10 Sites to Book Local Tours, Experiences & Activities Online: Airbnb vs. Viator & Others

When it's time to plan your next vacation or getaway, you'll want to be sure you're living like a local. Luckily there are plenty of sites and resources for booking local tours, experiences, & activities in almost any city around the globe. Here are our top 10 picks.

Passport? Check! Suntan lotion? Check! Bikini? Check! Stress-free tour and experience booking guide? Hmm... 

Are you planning a vacation or quick getaway? If you're like us, your time away from work is precious, and you want to spend it doing exactly what you enjoy most. For vacations, that used to mean calling a travel agency or paging through multitudes of planning guides to create the optimal tour and activity schedule. 

But no longer! Now there are websites brimming with the best of each region's tours, activities and experiences, waiting for travelers to scroll through and book their own favorites from the convenience of their laptop, tablet, or even their phone. Take a look at some of the most popular ones we found before you dial up that expensive travel agent.

Viator

Founded in 1999, Viator is a TripAdvisor company which advertises activities, tours, and regional events through an extensive network of partners and sites.

In giving travelers direct access to booking their activities, Viator simplifies the trip-planning process and helps them avoid excessively long lines and sold out events while providing 24/7 multilingual customer service, millions of authentic previous customer reviews, and a 24-hour cancellation policy.

Before you set off on your next voyage, be sure to visit Viator to peek at the region's best activities and tours, figure out how much you'll need to spend to see what you like, and view options available for duration and booking. Here's how it works:

First, enter your destination in the search field. You'll be shown a list of activities in your destination:

We chose Chicago, and there are a ton of opportunities to experience the city, including: 

  • Air, helicopter, and balloon tours
  • Classes & workshops
  • Cruises and water tours
  • Culturally themed tours
  • Food, wine, & nightlife activities
  • Holiday/seasonal tours
  • Kid-friendly activities
  • Concerts & sporting events
  • Spa tours
  • Sightseeing deals
  • Shopping/fashion packages
  • Theme parks
  • Walking/biking tours, and more

You definitely won't be bored once you reach your destination!

You can choose your price range, look for discounts, and input your ideal time duration, i.e. number of hours/days spent engaged in the activity.

Subscribe to get updates on Viator's trip-planning opportunities to your inbox. You can also call in toll-free for info or if you'd rather not book online.

What types of activities/tours can you book? 

You can book a wide array of tours and activities on Viator including air and/or water tours, classes/workshops, culturally themed tours, food/wine/nightlife activities, sightseeing deals, theme parks, kid-friendly activities, walking/biking tours, and more.

How does it work? 

Enter your destination, select activities based on your interests, ideal time frame and price, and book directly on the Viator site from your desktop or smartphone. Groups and corporate events can be booked here.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Viator's team of pre-vetted travel insiders and local experts design the best of each region's experiences worldwide, backed up by over 1 million verified traveler reviews, photos, and videos. Check Top Insider Picks for the best locally selected tours and activities. Additionally, Viator Private Tour Guides provides the largest network of qualified local guides on the internet, where customers can review tour guide profiles, qualifications and reviews left by other travelers, or even contact guides via the onsite messaging system. 

Viator pros:

  • Guides are informative, friendly, and punctual
  • Has a solid 4 stars on Trustpilot (73% excellent ratings out of 7,179 reviews left)
  • Great time-saver, especially if you're unfamiliar with the area
  • Has an A+ rating on BBB website

Viator cons:

  • Some complained of misinformation/tours lacking elements they believed were included
  • Some had trouble finding tour guides or contact info at meet-up site
  • Some were denied refunds they felt they were due

Bottom Line: 

Viator reviews indicate it's a great option for travelers unfamiliar with their destination. If you do have familiarity with the region, however, digging around on the site may save you money — do a little comparison shopping. 

Viator maintains impressively high ratings on BBB and Trustpilot. Make sure you thoroughly read everything printed on your trip/tour voucher, and if possible, confirm in writing the cancellation policy on tours before booking; most are non-refundable within 24 hours of the event. Check out their lowest price guarantee, too.

