things don’t go according to plan. Maybe an event you were planning on attending is cancelled or rescheduled. Maybe the weather has other ideas about how much time you want to spend outside (or in). Maybe there's an emergency at work or your flight gets delayed, and you need to stay overnight. It happens—and it can lead people who are new to traveling (or even just new at visiting this particular city) into a tizzy when they realize their carefully-laid plans need adjusting.


The key here is not letting FOMO (fear of missing out) overwhelm you which can lead you to make decisions for yourself that are based on last-minute uncertainty rather than what works best for your trip. That said, if something does come up that forces some improvisation in your itinerary, don't worry: You'll get another chance later! And although everything might not always go exactly as planned, remember that it's often those unplanned moments that end up being the most memorable of all anyway—and that's part of the fun!


No one knows it all, so embrace spontaneity and try to get off the beaten path.


Get off the beaten path. There are always hidden gems waiting for us if we just take the time to explore them; this doesn't mean getting lost on purpose (although sometimes that's necessary), but rather being willing to walk down less traveled paths or try something new instead of sticking with what we know works out well in most situations.


One of the best parts about exploring a new city is not knowing where you're going. You might think this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it's actually kind of fun! Even if you get lost or have no idea how to get back home, it's all part of the adventure—and it'll make your trip more memorable. It could seem scary at first, but it can be surprisingly easy to get back on your path with some basic navigation knowledge and good old-fashioned walking around town.


One way to get yourself from point A to point B without having any clue as to what route that might be is by asking people on the street for directions—you never know when someone will be able to help out! And even if an apparent stranger doesn't immediately have an answer for your question (or refuses outright), he or she might still have other useful information about where you're going and how best to get there. If nothing else, these interactions are likely going to end up being pretty fun...


If all else fails and you end up lost without any hope of finding your way back home again before nightfall sets in (or worse), don't panic! This happens often enough, so much so that most cities have developed ways of dealing with tourists who've gotten themselves into sticky situations like this one: just ask someone working at one of their tourist attractions (like museums) how they would go about finding their way back home again using public transportation or foot power alone; then follow their instructions accordingly until everything goes smoothly once again!


Stay in a fun neighborhood—but off the main drag.


You’re traveling to a city you don’t know well, so what do you do?


Stay in a fun neighborhood. The best way to get an insiders’ view of a city is through the eyes of its residents. This can be done by staying away from the main drag with all its tourists and instead finding a place where locals live and play. You might feel like an alien when walking down these streets but trust me—it will be worth it!



There are many neighborhoods in cities that are known for their coolness—for example, Greenpoint or the Lower East Side in New York City, or SoHo and Greenwich Village in Manhattan. But if you’re looking for something less touristy, try exploring a slightly less-trafficked area. Not only will it feel more authentic than staying in an area where people come from all over the world to visit your room, but it will also give you access to the kinds of things that make a city truly unique.



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