How to find the right bars, coffee shops and restaurants in small towns: a guide



On the Internet, you can find a lot of guides to major cities: what bar to go to, when and where local brand markets are held, what to do on Friday evenings, and so on.

But what if you come to a small town whose events and places are rarely written about (or not written at all)? We talk about several working options.

Explore Google Maps (and don’t forget to use filters)

The fastest and easiest way is to go to Google Maps and search for restaurant around you. Most likely, at the beginning of your acquaintance with the city, you will have to go through several fast food establishments, but then something more interesting usually begins: coffee houses, pubs, restaurants, family bakeries and so on.

Pay special attention to ratings and reviews: we strongly advise you to read them in advance and even write a separate note on your smartphone with recommendations. In reviews, visitors often share the best dishes in the establishment, so you can come and try win-win options.

Explore Social Networks

Basically, all you need to do to find cool places on social media is subscribe to one local bar and the algorithms will do the rest for you. In suggested or  similar accounts, the social network will most likely give you a list with a few more interesting places.

And if you additionally interact with the account, spend more time in it, then advertising and recommendations in the general feed will be connected further. You can try other search options – for example, on facebook, establishments often share posts of friendly businesses.

Look for guides around the city (and suddenly you’re lucky)

Perhaps there is already a detailed guide with cool places on the Internet, and all that is needed is just to enter a query in a search engine and scroll through at least the middle of the first page of the issue. Often we initially tune in to the fact that in some city (especially if it is small and not the most “fashionable”) there is nothing interesting.

But try to study the map of the new area better, and, perhaps, very soon your friends will come to you on Friday evening, and not vice versa! And if you can’t find ready-made text guides in the public domain, do not forget about the existence of TripAdvisor.

Look for new buildings

Quite often, it is in areas with new buildings that you can find family coffee shops, small bars or restaurants. Some of them are probably not even marked on the maps yet, as they opened quite recently.

Find new districts in the city and boldly set off to explore them! As a bonus, most likely, you will stumble upon nice beauty salons and sports studios (there are also a lot of them in new buildings).

It is important to remember that in new areas, focusing only on reviews in Google Maps or TripAdvisor is not the most winning tactic, so be prepared to be a pioneer and try everything in a row, focusing only on your intuition. It may take a long time, but there is a very high probability of finding a real gem in local establishments.

Chat with a bartender or barista

An item for those who have found at least one local bar or a cool local coffee shop. It’s time to turn off the awkwardness and inner introvert for 10 minutes and chat with the person who works there. Firstly, this way you will feel like a real hero of the series.

Second, make a new friend. Thirdly, bartenders and baristas working in local bars and coffee shops almost certainly know about places that are difficult to dig up on the Internet even with the most sophisticated search methods.

But more importantly, don’t limit your conversation to asking for references. Ask about the history of the institution in which you are now: who created it and when, is it the first point of the network.

Believe me, later on you will be very happy to tell your friends that five minutes from your house there is a “nice bar at a local brewery” or “a coffee shop with amazing pies”

Don’t be afraid to make new friends

No one knows the city better than the people who have been living in it for some time. Once you find a local bar, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with other patrons. And if you’re lucky and you’re moving to a city where you already have friends, contact them directly and ask for a list of their favorite places.

Among other things, there is an option for special extreme people: search in any social network for accounts of people (bloggers and non-bloggers) who live in the city where you are going, and write them in private messages.

Say that you want to learn about cool local places and “know” the city, to be “local” in it. In the worst case, they simply won’t answer you, in a good scenario, they will send you a list of personal favorite places, at best, they will invite you for a friendly walk-tour around the city (and this happens!).

Walk on non-obvious routes

Well, if you are already tired of searching the Internet, jump into comfortable shoes, wear weather-appropriate clothes and go for a mindful walk – without a plan, route and strategy. Just go wherever your eyes look and pay attention to the local infrastructure and signs of establishments.

Sometimes even a sleeping area can surprise you with a cozy and cute bakery, where you can find excellent coffee and delicious cinnamon rolls.

Basically, any exploration of the city comes down to a simple rule: be curious. Sometimes it may seem that it is better to spend two hours on the road than 40 minutes exploring the map of your area. But believe me, you will not regret if you choose the second option.

And most importantly – do not forget to share your findings with friends and on social networks. Perhaps it is you who will help someone else enjoy delicious food and great company.

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