Airbnb Experiences

They aren't just for booking rooms anymore! Airbnb now offers experiences, tours, and other activities in every region of the globe.

Whether you prefer breezy nature trails, intimate concert venues, decadent food/drink tours, immersing yourself in the arts or nightlife, or strolling through quiet historical settings, Airbnb has something in every city for you.

When you visit the Airbnb Experiences site, you can choose your vacation dates:

Then select the number of adults and children participating in the tour/event and find the price range that's right for you. You can even choose the optimal time of day for your activity:

When I selected our preferences for 3 people on October 31st in Chicago after 12pm, Airbnb offered these events in our price range:

We liked the Gangsters and Ghosts Tour, so we clicked in for details:

Inside, we can read about the host, what the tour involves, how long it lasts, the starting times offered, the languages in which it's offered, the price per ticket, and where we'll meet up:

And we can read also through 125 reviews from previous tour participants:

Then finally, we get suggestions on some similar tours we might like, for more stuff to do while we're in town:

We're sold on this tour, so we booked it! Perfect Halloween activity in the Windy City. Now let's wrap up our assessment of Airbnb Experiences:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Everything you can imagine — nature walks, art and architecture tours, surfing expeditions, food and drink excursions, nightlife, sports, history venues, holiday events, classes, horseback riding journeys, etc. — in every city.

How does it work?

You enter your preferences for destination, activity type, how many guests and their ages, time of day, price range, etc., and everything relevant pops up. From there you can read specifics of each experience offered.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

While most experience hosts live near their tours, their home address is not a deal-ender. Instead Airbnb asks that hosts be "deeply knowledgeable" about the content offered, which can be demonstrated by skill level (i.e. you built a business or career out of your knowledge/love of the subject matter), college transcript studies, proven hobbyist experience levels, awards won in the field, the host having been featured in articles on the topic, etc. You can read further details here.

Airbnb Experiences pros:

  • Devoted tour guides/hosts lead events
  • You can read through previous participants' reviews before booking
  • Ease of use, can book via the local experiences app on iOS and Android tablets or phones
  • Decent pricing
  • Great customer service

Airbnb Experiences cons:

  • Experiences may be shared with numerous others, often booked to max capacity for max profit, which may or may not make it more fun
  • Your tour group may not be the only one touring the same event/space - busy cities are busy and your booked experience may be one of many, i.e. wait times may occur

Bottom Line:

Most Airbnb Experience reviews indicated guests appeared to enjoy themselves, giving top star ratings on their experiences and hosts. Be sure to read through the reviews left on your destination experience before booking. Want to host an experience? Find out how it works here. You can also check out Airbnb's Guidebooks here for all the experience and other sites recommended by Airbnb hosts in every town.

Klook

Continuing our experience-booking excursion, we're finding lots of interesting alternatives to Airbnb. Klook is one such site, offering local experiences for destinations across the planet, including local travel tours, Klook travel curators' suggestions on seasonal activities and events, favorite spots booked by previous travelers, and more.

Klook delivers handpicked experiences, backed up by millions of user reviews. Their best price guarantee promises the best deals on experiences offered or they'll pay you the difference, and their app's seamless, safe booking procedure ensures security and accuracy.

Download their app for Android or iPhone for fastest booking and payment options.

When we entered our Chicago destination, we found an activity we liked (a helicopter ride), and clicked in. The experience page opened up to an exciting video of the highlights from previous rides, prices and package options, what to expect on the day of the event, cancellation policies, FAQs, and reviews from past tour guests. (Make sure you read all of these sections before booking - there may be requirements you would not be aware of otherwise).

Klook also showed suggestions for similar activities we might enjoy while in town. The Segway tour looks kinda fun, too!

Looks like some promising experiences are in store for us! Now let's get into a summary of our Klook visit:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Everything from hot air balloon rides to fall foliage tours to river rafting, skyline luge tickets, spa treatments, and cooking classes.

