How many times do we pass over our city’s main tourist attractions just because it’s the “touristy” thing to do? I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have never been to Alcatraz Island, yet somehow most of my southern California friends and their families have taken the tour. It’s not for lack of wanting to go, I just figure it’s so close, it’s something I can “do anytime.”
What do I do instead when I find myself with a day to wander around my old stomping grounds? I walk the same road down Embarcadero, eat at the bread bowl spot (and order the same thing), enjoy the sites at Pier 39 the way I have been since I can remember, and if I’m feeling adventurous head over to Golden Gate Park, a touristy forest I’ve been to time and time again.
This summer, plan a day to be a tourist in your town. It’s much cheaper than a weekend getaway and maybe even more than a distract and de-stress weekend. Experiencing your city through the new eyes will let you see your home in a new light, let you appreciate sights you may take for granted, and allow you relax and unwind just like you would on a vacation day. Don’t know where to begin? Follow these steps:
1. Brainstorm Points of Interest.
Imagine you have a friend in town from England. She’s here for one day. Where do you take her? Pick a few spots that are the best representation of your city. Think of the things you’d want to see if you were in her shoes. If you need inspiration check Trip Advisor, Trip Buzz, or Yelp!
2. Learn about your town’s local history.
Check out your city’s Wikipedia page and read up on the local history and then create your own walking tour. You may have forgotten your city has a history, and it’s probably pretty interesting. A self-guided tour through your city’s past will make you feel like tourists in your town and open your eyes to the charm of your community you may have forgotten.
3. Put on your “tourist cap” and avoid your favorite spots.
Museums and national parks are often first on the list of must-do’s when on vacation, but never in our hometown! Wander through a local museum or explore the closest regional park. Avoid the temptation to go to your favorite restaurant and venture somewhere new. Maybe there’s a tiny Italian restaurant you’ve never gotten around to trying, or maybe there’s a hole in the wall sandwich shop that always has a line out the door. Go to a trendy bakery or a gourmet chocolate shop. Treat this day like a break from reality.
4. Shop at your local thrift stores.
Thrifting opens doors for unusual and unique finds. Try to find a store you haven’t been to, or go to one that’s always been just a little too out of the way. You might find something awesome.
5. Avoid expectations, relax and go with the flow.
Treat this day like you would if you were in a new city. Be open to places you usually avoid because they’re crowded or off the beaten path, and above all embrace the day as it happens!
Photo credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr
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