How to experience the hidden community

Yesterday we talked about how the coolest neighborhoods can be, well, a little ugly, and how some places may pass the postcard test, but have little soul.

So how do you discover the hidden soul in the coolest neighborhoods?

1. Find a ‘neighborhood agent’ – anyone who lives, works or hangs out there. It’s really not worth visiting anywhere without one if you truly want to get to know a place. Period. Otherwise, you’ll get that ‘been there, done that’ feeling. I experienced Williamsburg in Brookln NY solo, then with an agent, and it felt like I was visiting two entirely different places – the ‘second’ one being far more interesting.

2. Stay as long as possible. Make sure you experience as many of the favorite coffeeshops, best-reviewed budget restaurants (which are harder to do), popular pubs and shops as you can… that the locals frequent. See as many live bands as possible. This will give you a strong vibe for the neighborhood culture. If you don’t know, ask! It really isn’t worth guessing – you may get caught in a tourist trap and get the wrong impression.

3. Explore at night, especially later in the week. The creatives are at work during the day, and come out at night to both patronize and perform at restaurants and bars. During the day, the place may actually look deserted, that is, until more companies begin moving in. Even in Rome, the difference in daylife and nightlife was, well, night and day.

Any other tips? Speak your mind below…

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