How does it work?

Enter your destination, choose from categories available, select your date and number of people, view your package details, what to expect, and all activity info, then book!

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

While we couldn't see whether our selected helicopter tour was led by a local (we assume it is), many tours will highlight the tour guides' specifics, especially if they are multilingual. Check each experience for yours.

Klook pros:

  • Klook reviews on VerifiedReviews maintain a 4.8 of 5 stars from over 13,000 reviews
  • Payable in a variety of currencies
  • As you book and complete experiences, you earn credits toward new ones
  • Bookings are confirmed instantly
  • There are lots of promos, especially if you download the apps
  • Great prices and a 'best price guarantee'

Klook cons:

  • Site seems sluggish
  • Hard to find info on specific tour guides

Bottom Line: 

With over 13,000 positive reviews on VerifiedReviews, Klook is doing something right. Prices are great and bookings are simplified. Subscribe to their email list for discounts up to 60% sent to your inbox. Corporate discounts are available here. Got more questions? Try Klook's FAQ here.

Expedia 

Next up on our local tours tour is the renowned Expedia. Yes, Expedia is allowing travelers to book local experiences at many worldwide destinations, too! You'll just have to head to their Things to Do page to start booking your local experience.

When we entered our Halloween Chicago preferences into their search field, we were informed that there were 65 things to do in Chicago on October 31st. Wow! Let's see what some of them are:

Looks like you can search through categories of Adventures & Excursions, with an average price of $271, Tours & Sightseeing with an average price of $80, or Attractions & Nightlife with an average price of $61. 

You can also find recommended local expert picks, family-friendly suggestions, or new Expedia tours (top left corner), and other assorted tour, activity, and transportation types (along left side of page).

If you'd like to see how others enjoyed the activities, check their rating and reviews. Each activity has a number in bold, followed by the number of reviews posted, just below the title of the activity in blue. (see above.)

Looks like the helicopter ride gets 5 of 5 stars from the 12 reviews posted — but it's also set at a slightly higher price than Klook's was. It might be time for a 'price match guarantee' search if we were really intending to book!

Other than that, we found an affordable river tour of Chicago's architecture that looked pretty good:

Ratings look great, too, but sadly our Halloween date was not available. It might be too cold on the water that day, so we opted for an early September date instead.

And the results were plentiful, so we booked a 10:45 AM ride without further ado:

While you're on the site, you may want to download the app in order to receive the latest info on Expedia's coupons and discounts.

And booking Expedia experiences can earn you Reward Points like booking hotels can, which are redeemable in various ways to save you money in the future. Very nice!

What types of activities/tours can you book?

You can book walking/bike/water/air/balloon/helicopter/bus tours, shows and sporting events, discounted passes to museums and other attractions, dining and food/drink tours, dinner cruises, and more.

Are any of the tours led by locals?

Yes, most of the tours are led by very well-informed local tour guides - even guests born and bred in the town being toured may learn new things from these brilliant and entertaining tour guides.

Expedia pros:

  • Members get discounts off things to do on Expedia
  • Fun, knowledgeble tour guides
  • You can read ratings and reviews on each tour/experience by previous participants

Expedia cons:

  • Too many cooks in the kitchen at times; make sure all parties involved with your event are on the same page with your booking. Some reviews claim Expedia goofed on their end when dates needed changes or other details got confused

Bottom Line: 

Expedia has lots of events, superb guides, and great prices. Just make sure if you make changes following the initial date on the booking that everyone involved (Expedia, the tour guide company, etc.) has the same information.

Peek

We now find ourselves at our 5th stop on our local experiences and travel tours journey, which brings us to Peek.

On their website, Peek's founders explain that they only work with the highest quality vendors, creating a team of travel experts who hand-select the best activities for each customer's travel style.

Peek has Travel Guides you can review if it's your first time visiting a destination to give you a tentative list of the top attractions. They also provide "Perfect Day" itineraries, which compile tips and schedule the best of each city according to tastemakers.

