As an avid traveler I am always searching online for new places to visit. As I'm planning my next trip (Austin, TX) I am noticing a common theme that every site/service I use I am finding the same (or very similar info). The same hotel, restaurants, popular things to do, etc. Does anyone else notice this? Any suggestions on getting around this problem?
It's called targeting your audience. Most travel articles focus on the popular things that most people want to experience at a particular destination. If you don't want that, or if you're tastes are different than most, then you'll have to make the extra effort to search for things that suit your interests. The Internet makes this easier than it used to be.
But most people don't want to make the effort. They simply want to follow what's in the guides. They prefer not to think outside the box.
We all have personal preferences. So sometimes a guide, or a fellow traveler, will tell you that a place is not worth visiting. My recommendation: Go see for yourself. Your opinion might be different.
When you are doing your research just because "popular things to see and do" or hotels come up doesn't mean they are not worthwhile. If not driving yourself nail your transportation down, know how much money you have for hotel expenses and other spending and find a hotel convenient for your preferences.
If you are driving yourself you may pass by hotels or motels you can stay at. Same for restaurants, see something you like - stop in!
You are free to wander around exploring on your own or follow the same trail thousands of others have taken. For me it is no problem weeding out suggestions I get from what I need.
However, many people do need guidance and appreciate having some suggestions to look over. Especially when time is short and trial and error may not be best use of time available.
Up to you.
We use Airbnb a lot when we travel, rather than staying in hotels, and one of our primary reasons for doing so is that, by staying with someone local, you can get ideas from them about some less usual places to visit or things to do. However, I wouldn't just rule out all of the popular things, as they are often popular for a reason.
Having a plan and fixed ideas can limit your experience from the outset. As you are an avid traveller already (and therefore perhaps more ready to face uncertainty when overseas), I would suggest that you try arriving at a new destination with ideas rather than any kind of plan. Mingle with locals straight away (couchsurfing, airbnb, general chatting on the street). Develop your plan as you go, based on the ideas you have and the new information you receive from locals.
You could go further and ditch the ideas altogether and arrive at your location knowing absolutely nothing. I am cycling around the world and I have become comfortable with knowing absolutely nothing about what each day might hold for me, even if on that day I have arrived in new country. I don't carry a guide book, I don't have proper map, I don't know how far I can ride or where I will sleep. This has opened up many exciting doors for me, leading to experiences that would be impossible if I had a plan or even preconceived ideas about the place I am in. Experiences like being invited into people's homes, joining a random road trip on a whim with a bunch of locals, getting shown secret fishing/swimming spots etc etc etc...the experiences are becoming endless. And they are all unique.
I think it is because they are trying to push you to "touristy" places that co operates with them. I hate when it happens!