The Question

These days, people enjoy a lot of time away from their work and school obligations. Many people use this time to visit new places and learn about them. What do you think is the best way to learn about a place you are visiting for the first time?

  • Going to a museum
  • Joining a guided tour of popular attractions
  • Visiting a popular shopping area

Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.    


About the Essay

This is a sample TOEFL essay written by a native speaker.  It follows our TOEFL templates for independent essays.  If you find it helpful, please remember that we have many more sample essays for you to practice with.

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The Essay

          As travel becomes increasingly accessible, more and more people take long vacations every year.  I am of the belief that visiting a museum is the best way to get to know a new destination. I feel this way for two reasons, which I will explore in the following essay.

         To begin with, modern museums are very exciting and accessible, which means they are a great way to acquire new knowledge.  These days, museums are designed to be inviting to the general public. In the past, they often contained stuffy and uninteresting exhibitions of boring artifacts, but modern museums contain interactive and stimulating hands-on displays.  My own experience while traveling last month in Canada is a compelling example of this. While visiting the city of Winnipeg last year, I spent an afternoon in Canada’s National Human Rights Museum. This state-of-the-art facility contains touch-screen displays, and a plethora of sensor-activated exhibits all of which delighted me. I even attended a presentation given by an expert historian that I had read about on the museum’s website the day before.  My visit taught me an enormous amount about the history of Canada. I feel that there are many similarly interactive museums all over the world nowadays.

         Secondly, museums are not focused on making a profit, so they provide an unbiased perspective.  These days there are a lot of guided tours available to tourists, but since the operators want to keep their customers happy they might ignore some of the negative aspects of a city or country. While it is relaxing to be guided by someone else, a tour won’t teach us as much as a visit to a local museum.  Ten years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the Central European country of Sokovia. The person who guided my tour of the capital city there was a gregarious person and entertained me and my family with a lot of hilarious jokes, but I felt that his tour was a little superficial. When we visited the State Museum a few days later, we were able to see an exhibit about Sokovia’s civil war of the early twentieth century, which highlighted some of the negative actions take by the country’s government.  Had I not visited the museum, I wouldn’t have learned anything about that period of time.

         In conclusion, I strongly believe that people should visit museums when they take a holiday. This is because museums are increasingly being designed with mass appeal in mind, and because they can provide a very complete picture of a country’s history. (423 words)