We put in our Chicago destination for the week of Halloween once again, and Peek found us 70 tours and activities during our designated time frame. That's quite a few! (It probably helped that we forgot to enter our price range):

Here are some of our favorites from that grouping:

Looks like they've got the same Gangsters and Ghosts Tour we peeked at on Airbnb Experiences — and for the same price as well. 

We decided we liked the rating and the price on the Haunted Lincoln Park Walking Tour, so we clicked in for details:

Looks like a 2-hour walking tour through an original cemetery 'known' to be haunted, as well as several other scary locales in the city like the site of the actual St. Valentine's Day Massacre — and good news, there's plenty of availability left.

One of the best among their Chicago local knowledge tours, guests will surely be enthralled with this adventure.

We can also read the reviews and ratings of past participants, which add  up to the tour's current 4.5 star rating after 53 reviews. Not bad! So, we'll go ahead and book:

There wasn't a tour open for the night of Halloween, so we opted for the night before. Good enough! Now let's into our summary of Peek:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Peek lets you book everything you can think of as far as sightseeing, culturally-themed events and activities, food/nightlife, boat tours and cruises, sky tours, hop on and off bus tours, water sports, and more.

How does it work?

Enter your destination, dates of travel, and price range, then click on the category of activity that interests you when they all pop up. You can sort through them and view your favorites in detail as you go.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Most are either from or currently live in the regions they're describing on the tour, and all are highly knowledgeable on the tour's content.

Peek pros:

  • Numerous activities to choose from in a variety of categories - something for everyone!
  • Prices on par with other experience booking sites
  • Courteous, informative staff and tour drivers
  • Efficient, easy-to-use site
  • Maintains an 8.2 out of 10 rating on ResellerRatings site after 132 reviews
  • Groups of 10 or more get special deals

Peek cons:

  • Some felt the classes they signed up for were too difficult for their skill level
  • Some mentioned confusion with activities offered through the Peek site vs. offered at actual activity locations; dates were different/prices, etc.

Bottom Line: 

Peek maintains high ratings on review sites and has prices about equal to others we've reviewed. The site seems easy to use and the tour drivers/guides are well-informed. If you have a discrepancy with anything you've booked through Peek, try contacting their customer service at support@peek.com. Do you have a tour or other type of activity you'd like to offer for booking through Peek? Go here.

GetYourGuide

GetYourGuide comes in next on our search of local communities' experiences booking sites, offering access to top attractions around the world:

Cancellations are permitted free of charge on GetYourGuide for most bookings up until 24 hours prior to start time.

When we entered our Chicago destination, we saw several top attractions pop up:

When we entered our Halloween-near dates, we got some other nice results; some familiar, some new:

You probably noticed that Chicago helicopter tour right away, didn't you? And you can also see that the price on it is just about in the middle of our 2 former tour competitors — a little cheaper than Expedia's $142 and a tad more than Klook's $133. Interesting to note the subtle differences — now let's get into our Chicago tour thru GetYourGuide:

This time we went for the 2.5-hour Historic Pub Crawl Walking Tour.

Looks like we'll explore 3 bars significant to the history of Chicago and learn facts about the Magnificent Mile and Chicago's jazz clubs. Fun! And we can read reviews from former participants, which cumulatively gave this tour a 4.6 out of 5 star rating. Not too shabby!

So we tried to book it for our Halloween date, but it's already totally booked up! We're flexible, so we put in for the closest available date to that, which was the 29th, and:

We got it — woot, woot! Now let's get into our summary of this experience booking site, GetYourGuide:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Everything from timed entrance tickets to the Louvre Museum in Paris to a guided tour of the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, and St. Peter's in Rome to a 1.5 hour canal cruise of Amsterdam or a helicopter tour and pub crawl in downtown Chicago.

How does it work?

Enter your destination, desired dates, and the categories of activities that interest you. Click on the ones that look best for details on each one, then click 'book' to get the reservation/tickets. Super easy!

