Design*Sponge City Guides
This is always my first stop. The guides are handy lists of design-y shops, restaurants, and neighborhoods, written by local bloggers or otherwise design-minded folks. I've used these for trips to San Francisco, Austin, Palm Springs, Rome, and Florence, and they always have great recommendations. Since they're written by locals, they send you to some great non-touristy places. One caveat: they update these sporadically, so you may want to confirm that places you’re planning to visit are still open.
This site has a devoted following of some very, very serious foodies, but is a great place to figure out restaurant recommendations, even if you’re not all that into food. The searchable message boards are really helpful: you can search for itineraries from others who have gone on similar trips to you and check out all of the feedback from other diners, or you can post questions yourself. I’ve used this for everything from planning a trip to Napa to my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party in Northern Virginia.
How do you get ready for a trip? Do you fly by the seat of your pants and just ask local folks for help, or do you find guidebooks more helpful? A lot of people use Twitter to gather recommendations for places that they're visiting, but I haven't given that a go yet. What about you?
(All images via eye poetry)