Jon Chase, CNTraveler.com
Though there's certainly no shame in it, no one likes to feel like a tourist. And unless you're staying with a local (or have made travel research a full-time job), it can be hard to unearth the hidden sites, lesser-known haunts, and authentic flavors of a given city. That is, it used to be: Apps to the rescue! These standouts put visitors on the inside track to the best food, music, historic sites, and culture in cities around the globe.
Chefs Feed, free
There's no shortage of eat-and-drink apps, but few are as compelling as this 2013 Webby winner, which is like a star-chef social network. Visit a U.S. city and browse the reviews of signature dishes that have been singled out for greatness by other chefs. And these aren't just run-of-the-mill players but literal Top Chefs: Batali, Boulud, Chang, Keller, Vongerichten, et al. It's a fun way to stumble upon new restaurants while being assured a surefire meal.
Like a Local, $1.99 per city
In theory, all guidebooks aspire to treat readers to the insider experience, but Like a Local is assembled by hundreds of local writers with a no-nonsense attitude. (Skip the tourist traps!, they cry.) Guides offer hotel, restaurant, and bar options across a couple dozen European cities, sending visitors to sites that aren't packed to the gills with wide-eyed visitors. We especially like that you can use Like a Local without an Internet connection: Just remember to download a city guide ahead of time (the app is free, but you pay for individual guides) and it's stored on your smart device of choice.
Field Trip, free
Itineraries are fine for mapping out a day, but they're useless when it comes to explaining the significance of that statue over there, the history of the piazza you're in, the notoriety of a local cocktail bar. That's were Field Trip excels: Based on your location, it offers up snippets and articles about what's nearby from reliable online resources (from Atlas Obscura to Zagat). You can choose to filter sources and content -- be it restaurants, historic hotspots, or curiosities -- and enable pop-up notifications on your smartphone so you don't miss something cool as you galumph on by. Or simply access it during a pause in the day for a quick hit of context or an impromptu suggestion on what to do next.
One of the hardest things to organize on vacation is the post-dinner entertainment -- in particular, finding the best spots to see live music. Timbre improves on local listings publications by letting you search a city, find out who is playing and where, and sample audio of their hits. If you like what you hear, you're able to buy tickets right within the app; if not, simply swipe to the next artist, rinse, repeat. Come to think of it, Timbre is just as handy at home as it is on the road.
Photo: Jeff Greenberg/Alamy
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