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I always feel nervous when out-of-town guests come to stay, citing their enthusiasm for being guided through my city by “a local.” This is because my city of Houston, TX, includes more than four million people and as many private townships as there are citizens. There’s so much to see and do on an average day in Houston that I could never try everything—even if I lived here my whole life! When this happens, I turn to apps to help me plan a tour that will be the most fun for my guests.
Whether your goal is to plan a spring break, summer, or winter family staycation; fill a free weekend with fun plans; or take a visiting friend on a “locals only” tour, here are some of KCL’s favorite apps for ferreting out fresh, fun, free things to do in your home city!
1. Like a Local
- Get it for iTunes (free)
Like a Local won Mashable’s highest rating for “convenience and accuracy about cool spots.” The app is free to download and will never incur roaming charges for use. It covers 24 European cities and is curated by local-only reviewers. You can search through 4,000+ reviews to find the best of the best hotspots.
2. Field Trip
Field Trip is like inviting an experienced, local tour guide along for the ride. Using the phone’s GPS, the app runs in the background and gives you instant updates when you near an interesting hotspot or local historic site. The app can also integrate with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to read the information to you as you drive. You can even activate the app during your normal daily commute to learn new things about your own city!
3. Time to Enjoy
- Get it for iTunes (free)
This calendar-based, free app finds fun events for you to enjoy exactly when you have time to attend them! Right now it performs this amazing feat for cities throughout North America and Europe, with global coverage in the works. You can use zip code or city name to set a location and search from there. The app has a customizable search radius up to 50 miles, and you can have the app automatically add upcoming events to your calendar.
Eventbrite is perhaps the most comprehensive worldwide repository of happening and upcoming local events. The iTunes and Android app support Eventbrite’s online site handily, giving you instant access to events, including directions and detailed maps.
Scout (formely Goby) is an increasingly popular free app that lets you (literally) scout for local USA happenings just by using your phone’s GPS navigation system. You can use the app’s voice recognition system to activate its help without typing anything, and the app will give you hands-free verbal instruction and directions as you drive. Mashable, PC Magazine, ZDNet, and other travel authorities all give Scout kudos.
6. Oh! Ranger! Park Finder
This fabulous, free app helps you find national, regional, and local parks in any USA location. Each of the park entries is comprehensive; it includes hours, events, activities, concessions, lodging, any fees and much more. The app also helps you cross-reference parks with activities you want to enjoy.
Finally, no list of activity-finding apps would be complete without mentioning Yelp, which is perhaps the most comprehensive, well-trafficked and well-liked resource app in the world. You can read user reviews, make reservations (through OpenTable), generate directions right from the app, fine deals and much more.
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