Travel Gear

Travel apps better than a tour guide

Skip pricey bus or walking tours on your next trip and instead download these apps, which offer historical insight and cool bits of trivia about areas around the world. Bonus: you won't have to lug around a guidebook.

Walking tours are a great way to learn about an area. Unfortunately, guided tours are often expensive and require that you stick with the group and your guide, with little to no time to do your own exploring. But some apps are looking to replace those guides, giving you the ability to take a tour at your own pace for just a few dollars. Here are eight worth checking out.

  • 1. Detour

    Detour

    Detour.com

    Free

    Detour takes the traditional audio tour to the next level with tours that will impress locals. The app uses your phone’s GPS to pinpoint your location, and guides offer an insider perspective of destinations, often with interviews of people you can meet in person on your journey. For instance, the tour of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf explores the working side of the wharf. You’ll see where fisherman unload their daily catch, and learn about hidden gems in the area, including a vintage arcade with working games from the 1800s. Detour is currently only available in San Francisco; there are seven tours available, with a new one added each month. Tours can be purchased individually or you can buy a yearly pass for $20.

  • 2. Field Trip

    Field Trip

    FieldTripper.com

    Free

    Turn a casual stroll into your own self-guided our with Google’s Field Trip. The app runs in the background on your phone and shares information about different spots around the world using a pop-up notification. Even better, the app makes suggestions on where you should stop for lunch or shop for gifts based on recommendations from places like Zagat and Thrillist. You can see things like a picture of Harlem from the winter of 1956 and read about how locals handled those icy conditions, or learn about Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London before ever taking a step inside.

  • 3. Sunday Drive

    Sunday Drive

    iTunes

    Free

    With the low gas prices we’ve been seeing lately, it might be time to plan a cross-country road trip. Sunday Drive helps you map out the perfect journey by pointing out historical landmarks, waterfalls, museums, and fantastic photo ops as you drive, along with tips and history from locals. Drives are programmed onto a map, and your phone helps you navigate to each point of interest on a particular route. Themed trips include “Cascade, Cowboys and Corn ” an 83-mile trip that takes you past South Dakota’s 1880 Cowboy Ghost Town, the Sioux Falls, and a Corn Palace.

  • 4. Roadside America

    Roadside America

    iTunes

    $2.99 for one of seven regions in US/Canada

    Never miss out on a giant ball of yarn, quirky museum, or local replica of Stonehenge again. Roadside America points out nearby attractions that are worth a look, and provides hours, phone numbers and even directions on how to get there. The app also has tips on must-sees at each spot. You can use it to plan your next road trip or as a guide to find unexpected stops near your current vacation spot.

  • 5. Stray Boots

    Stray Boots

    Stray Boots

    Free

    What would happen if you combined your average walking tour with a scavenger hunt? Stray Boots has over 60 different self-guided jaunts available (for a fee) in cities like Atlanta, Copenhagen, Nashville, and Paris. While you wander, the app suggests scavenger hunt-style challenges, such as trying a new food, to complete along the way. An “at home” section of the app allows you to learn trivia about other destinations from the comfort of your couch.

    Check out more travel apps that will help you discover cities.

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