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Yes! And GetYourGuide also offers their popular 'Like a Local' customized guided tours as well, which feature a Local Guide (or a"Lokafyer"), to show you everything from the perspective of the locals, such as these below:

GetYourGuide pros:

  • GetYourGuide maintains a solid 4 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot after 2700 reviews
  • Convenient and easy to use site
  • Reasonable prices
  • Guides are informative and helpful, offering plenty of insider tips on the area

GetYourGuide cons:

  • Some stated there were discrepancies between their voucher and what was offered on the tour

Bottom Line: 

GetYourGuide has a very high rating on review sites - but that doesn't mean every single tour and every single guide is going to be superb. Be sure to read plenty of reviews before booking, and notify the booking site at your earliest opportunity if anything seems amiss. Other than that, GetYourGuide has decent prices compared to similar sites and their 'Like a Local' tours are known to be very popular and many fill up fast. Any questions? Contact GetYourGuide's multilingual customer service team for answers

Nowboat

Without a doubt, one of our most interesting finds of the day has to be Nowboat. Committed to donating 3.5% of their profits to ocean-protecting NGOs, Hong Kong-based Nowboat offers a vast array of sea-based activities and adventures throughout the watery world.

Do you love snorkeling, sailing, diving, cruising, wakeboarding, surfing, kitesurfing, or windsurfing?

Or are you more into enjoying a relaxing cruise, dancing it up on a party boat, or indulging in the finest of seafoods?

How does Greece sound for starters? Or maybe Thailand, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Indonesia, or Spain?

Into their homepage introductory search fields, we entered our favorite activity and destination as 'diving' and 'Thailand' — for which the following results showed up:

We clicked in for details on this one:

The Catamaran 48 is owned by a former chef who is ready to take you on a relaxed cruise featuring Thai and European cuisine and activities both in and out of the ocean.

If you're interested, you can opt for the Thai massage offered and then fall asleep in your private cabin which has an opening hatch allowing you to slumber under the stars while listening to the waves lap at the boat.

The Catamaran 48 package includes the essential crew, snorkeling gear, outside loud speakers, and an 8-person tender with outboard. The entire boat is 48 ft. in length, has 6 cabins, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, living room, and washer and accommodates up to 20 people.

If you're interested, you send the operator some information to begin discussing your trip:

Since this particular voyage is sufficiently out of our current price range, we won't bother Georgios with a message — but you can, if your budget is in the proper range!

If our selection doesn't float your boat, just adjust the activity, region preferred, and other search criteria until you find something that does. Here's what came up when we entered 'kitesurfing', for a few examples:

Plenty of options! After you pick one and consult with the operator, you head to checkout, select your favorite NGO project to support as part of your booking, and then start packing!

During your checkout, you get to choose the NGO project that receives their next donation. NGOs currently listed include the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Mission Blue, and others. We love it!

Now let's get into a summary of Nowboat:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Pretty much anything water-related like snorkeling, sailing, diving, cruising, wakeboarding, surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, etc.- as well as rock climbing and other land activities mixed into some packages.

How does it work?

You search for your favorite tour/activity, message the fleet operator to get details and exchange pertinent info, select your NGO for the donation, and get ready for your trip!

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

All are professional tour operators and charter companies carefully vetted for safety, environmental consciousness, ethical labor practices, as well as various insurance necessities. Each is very familiar with the area they work within to provide tours or activities.

Nowboat pros:

  • Numerous types of tours, excursions, and activity packages worldwide
  • Tour operators are professionals and are carefully vetted
  • Provides an easy-to-use, all-in-one platform for booking sea adventures

Nowboat cons:

  • Most tours are quite expensive

Bottom Line: 

If you don't have your own boat and doubt you ever will, this might be the next best thing! If you're in the market for a trip like this, we highly recommend you take one. They look divine and the guides are well-vetted and experienced. We couldn't find many customer reviews other than FaceBook which were mostly just 5-star ratings with little more info, so if you book with Nowboat please do tell us about it! We'll be jealous, but we'll listen.

