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How to Experience a City Like a Local

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Experience a city like a local - Tampa

We all occasionally need a break from our daily routine–packing a bag and catching the next flight to a different city offers the perfect escape! 

We travel to gain new experiences, to see, do, and eat things that are out of the norm.

Sure, being a tourist is fun; exploring landmarks and hotspots you’ve heard of for years. But if you truly crave an authentic and unforgettable vacation, immerse yourself in the culture and experience the city like a true local.

The idea of being somewhere new can be intimidating yet exhilarating. Not knowing what to expect but eager to embrace a different lifestyle.

We’ve put together a list of travel tips, that will help you experience a city like a local. So, toss off the tourist cap and get ready to adventure through a destination like you’ve lived there your whole life.

Research your destination

Rule one before jumping on a plane is to do your research. Check out UNATION to see if we’re in the city you’re traveling to.

If so, you’ll have a wide variety of stuff to do and events to attend, which are all curated by locals in the city! Other ways to research your destination is by asking a local for suggestions, searching the internet, or scrolling through the city’s geotag on Instagram.

Make a list of popular monuments, must-see venues, restaurants, and any other places you hope to visit. From there, you’ll get a taste of what the city has offer, but you’ll also be able to replace any tourist traps and crowds with local recommendations.

Eat like a local

Nothing brings people together quite like food. Traveling somewhere new opens your eyes–and your taste buds–to a whole new range of flavors and foods you may otherwise be missing out on. 

What better way to celebrate another culture than to indulge in dishes they love?

Rodeo Houston

After all, what’s Mexico without street tacos, Italy without homemade pasta, or Paris without fine wine?

Eating like a local is the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. Skip the popular food chains, you can always get them back at home. Instead, shop from local markets, say yes to street food, and even sign up to take a cooking class.

Those memories will be the highlight of your trip. Remember, whatever you do, don’t let the unfamiliar discourage you. You can find advice on how to find the best markets by checking out these travel bloggers.

Play like a local

Now that you’ve eaten like a local, it’s time to play like one. Where do locals go post work for happy hour or to catch a sports game? Every city is different but there’s usually some hip neighborhood where everyone goes to brunch or a city park that hosts awesome weekend events.

Ask around. Waiters and bartenders are the kings and queens of the party scene. Nine times out of ten they’ll know popular bars and nightlife spots where locals go for a great time.

Uber drivers and even a stranger on the street are also great resources to utilize. You never know, you may end up sparking a new friendship.

Find hidden gems

Secret Garden

Hidden gems are unique spots yet to be discovered by many people. They’re magical places that get you excited when you find one–like a creative mural on the side of an abandoned building, a breathtaking view at a rooftop bar, or a waterfall at the end of a long hike. These special destinations are what you remember the most.

There’s honestly no great trick as to how you find these places off the beaten path. One person’s hidden discovery could be another’s typical Friday night.

With that being said, you just can’t go wrong with the classic word-of-mouth. Whether it be from family, friends, or locals recounting their experiences in a city. Often, the best places you visit are those recommended by other people.


Pay attention to how locals get around, it can be an adventure on its own. Are you in a bike-friendly city? Is there a metro or train that everyone takes?

Their public transportation can take you away from tourist areas and allow you to visit places you didn’t find on Google.


Of course, there are always times when taxis, car rentals, and ride-sharing services are the best and safest option. 

Have fun while exploring

Traveling like a local in any city could easily become your favorite way to travel. You’re bound to have an experience worth sharing and maybe even some fresh recipes to practice at home.

Remember, don’t be afraid of the unknown—experience a city like a local and embrace any new culture with an adventurous attitude! 

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