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The Walking Tour App That Will Change Your Perspective

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Explore neighborhoods in San Francisco with Detour, a new audio walking tour app. Photo by runner 310/Flickr

Update 6/11/2015: Detour Goes Global

Remember how we said that Detour, the immersive walking tour app, would soon be expanding their coverage beyond San Francisco? Well, that day has come!

As founder Andrew Mason explained in a blog post today, Detour now offers tours in New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Marrakesh, as well as their native San Francisco. That brings the total to 21 Detours across eight world cities. And this is just a first taste of what’s to come: The real expansion begins next year.

This is exciting news, and we can’t wait to see where Detour heads next. Click through to the post to learn more about these new tours. And if you aren’t sure what Detour is—shame on you!—then you’d better get reading, below.

We’re stoked to share the news: After a six-month private beta, our friends at Detour have released their immersive walking tour app to the iOS app store.

For those that don’t know, Detour is Groupon founder Andrew Mason’s latest project: an app that acts as a platform for, in their words, “gorgeous audio walks that reveal hidden stories, people and places at every turn.”

The tours are all currently of neighborhoods in San Francisco—though there are plans to expand later in the year—and cover areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Western Addition, and the Marina.

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Here at AFAR we’ve been lucky enough to try some of the Detours, and they are much more than merely a check-box jaunt around bucket-list neighborhoods: Each Detour follows a theme, bringing the area’s history to life and its daily existence into focus through a combination of precise directions, smart narration—by a journalist, an author, or even a philosopher—and sound bites from locals.

So you can, for example, learn about Fisherman’s Wharf from the perspective of a commercial fisherman, see where Jim Jones founded the notorious Peoples Temple cult, explore the bars and bookshops that inspired the Beat Generation, or traverse 25,000 years of human history over the course of just a few San Francisco blocks.

The tours are a genuinely immersive and unexpected experience, as you dive deep beneath the surface of the city without having to bury yourself in the pages of a guidebook. With the ability to sync the same Detour between different devices, you can even take the tour as part of a group.

Most exciting of all, by putting the everyday environment into a wider context whilst simultaneously surfacing smaller, more esoteric details, the Detours are as enjoyable and eye-opening for locals as they are for tourists.

The app is free to download, and you pay for each tour you want access to. This blog post explains more about Detour’s pricing and future plans.

Download the app here, and we’ll see you on the street!

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