Spotted by LocalsFor some reason when I hear it’s going to cost me $3.99 to download a guidebook on my phone, I think “pass.” But that’s silly, especially since I used to regularly spend about $15 for a good guidebook to read on the plane. That’s why we’re featuring Spotted by Locals this week. Around since 2008, Spotted by Locals is a network of blogs and apps by volunteer locals in 71 cities around the world. These volunteers write tips based on their favorite spots. The New York Times recently wrote a glowing review about how they like the tips.

The company has just launched a new app, which it describes like this: “This app costs $3.99 per city (67 major cities are available worldwide), while the others are, for the most part, free. But you get what you pay for: this was the most well-rounded of the three I tried. One of its many perks is that it runs entirely offline, so you do not need to stress about data usage. Like all of these apps, Spotted by Locals provides recommendations submitted by actual local residents on where to eat, shop, be entertained and more. The idea is to keep you away from tourist traps and steer you toward hidden gems. I used it to explore a neighborhood where I used to be a local (Astoria, Queens) to see if it could deliver. The fact that it included a wide assortment of suggestions in a borough not named Manhattan was impressive enough, compared to the other apps I tested, but the recommendations themselves were also spot on. For example, Astoria’s popular Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden was rightfully featured, but so was SingleCut Brewery, a lesser-known, but worthwhile, beer spot. The advice for each location is the perfect length — detailed but not overwhelming, and the ‘Nearby’ tab on the map makes it easy to scope out places wherever you are.”

Each city’s guide costs $3.99, but included in that cost is offline functionality. That means that you don’t need a data connection to use a guide while traveling. It’s also created by real locals (Spotters) that live in the cities they write about, speak the local languages, write only about their favorite spots, and keep their tips up-to-date. Founders Sanne & Bart meet all Spotters in person. Currently there are 425 city-loving Spotters at their favorite spots around the world. Spotters meet each other regularly, including at the bi-yearly Spotters weekend.

Have you used Spotted by Locals? I just downloaded a guide for NYC and it looks spot-on. What other guide app do you like?


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