Going beyond Google Maps and Yelp to explore Philly

It is unbelievable how quickly technology develops for our convenience, making travel faster, cheaper, and more enjoyable. Think about it —  when was the last time you went somewhere and had to carry a map? iPhone and Android apps such as Google Maps, Opentable, Yelp, Uber, Lyft, and Expedia have made our travels significantly more efficient, putting all this information at our fingertips.

Out of every travel-enhancing app I have ever used, Citymapper is definitely the most informative, helping users to navigate major cities as efficiently as possible. Type in a starting point and a final destination, and Citymapper will compile all the different routes using public transportation (usually between 7 and 8), a car or cab, biking and walking. The app will then give a relatively accurate approximation of the time, distance, and even how many calories you would burn through each form of transportation. In my own Citymapper experience, I have rarely found inaccurate data or an estimate more than a few minutes off the approximated value.

Two weeks ago on a pleasant day in Philly, the thought of biking around the city was incredibly appealing. Through my exact location, Citymapper was able to determine the closest station for bike rentals (Bike Share), the number of bikes available at the respective station, as well as the closest bike parking station to my destination. Once I had finished exploring the city on the bike, I put in Swarthmore as my destination, and Citymapper proceeded to tell me the weather there. It seems that Citymapper is a transport app unlike any other, functioning on all forms of transportation, taking all instances into account such as weather, traffic, and road blocks. Available in 29 cities throughout the USA as well as internationally, Citymapper allows you to maximize your time exploring cities by recommending the most efficient and enjoyable travel methods.

With Swarthmore’s small student body, finding people who actually grew up in Philadelphia can prove challenging, especially when in need of a good recommendation. If suggestions from others do not seem appealing or you are looking for something more specific, Yelp is the way to go. Whatever you need —  from a shoe-repair shop to the closest frozen yogurt joint, Yelp will give you an overall customer star rating for each locale, the exact distance in miles, hours of operation, and customer reviews. Although Yelp can be used for almost anything, its most prominent use seems to be for dining services. For all of you foodies out there, Yelp will give you lists and categories of absolutely any type of cuisine: from the top 10 Mexican restaurants to the best cheap dinner options in Philadelphia. I definitely recommend exploring the latter, they all have amazing reviews and the ones I have tried have far exceeded expectations.

Again for the foodies, Eater should be permanently bookmarked for the duration of your time in the Philadelphia area. With articles such as ‘Epic Philly Sandwiches to Eat Before You Die’, ‘Philly Cheap Eats 2015’ and ‘The 38 Essential Philadelphia Restaurants,’ Eater features reviews and recommendations by some of Philly’s best critics. Currently my favorite app, Eater has a mapping option that will pull up a series of pinpoints around your location, specific to what you are looking for, whether that’s just a sandwich or the best french fries in the city

Last week when heading out for fall break, I found myself around 30th Street Station significantly earlier than I needed to be. It was around brunch time, and using Eater’s map of ‘The 13 Hottest Brunches in Philly,’ I found a highly recommended place in the area called ‘Tria Fitler Square’. Eater’s synopsis included a recommendation of brioche french toast with candied hazelnut butter which ended up being a gastronomical experience beyond my expectations. The convenience of the maps as well as the quality of recommendations from true Philadelphia natives will give you an experience far above par, with incredible restaurants that otherwise may have escaped your knowledge. Make the most of your time anywhere in Philadelphia with Citymapper and simultaneously satisfy your culinary cravings using Eater Philly. Download both of these apps and venture out into the city for an incredible outing!

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