I've barely gotten in the door from Austin and set my bags down and I'm already forming a diabolical plan to get myself to another city and another media convention. This time it's the 26th Annual Associated Collegiate Press National College Journalism Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, February 25-28, 2010.
Of course, I'm obligated to do some research of my own. Like figuring out the 15 Best Things to Do In Phoenix. Even after my research, I basically wandered around Austin without any real plan or purpose (except to find cowboy boots and BBQ), but having a few things to base the exploration on definitely helped.
Rockstar Alice Cooper is from Phoenix, and has a restaurant there I'm dying to visit.
From a journalistic standpoint, I find it helpful to look into local media: newspapers and magazines, mostly.
To get the flavor of any new place, combine three simple ingredients: time management skills, a map and an open mind. You'll find all sorts of wild, fun, unique stuff to do.
And it never hurts to find out about points of interest: festivals, historical sites, and things like restaurants, nightlife, art, music, and special attractions are all good to know about and can help max out even a few days in a new city.
And, of course, logistics: having some idea of a city's public transportation, what parts of town to avoid, and local traffic tips will benefit you in the long run.