This blog post was updated on November 2, 2018.
Over the past week and a half, I have been playing tourist in my own home.
As a local, I think we tend to forget the attractions and reasons to get out and explore where we live each day. We too often forget that great sightseeing doesn’t always start with browsing flights to New York.
A recent visit by a friend from out of town convinced me to play tourist for several days, even though I shun the notion that I could possibly be like those out-of-towners in my home state.
If you have trouble entertaining out of town guests or your just fail to explore your own backyard enough, here are a few pointers on how to be the best local tourist you can be.
Try Restaurants You Have Never Been—When a friend from out of town comes to town, your first instinct might be to take them to your favorite restaurant. However you are not being a good local tourist when you too don’t try something new. It is like going to a chain restaurant when you travel, one you have back home. Find a place you have never tried in your city and take your visitor there instead. You might be disappointed by the food when it doesn’t turn out how you expected, but you are trying something new in your own town rather than falling into routine.
Don’t Scoff at Tourist Attractions—My out of town guest wanted to go to the zoo. I scoffed at the idea and we never went. In retrospect, I wish I were more open. Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, there are so many things to see and do in your hometown you shouldn’t knock until you try them out. Being too cool for certain attractions in your city can backfire on you, especially when there is an interesting exhibit at the local art museum you never frequent. Some of those attractions that are seemingly just for the tourists are missed opportunities for the local.
Do Something You Haven’t Experienced Since Childhood—There are plenty of spots in my home state I visited at such young ages I barely remember them. If you have an out of town visitor, this is the time to go back in time. Take a drive into the mountains or head for a beach you built sandcastles on at 4. Revisiting those first childhood memories of travel, even if it was only an hour away, might open up your mind on where you live. There is much to see, even if you have already seen it many years ago. The second visit is always a different experience in these revisited places.
Go To A Game—I often get sucked into watching baseball on TV. I like to see the strike zone clearly and hear the back-story on players. Your hometown probably has a sporting venue of some kind, a place where you can go root for your home team. A visitor from out of town lends the perfect excuse to get off of that couch and go see a game in the flesh. There is no greater energy than watching an umpire receive boos from 40,000 fans for a bad call. Hometown pride is present at sporting events, giving you new perspective on your town and your visitor a taste of local spirit.
Flickr: Ed Yourdon
Have you played tourist in your own town?