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Top 10 Ways to Explore a City

Ready for a Road Trip?

These tips can help your family get to know a new city -- or even explore the hidden treasures in your own hometown:

1. Take a city bus/trolley tour. Get settled in your hotel, grab a quick bite, and then buy tickets for a city tour. Within an hour you'll get a "feel" for the layout of the city and an idea of the places you may want to visit.

2. Explore one museum in depth. Huge museums can be overwhelming, especially with kids in tow. Plan on spending two hours max, taking in the areas of most interest to you. Stop in the cafe for a breather and buy high-quality postcards and prints at the museum shop. Some museums even have kids' gift shops, with educational toys, games, and books.

3. Visit the botanical garden or local park. Even if it's rainy, you'll enjoy the respite of an unhurried walk through tranquil green space. It's rejuvenating for the whole family, and a great place for kids to run around and let off steam.

4. Go on a historic walking tour and get to know one part of the city really well. Tour guides can suggest good places to stop for a snack or meal, along with places of interest that appeal to families.

5. Use your concierge. He'll know the good local restaurants, when the shops open, how to find public transport, and best bets for kids.

6. Keep a daily journal. You'll be amazed at how quickly you forget what you did each day of that long-awaited vacation. Young children can draw pictures or collect interesting scraps (flyers, menus or paper placemats, exotic candy wrappers) to decorate the pages.

7. Buy postcards of major attractions. Many foreign postcards are sharper, more colorful, and have a greater perspective than most amateurs can shoot.

8. Pass up souvenir shops and investigate the local hardware, grocery, and department stores for unique items. (This one may be difficult with very young children!)

9. Tear out the guide book pages that you'll need that day, instead of lugging around a large touring book. Consider buying a nice book when you leave that captures the scenes and memories of your trip.

10. When travelling abroad, use simple foreign phrases well and often. Even if you know only "Hello" and "Good-bye" in the host language, effort will be appreciated by the "natives" and may even encourage them to use their two words of English in return!

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