When in a new city, VIA readers get their bearings with AAA maps and TourBook guides and at the visitors bureau. Here are a few other tricks.
"Find the highest point to get an aerial view," says Martha Tomeo of Denali Park, Alaska.
"Local history museums often host free city tours," writes Bryan Otake of Dublin, Calif
"Small-town events all get listed at the post office," says Kerry Smith of Springdale, Utah.
"Go to a café that makes pie," says Kate Hasterlik of Missoula, Mont., "and ask for local tips."
"Hairdressers know everything and everyone," writes Doug Keil of Incline Village, Nev.
"Talk to seasoned old-timers at a breakfast joint," says Richard Fox of Emeryville, Calif.
What big travel mistake have you learned to avoid? Email firstname.lastname@example.org . If we quote you, we'll send you $25 and a VIA T-shirt.
Illustration by Michael Klein 
This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.