You’re going to visit someplace you’ve never been before, and you plan to spend a few days or a few weeks there.
Of course you’ll want a city guide. But which is the best city guide?
Basically, you have three choices: First, a real live person. Many larger cities have personal city guides who will show you their city, for a fee. Give them some parameters, and they’ll do all the legwork. The advantage of a city guide like this is that your experience will be much more in depth because you can ask questions and the guide can intuitively anticipate other questions and provide answers, or take your experience in different directions, based on the conversations you have.
Second, many of the best city guides are in print. You’ll find lots of maps, ratings and suggestions for restaurants, hotels, shopping areas, spas and beauty shops, sightseeing, walking tours, entertainment and places of worship…and a lot more. These city guides are for the do it yourself tourist or visitor and vary in complexity and scope. Many of the best offer well respected ratings on places you might want to visit, plus their costs and amenities. They are very useful, and are in handbook form. Many visitors will start with a printed guide, making some basic decisions on what they want to see and do, and still go with a personal guide for the extra presentation and experience.
The printed guides are also sometimes directed at new residents of a city, helping with details someone moving into town would need.
Third, and gaining in popularity, are the online guides for your smartphone, tablet computer or computer at home. Although many of these are not nearly in the detail of a printed city guide, they have the benefit of being updated many times since your printed guide was published (and in fact, some printed guides offer online service as well). An online city guide is ideal for making spot decisions on the run, finding out where you are in the city and how to get to the next place, or where the nearest public bathroom is…or where to get a wedding license.
City guides have been around for many, many years. But only recently have you been able to carry them in your phone, where they’re updated instantly and ready to service you in many new and innovative ways.