How do you find those often talked about but elusive “hidden gems” that give a city or destination it’s charm and character when you don’t know where to look?
These gems are often hidden because they don’t have the big budgets for marketing and advertising like your average Museum of Fine Arts or 5-star restaurant, yet they’re known by the locals for providing invigorating cultural and culinary experiences to the neighborhoods and cities where they reside.
Ask the residents what’s up
Where does the cashier at the general store like to go for dinner? Where does your train conductor enjoy shopping, or what do they like do on the weekends? The people who live and breathe a city know how to tell the overrated spots from the more practical, beneficial and rewarding options for everyday living, and they’ll know where to find the truly best cup of coffee in town.
Read the local literature
Chances are, one or more city guides or maps found at visitor information centers will be published by a small local company, and be mostly free to editorially tote the real worth of its destination’s charm, as opposed to catering to clients. Do some research to find out what the journalists, public relations specialists and critics of the area are saying about where they call home. Reading Yelp reviews is also a handy way of finding out what both visitors and locals think of their neighborhood resources.
Check out the road less traveled
Don’t judge a dive bar by its neon signs and gritty façade — hidden gems are often found because someone stumbled upon them unexpectedly. Venture off the crowded main strips to peek into the windows of little shops and cafes that may not be getting the attention they deserve. Museums, shops, restaurants, sights or other destinations that are considered “hidden gems” retain an outstanding quality, and can be identified by the strength of their customer service. Go in and have a chat with the staff. You never know, you could find your perfect fit.
We can see it now and remember when it happened to us: Watching as the black car icon loops around and around, seemingly endlessly, and our wait time on the rideshare app continually changes. Long wait times and confused drivers are just a few bothersome issues that can nag at rideshare users. Need a solution? Ditch rideshares altogether in favor of renting a car on your next trip.
Barcelona’s insane popularity and large influx of visitors as of late may have some travelers steering away from the Mediterranean coastal city, but just outside the overpopulated center of the city, known as Ciutat Vella, are quieter neighborhoods that offer more of a local feel and don’t come with exorbitant tourist prices. El Poble-Sec is one such area that rests between the towering Montjuic park and the Old Town, making it a nice escape but still close enough to access the sights.
In food capitals like New York City, foodie crazes seem to rise and set as quickly as the sun, but one trend that has endured for awhile now is the city’s penchant for regional Chinese cuisine, and the East Village is home to some of the city’s top spots for sampling your way through several of these regions.
Dining is an art, and now that applies to both on the ground and at 35,000 feet thanks to Hainan Airlines’ “Hai Chef” Inflight Artistic Chinese cuisine series, a collaboration with Dong Zhenxiang, a Chinese culinary master also known as Dadong.
Some places appear better to visit in the winter. For example, anywhere known for winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding, will be less visited in the summer because those same people are going to spend their time at the beach or another destination. However, visiting these destinations during the off-seasons can show a side of the city or town that can’t be seen under piles of snow. It’s worth checking out a couple of these favorite winter destinations.