Moving to a new city is exhilarating, stressful, and sometimes terrifying. New people, new streets, new neighborhoods, new local pizza places, new bars, new coffee shops. It can be overwhelming on top of job hunting or getting used to college. How are you expected to also get to know your new city?
Here are five of the best ways to learn a new city and make a head start on going from lost new kid on the block to a comfortable local. Even if you’re a local, you can still use these tips to rediscover parts of a city you thought you already knew.
1) Release your inner tourist
One of the best times to let your inner tourist out is when you’re new. You know all those families and couples and backpackers stopped in the middle of the walkway, looking lost, obstructing foot traffic and even regular traffic by taking photos, unaware of the several social faux pas they commit? At the very least you know what certain tourist behaviors to avoid but otherwise, this is your chance to go wild and indulge in your new city. Learning can be fun and being a tourist is one of the best ways to learn a new city, or even a city you know.
Take the chance to be the tourists you will eventually begin to judge when your new city isn’t as new to you. Find some of the best and affordable local tours of landmarks or buildings. Tour guides know all the best local lore and, at the very least, the best bars to get a drink or which pizza place is the Best in the City™. Or you find your own way around. You won’t get all the nitty-gritty details or the historical facts and lesser-known local legends, but a city’s landmarks can tell you a lot about the city itself. Plus, they’re great photo opportunities for all your social media accounts and things to say that you’ve done that some locals may not even be able to lay claim to.
2) Find places to volunteer at
Part of learning a new city is finding opportunities and connections. Volunteering is also a great way to meet people with similar interests. If you’re out of school and have moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, making new friends is a lot more difficult than when you saw the same people on a daily basis for several hours.
Depending on where you volunteer, you can also learn about your new city through the people you meet or what you do. If you’re volunteering for after-school programs, you might have the chance to go to the local zoos or parks or go to areas of your new city that you otherwise may not be aware of.
3) Check out your new city’s local events
Wherever you go, chances are there are local events, sometimes free sometimes not. Festivals, fairs, holiday events, even a weekly farmer’s market that advertise the best produce or best local artists. There is always going to be something going on in any city.
Google Maps displays what events are happening be it a charity run in a park or a cultural festival or even a pop-up music event. See what your local cultural communities have going on–especially if they have food festivals which, let’s face it, are the best kinds of festivals.
With the holiday season upon us, there’s definitely something going on near or around you. The Mid Autumn festival may have just passed but we’re coming up on Oktoberfest and Halloween and there’s sure to be some great things going on in your new city. Get drunk, get spooky, and load up on German carbs and artificial sweets!
4) Find your nearest public library and get a library card
Not the most exciting thing but libraries are one of the only places you can be in without the expectation or requirement of spending money. Your local library will have events, be a quiet space if you need it, and there’s no better place to learn about what’s around you than a place that is founded on information.
Libraries are some of the best places if you want somewhere to just chill out. They also often advertise what’s going on in the neighborhood be it readings, free classes, tutoring options for being tutored or volunteering to tutor, weekend markets, sponsored events, and so much more. Might be heavy on the learning, but libraries are one of the best places in any city.
5) Pick a direction and go for a walk
This is one of the best ways to learn a new city. If you’re going to learn a new city, you have to get out there and experience it in person. You can look up all sorts of things online and read about the top five or ten or the odd twelve places to visit, but nothing beats going out blind and wandering. Learn the public transit system and walk until you can’t. You might discover little niche spots in your new city be it an amazing coffee shop, a hole-in-the-wall bar, or a corner of a park with a beautiful view of the sunset.
If you do any of the activities I’ve gone over above, you’re already doing a lot of this, unless you’re taking a Lyft or Uber or driving everywhere. If you have some free time pick a direction or an area to get to and set off. You might get distracted and take a few detours or linger in areas you discover, you might even get lost. But even if you do get turned around, you might find some of your new favorite places.
There are so many ways to go about learning a new city.
What are your best ways to learn a new city? If you’ve made any discoveries from these tips or on your own, let us know in the comments!
Images via Unsplash.com.