How To Find The Coolest Activities On Vacation

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
So many factors go into making a trip successful, from the initial booking of the flights themselves to accommodations and the meals you plan to eat.

Flight logistics can fall out of your control — sadly, we're all at the mercy of the weather and air traffic control. Luckily, it's often the activities you do once you arrive that make or break a trip. And there are apps to ensure that you stay in control of what you do when you make it to your destination. Whether you're looking for the coolest local swimming spots in Austin, TX, or hoping to get a sense of the nightlife options in Chile, these apps put you in the driver's seat. And even if delays mean your original plans go kaput, you can still find something else fun on a last-minute whim.

Click through for nine apps that make it easy to build out your bucket list or fill in holes in your itinerary.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Finding tours and day trips.

The Triposo app lets you book hotels and hostels and find restaurants, but we love it for its activity search. In addition to identifying the typical popular attractions under its "See and Do" tab, the app also has ideas for great day trips, city walks (a free walking tour of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, perhaps?), and tours that you should book ahead. Plus, the app works offline, so you can easily find something to do nearby — even if you have trouble getting a signal.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Previewing attractions.

Viator's strengths lay in its booking options for tours and attractions. You can preview top sights with video previews, so you have a sense of whether or not they are worth your time. You can also download vouchers to your Passbook that will let you skip long lines. That way, you can fit more sightseeing in your agenda.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Finding nearby roadside attractions.

If your travels take you cross-country, Roadtrippers is a must. The "Discovery" tab lets you select from options like "Points of Interest," "Attractions & Culture," and "Outdoors & Recreation." Within those, you can further specify what you're looking for (historic locales, museums, or swimming spots, for example). The app pinpoints various nearby picks on a map, with ratings included, to help take your road trip or staycation to the next level.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Seeing the sights ahead of time.

Trover is the Instagram for travel. Search for a location or choose to look nearby: the app will show you photos that other travelers and locals have posted, revealing unique places to visit. The best part of Trover is that it helps you find well-known attractions in addition to more obscure sights, such as cool window displays.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Finding unique shopping experiences.

Everplaces lets you bookmark and share cool locations with friends, in addition to recommending places that others have posted about. The app is easy to look at, thanks to its clean typeface and pictures. While its strengths seem to lie in its dining listings, we also like that the app shows mostly independent shops and bookstores you should check out, rather than big chain stores.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
AFAR Travel Guide

Best for: Expertly curated to-do lists.

's travel app is a beautiful and very useful translation of the print magazine. We especially love the curated lists, which differ for every city and offer expert picks on where to soak up thing such as "Arabian Arts and Emirati Culture" in Abu Dhabi and "The Best of the Chilean Heartland" in Chile. Pick your country and go.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Getting a local's pick.

Sometimes, the locals know best. That's certainly the case with Localeur, an app entirely curated by locals. Let them guide you through Atlanta's hidden art scene or help you find awesome tattoo shops in Seattle.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.
The Outbound

Best for: Discovering outdoor adventures.

Heading off into the great outdoors? Whether you want to find a heart-pumping hike or a serene spot to swim, The Outbound has you covered. While you can write your own reviews or read what others have written, the app's best assets are its filters, which let you search by skill level as well as pet-friendly picks and romantic options. It's perfect if you need to find a group hike for friends with varying experience or one that ends with a dramatic vista.
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Photo: Courtesy Madeline Buxton.

Best for: Sharing memorable stories and experiences.

Findery is a travel storytelling app. Click on pictures that others have posted to read about their experiences at various locations and add your own on the map. You can also create your own travel bucket list, so that you won't forget places you're thinking of visiting when it's time to finally book your dream trip. An activity is all about the memories it creates. Findery is one of the few apps that really celebrates and personalizes those.

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