What would my main character order? Who would walk along this beach? Why is she at the library using the free wi-fi? How would she feel about that annoying stortytime singing in the corner? Wistful? Frustrated? Would she wonder why she gave up singing?
Sometimes of course you have to go out of your way to visit interesting places and spaces your characters might go to. In the novel I wrote for my NaNoWriMo this year one of the characters lived within walking distance of the famopus sydney pool pictured above and decided to swim there regularly. I don't think that novel will ever see the light of day but my family and I visited the pool this weekend. It's a really great pool and has a wonderful location so I can see myself including it in a future book. Research and life came together for a fun day out.
Some research is harder than others. I have been asked if Mr Right and Other Mongrels will have a sequel and I hope so. Honestly I think it requires a trip to L.A. for me to do 'reserach' because Allegra and Teddy were headed off to L.A at the end of the last book. It's twelve years since I was last in L.A so I don't think my memories or information on the town are accurate enough.
I think getting the research right is important. Visting as many locations as you can, tasting the food your characters eat so you can describe how their face might move and how they night feel or react if they eat something of a certain texture all adds to the story...oh yes and it makes life more interesting as well.