Best Way to Learn About Your New City – Be a Tourist!

Union Station in Denver's Lower Downtown (LoDo) Neighborhood

Union Station in Denver’s Lower Downtown (LoDo) Neighborhood

When traveling, we tend to experience a place differently than if we lived there. However, when you move to a new city, one of the best ways to learn more about it and get a sense of what the city is really all about is by exploring the city like a tourist would.

When I moved to Denver, I had been to the city a few times, but I had never explored it extensively. I live in a part of town that is a little separated from the more downtown neighborhoods, where most visitors spend their time. But Denver, and even more so, the Rocky Mountains just west of the city, draws visitors from all over the world. And I’m lucky enough to live here. So why not take advantage of that fact and have as many adventures in the area as I can?

Before I made the big move, I explored some resources about visiting Denver:

I bought a Denver guidebook. My favorite guidebooks including Lonely Planet and Let’s Go! guidebooks provide a lot of great information about the best parks, restaurants, shops, neighborhoods, coffee shops, and as well as a variety of other information, such as advice about parking and public transit, that can be equally valuable to tourists and residents of a city.

I used online resources. A Google search for “visit Denver” led me to the Denver Visitor’s Bureau and Trip Advisor pages about various sites in the city. I also came across the website for 5280, a magazine about Denver (named for Denver’s elevation—at 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver is also known as the mile-high city). The website regularly publishes restaurant reviews, has information about Denver’s different neighborhoods, and each month, publishes a list of free or nearly free things to do in and around the city that month. Though the 5280 site is more focused toward people living in the Denver metro area and less for visitors, it provides residents with great resources about making the most of the awesome place in which we live. (You’ll find similar city magazines in most cities.)

I contacted the local tourism bureau. These places have lots of great information about the city and surrounding areas, and resources about the best things to do and the greatest places to go while in town.

Once I made the big move, I made a point to get out to explore, biking, walking, and driving around the city. I visited different neighborhoods and parts of town that I don’t normally see between work and home. My advice to you is to the same. If you just moved to New York City, visit the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. If Nashville is your new city, spend some time checking out the awesome live music scene that draws visitors from all over the world. If you live in San Francisco, wander around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.

Even if you don’t live in a big city, make a point to get out and explore sometimes. Find a new restaurant or park, or visit the local history museum to learn more about your town’s past.

Exploring your new city as a tourist can really help you to get to know the place and become”local” faster, while giving your some fun things to do before you get too busy with all your new friends.

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Jessie Hoyng is currently renting her first apartment in Denver after spending most of her life in Iowa, and is loving it! She has a passion for pretty much anything and everything related to the outdoors, particularly hiking/camping, climbing and kayaking. She also adores folk and bluegrass music and plays guitar, mandolin and violin in her spare time.

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