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Tech: Five Apps for Touring a Big City

By Hailey Balzam

Do you want to learn about your next destination without the limitations of a tour guide?


Thanks to innovation in tourism technology, you can see the best of any big city on your time. Whether it be the Windy City or the City That Never Sleeps, here are some of the latest and greatest ways to take a self-led tour.

Detour: There’s no better way to immerse yourself in a city than putting your feet to the pavement. Detour is an app that offers immersive guided walks with a virtual tour guide. Lasting 30-90 minutes, each tour costs as little as $5. Furthermore, the app tells you the best times to go and if there are any closures due to construction or roadblocks.

What sets Detour apart from its competitors is its ability to track you in real time. While most New York City tour packages provide the highlights of hot tourist locales– like Coney Island, Times Square, Soho, and Central Park– Detour allows you to peruse at your own pace and ensures the information you’re receiving is relevant based on your location. By partnering with local historians and journalists, Detour ensures the information they provide is accurate.

Sygic Travel (Formerly Tripomatic): Sygic Travel lets you take the trip planning process into your hands in the simplest way possible. You enter your travel time and your accommodations. Sygic shows you the must-see highlights and shows how to get there, the best travel route to take, and how long each sight and travel route will take. Toggle the locations you will and will not be visiting to fit your timeline.

If the do-it-yourself approach is too overwhelming, you can select one of Sygic Travel’s pre-organized routes. Take them as they’re prepared or alter them as you desire. This platform allows you to plan the trip in advance then access your plans from your phone when you touch down.

Citymapper: Citymapper takes data from industry leaders– Google Maps, Yelp, FourSquare, etc.– and fixes and combines everything in real-time to create a virtual city. Not only a fantastic way for tourists to get from point A to point B, but Citymapper is also used by the locals for their daily commutes.

Constantly evolving to meet the market demand, Citymapper has recently launched a pilot program in London that uses small busses on a set route for tourists to use at will. Offered in a hop-on-hop-off format, these busses hit the highlights while reducing the need to use public transport. Plans for Citymapper include the expansion of this service into major US cities.

DINE: To capture a city’s flavor, you need to experience the eats. With so many restaurants to choose from, the quest for sustenance can be overwhelming. DINE is an app that chooses the most popular restaurants based on your location while screening out the less appetizing options. You can filter the choices by neighborhood, food style, and even special events.

What sets DINE apart is its dedication to avoiding tourist traps and finding exciting options at all price points. You can even create and save lists and book reservations from your phone, quickly and conveniently. DINE will also identify iconic must-eat dishes for each city. Looking for deep-dish pizza in Chicago? Maybe Po’boys in New Orleans? DINE can take you there, making it the perfect app to partner with the apps mentioned above for a memorable–and satisfying– experience.

Happy Hour: Like DINE, Happy Hour is an app that helps travelers find sustenance. However, this app aims to quench one’s thirst rather than fill their stomach. Happy Hour uses your phone’s GPS to locate open bars in the area and provides a drink menu.

What sets Happy Hour apart is their partnership with local bars to bring you drink discounts when using the app. As drinks can be quite overpriced during prime time, the discounts will give you the experience you deserve without breaking the bank. Happy Hour can help you experience the nightlife in any city so you can party the night away.

So next time you’re hitting a big city, be sure to save lots of room on your phone for these fantastic apps, and of course, so you can snap a lot of pictures!

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