What the Tech? Welcome Travel App Finds Off-the-Beaten-Path Sites for You to Visit

Like many people, I don’t use a travel agent when I plan a trip somewhere. Between using Yelp, Google Travel, and suggestions from my Facebook friends, I’ve gotten pretty good at finding good restaurants and things to do when I get to a new city.

I also find myself going to all of the touristy locations. If you’re the type who’d rather find cool off-the-beaten-path kind of places I can suggest a smartphone app that will find those for you.

Welcome is a travel app that uses location awareness to find and recommend places that you might like, that are also nearby.

Using your phone’s location services, Welcome knows exactly where you are. So if you’re staying in a hotel in San Francisco, the app will search for and suggest places to go and things to do near your hotel.

I’ve used it several times and just tried it out again in San Francisco. Here’s what I found:

Opening the app, Welcome planned out my whole day by suggesting a neat little breakfast spot, an outdoor activity, a museum tour and then a nearby restaurant for lunch. It took into account how long it might take me to have breakfast and how long it will take to walk or ride to Lombard Street and how long I’d probably want to look at the crookedest street in America.

When I left there to eat a late lunch, Welcome recommended “Tony’s Pizza” in San Francisco’s Italian district. Before deciding to go there, I could look at the menu, read reviews from people who’ve eaten there.

Welcome ties into Google Travel so I get to read dozens of reviews from recent visitors. When we decided to give it a try, Welcome showed me step by step directions down the streets of San Francisco and showed Google images of what the place looks like from the street to make it easier to find.

After eating, Welcome suggested an Italian gelato place just a couple of blocks away. (Both the pizza and fig gelato were Excelente, by the way).

I also used it earlier this summer for a weekend trip to Baltimore and it helped me find two spots only the locals know about. The first was a small diner for breakfast and then later in the day a whole in the wall sushi bar. I’d never have discovered them on my own.

Welcome is a free app but only for the iPhone. The only downside at the moment is that it hasn’t been updated in over a year. That’s not to say the user reviews need updating because Welcome curates those from Google, but the app could use security updates.

On the Welcome app website, developers say a new and improved Welcome app is in the works and you can sign up for a Beta release.

I’m looking forward to an improved version but even the old version, the one you can use today, is my favorite travel app when I want to find something tourists often miss.

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