One of my favorite sites that helps with planning and enjoying travel is TripAdvisor. You can do many things at this site but I use it mostly for finding things to do in the area and restaurants in the area. You can also book hotels and flights and vacation rentals, but this is not what I use the TripAdvisor for.
First, let’s talk about restaurants. We all want to find those special places that have wonderful food and that great ambience that will provide us with those memorable meals. For the ranking of restaurants, TripAdvisor relies on the reviews of readers who provide rankings and feedback. Like any type of review system, it’s not perfect, and you will see some reviews that may not be authentic, but most of them seem to be real opinions from real people.
You can generally tell by reading enough reviews what the general consensus is for the food, service and the special features of that particular restaurant that may interest you. I would recommend that you read through at least 10 or 20 reviews to get an accurate rating of the restaurant. Not only can you find out about the quality of the food and service, but often comments mention specific dishes or drinks that you may want to. For example, at one of the restaurants we ate at near the Marco Polo airport in Venice, I ordered a ginger carrot soup that was highly recommended by several people in TripAdvisor reviews. It was something that I would probably never even think about ordering, but it was one of the best dishes that I had on our trip
To find restaurants that you might want to try, click on Restaurants and type in the city that you will be visiting. You will find dozens or hundreds or thousands of restaurants listed by a rank from number one to the bottom. My experience has shown that usually if the restaurant is in the top 10% or so it’s usually a pretty darn good restaurant. It doesn’t actually have me number one or two to be worth considering – anything in the top 10 or 20 percent could be worth a try.
One of the features I love at TripAdvisor is the view map feature. For example, if I put in New Orleans, Louisiana, I get GW fins as the number one out of 1,489 restaurants in New Orleans. Well, that’s a lot of restaurants and I really don’t want to go through all those trying to find one that is close to where I’m staying. I I don’t want a restaurant that is going to be 10 miles from where I’m going to be staying. So, generally I click on the map and check out the restaurants that are closer to the location I am staying in it.
I’m going to a writers’ conference in New Orleans in September and will be staying at the Astor Crowne Plaza on Canal Street. So after I click on the map, I find where Canal Street intersects Bourbon and Royal streets, the location of my hotel. I then concentrate my search in that area for restaurants.
Each restaurants is represented by a purple dot. I can click on the purple dot and it’ll pull up the name of the restaurant, the ranking and then the number of $’s to tell me how expensive it is. I generally try to stick to two or three $’s, or even one $ if I just want some cheap eats and I don’t want anything fancy or expensive.
Let’s say I’m on a budget and I want to limit myself to two $’s. I click on purple dots near my hotel until I find a two $ restaurant, Deanie’s Seafood on Iberville Street. Seafood sounds good. I see they have American, seafood, and even some gluten-free recipes. So I click on the restaurant and it brings up the screen with a picture of the restaurant and some of the dishes they offer. There are 3,069 reviews from the TripAdvisor community, and Deanie’s Seafood ranks at number 99 out of 1,489 restaurants in New Orleans. Now, number 99 sounds like pretty far down the list, but it is still in the top 7%, so it’s probably a pretty good restaurant. I read about 15 reviews and find the stuffed shrimp, the seafood platter, the bread pudding, and several other dishes received rave reviews. Other comments about the restaurant give me a pretty good idea of what to expect. Sounds to me like Deanie’s Seafood is worth a try.
I normally try to find three or four restaurants in close proximity to my hotel that I will try if I get a chance. That is much better than just wandering up and down the street and hoping that you get lucky and pick a restaurant that’s good.
Things to Do
Another great feature I like at TripAdvisor is Things to Do. For example, go to TripAdvisor and type in New Orleans for My Destination, and then Things to Do in New Orleans. It pulls up the top attractions ranked number one through 316. I’ll usually look at the top 10 or 15 and see if I can find several things that look interesting that I want to do.
Not only do they have information that you would expect on well-known places like Jackson Square or the French Quarter, but they also have information on places like the World War II Museum and City Park and others. There are likely several places you may not of even heard of it if you’re not familiar with New Orleans.
When I find things that look interesting, I click on it and get reviews to give me some specific information about this particular place, like a brief description, activities, how much it costs, the parking situation and other details. It’s been a great help in planning our trips.
Also, just like the restaurants, Things to Do has a map feature where you can click on the map and you can see orange dots representing the places listed in Things to Do. You can click on the dot and it’ll tell you the name of the place and the rating, and if you click on it you can get more detailed.
Overall, I think TripAdvisor is one of the most useful sites available on the web for planning and getting information for your upcoming trips. So what are you waiting for? Plug in My Destination, and see what adventures await you!