Showaround

See the highlights of your favorite city with a hand-picked local tour guide! Showaround helps match locals to visitors for tours of cities or certain aspects of cities. The hourly price ranges from free to around $100/hour, and you can search through locals' profiles until you find one you like. In London, for example, there are 293 Showaround locals signed up to choose from. Here are a few of them:

You can apply advanced filters to help find your ideal Showaround local as well:

Select your price range, languages spoken, type of activities you enjoy, and the gender you prefer, or a couple.

If you like, you can create a trip on Showaround, and get offers from locals to participate in your trip.

If you want to sign up as a local in your town, just follow these instructions.

Locals don't have to be experts. They can just be passionate and knowledgable about their city and have fun, outgoing personalities!

Let's check out what we can do to get shown around local experiences in London. Here we go:

We decided to look at Joe's profile for our Showaround Local. He has 6 perfect reviews from previous guests, and his price is $2/hour. Once we create a profile, we can view his. Here's Joe:

Joe is fluent in two languages, and knows about several types of London activities including shopping, food and restaurants, history and culture, art and museums, and exploration/sightseeing.

We created a trip on Showaround — here's what the process looks like:

You enter the info above regarding your trip, including where you're going, the dates you'll be there, number of people going, and the type of local you'd prefer.

Then your trip is created!

You can also sign up for updates through your Facebook Messenger if you wish:

Now let's get into our summary of Showaround.

What types of activities/tours can you book?

You can choose from categories of shopping, nightlife and bars, food and restaurants, art and museums, sports and recreation, walking tours or pickup and driving tours, or exploration and sightseeing.

How does it work?

You can browse through locals to see who seems good for your tour, or create a trip to let locals respond to you. Both require you to set up a profile, which you'll want to fill in thoroughly and add a few pictures. You can use the app too - go  here to download.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Yep, they are all locals!

Showaround pros:

  • Many locals are cheap or even free; some are multilingual
  • You can read reviews of previous guests who've toured with locals
  • Payment options in a variety of currencies
  • Most reviews indicate guests enjoyed their tours and their friendly locals

Showaround cons:

  • Some didn't like the way payments are collected
  • Some didn't feel their local was professional enough

Bottom Line: 

Showaround is a fun and easy way to meet locals for tours which can be cheap or even free. Just be sure to read enough reviews to find out about the person, make sure you observe basic safety precautions, and enjoy!

Vayable

You can find unique experiences to explore in every city when traveling with Vayable. Search by the type of experience that interests you, such as adventure tours, dining, shopping, romance, art, nightlife, food or wine, architecture, walking/biking tours, historical tours, photography, and more. You can also sort your results in order of popularity, reviews, least to most expensive, or newest to oldest.

Here are a few of the experiences offered currently in cities around the world:

See anything good? We sure did! Let's peek at what they've got in our favorite Windy City destination now:

When we searched for experiences in Chicago, these above were the top results. As you can see, some of them are quite unique — not your everyday tours!

We decided to check out the 'Explore Chicago by Train' tour offered by Noah F. Here's what we saw when we clicked in:

The first page shows Noah's beautiful cover photo of the 'El' by sunset, and a little description of his tour.

Then you can go into his profile:

and even connect to a brief intro video of Noah:

If you want to contact Noah or leave a review about his tour, you'll need to create an account first.

Noah didn't have any reviews posted yet, though, so we visited another experience to see what the review section looked like. 

As you can see below, Russell H.'s Street Art Tour of San Francisco has 75 reviews:

And you can read them all, starting with Stephanie's below, right underneath his profile bio:

Nice! 

Want to create your own experience and become an Vayable 'Insider'? You can start here, and here's a little about it:

We love it! Now let's get into our wrap-up on this experience-booking site:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Anything that gives a tour or provides cultural enrichment or education about a destination. This can involve art, music, design, food, drinking, architecture, history, fashion, shopping, etc., and must be a high quality, safe experience.

How does it work?

Guests browse experiences in a certain city to find what interests them. Then they can create an account to communicate with the Insiders and request a booking. After that, guests enter their credit card information, contact info, and any message they wish to send the Insider. 

If the experience is categorized as 'Instant Book', you'll get a reservation immediately and your card will be charged. Otherwise, you'll be charged with the Insider accepts the booking (must take place within 48 hours of request, or the request will be denied). Insiders are paid after the tour is complete.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Yes, all Insiders are vetted as such and must be knowledgeable, personable, and trustworthy, and deliver a high quality, safe experience to their guests.

Vayable pros:

  • Provides unique, quality tours and experiences in every city
  • Insiders are vetted to be knowledgeable and trustworthy
  • You can book a small group or single person experience here, rather than show up to whatever size tour group the other sites end up generating (can be quite large).
  • Choose whatever activity interests you within your price range and book your Insider directly

Vayable cons:

  • Some weren't impressed with their tour and felt it was just average

Bottom Line: 

Vayable is a great way to charm visitors to your city if you know your way around very well and can provide a fun or unique activity or perspective on things. Guests should read reviews on tours and Insiders to get an idea of how they work before booking. Insiders without any reviews appear to be fairly common on the site, perhaps because they are just new. In any case, do what you're comfortable with on that note, and let us know how it goes!

SpottedByLocals

Get the goods on the best local spots in your city — or your upcoming vacation destination — from Spotters on SpottedByLocals.

Established in 2008, SpottedByLocals has created guides for 71 cities which are compiled on an app that can work even when offline. Spotters are locals to their cities, provide insight into their city via writing about their favorite spots, and commit to staying current and meeting SpottedByLocals founders in person. 

We love their Mission Statement

"We strongly believe many of the world’s problems are caused by people from different cultures not understanding each other. We aim to increase intercultural understanding, by allowing travelers to see a destination from a local’s perspective."

Get the SpottedByLocals app here to start using the features, including tips on where to go in your city and maps you can use even when you're offline.

SpottedByLocals is offered in 71 cities throughout the world.

Let's see what treasures we find in Chicago:

We can search by category:

Here's a lesser known spot featured in the 'Relaxation' category of the Chicago section:

And here's a very scenic downtown Chicago rooftop bar (yes, that is the Millennium Park bean in the distance):

There's also a listing for a bike repair station that offers free air — across the street from a bar where you can enjoy a drink while you're bike's getting fixed:

And here's a handy guide to riding the 'El' like a local:

We can check out some of Chicago's hand-picked spotters, too:

You can follow them on Twitter to see new spots posted as they're found.

Interested in becoming a Spotter? Check their video here for how the Spotters feel about it.

Lots of gems hidden in there! Now that we see how it all works, let's get into our final summary of the tour - on SpottedByLocals:

What types of activities/tours can you book?

Anything and everything. These aren't necessarily all tours, though - they are cool locales which have been spotted by locals who thought you should know about them. All are available and accessible to those who live in the cities as well as those considering a visit. The app costs $3.99 per city guide. They link to Booking.com for hotel bookings.

How does it work?

Users download the app and it's $3.99 per city guide. You can view each guide as it becomes relevant for your travels or just whenever you wish.

Are any of the tours or activities led by locals? 

Yes! All.

SpottedByLocals pros:

  • Maintains a solid 5 stars on Product Hunt for their app after almost 30 reviews
  • Impressive network of spotters are each personally vetted by founders of the app
  • Get tips on where to find the hidden gems and out-of-the-way spots locals enjoy, not just the main attractions of the city
  • Some especially liked the offline maps; said this app has changed the way they travel

 SpottedByLocals cons:

  • Only covers 71 cities so far

Bottom Line: 

Discover some off-the-beaten-path treasures with this app. Some have called SpottedByLocals a "traveler's must-have" local guide, and found it very useful, especially with so many features available offline. They may not have every city in the world yet, but they've got a great guide for 71 of them so far. Got further questions or need info about the app? Go here.

So which booking site do you like best, or do you prefer a different site entirely? Can you recommend a specific tour or activity you enjoyed? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below! 

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