Feeling bored where you live? Time to learn how to be a tourist in your own city with these 8 tips! Get out and go exploring.
Sometimes I find myself wondering what I should do with a free Saturday or what there is to do on a rainy evening. Every city has a lot more than meets the eye, but it’s not uncommon to feel bored or uneducated with everything in a city — especially when you live there and have your own routine!
When I moved back to Charlotte, so much had changed since the last time I lived here. It’s been like discovering a whole new city. I’ve definitely had to play tourist here a lot. I won’t lie to you — that feels so weird, especially since I grew up here. But if you want to become an expert at all the hotspots your city, that’s exactly what you have to do! I am pulling together just for you my best tips for how to be a tourist in your own city. // susannah
1. Do some research.
Head to your local bookstore and pick up a tour guide to your city. Read the paper or check out local blogs to find new spots.
My Hidden Gems series is a place to start, but you can also look up something like ‘Charlotte travel guide’ on Pinterest and see what comes up. Also, check out these tips for using Instagram as a travel guide.
Make a list of all the places you’ve never checked out and rank them. Pick out a few to hit up in one day. Set aside some time to explore and get a group together, head out on your own or go with a friend.
(Hint: If you don’t go stag, I recommend picking a spot that no one in your group has explored. It’s not as fun when other people in your group have already been there before!)
2. Visit museums and attractions.
Touristy spots are not just for tourists. Take yourself to that Andy Warhol exhibit at your local art museum or spend a day exploring science or history.
You might also consider something super touristy, like a haunted house Segway tour or an afternoon at your city’s most famous attraction, especially if you’ve never been.
Either way, you’re bound to find something new to love. (I’m still trying to talk myself into stopping by Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame…)
3. Try new-to-you restaurants.
Head back to those travel guides above to see what you can find. Some cities have a restaurant week once or twice a year, which is a great time to try fancy restaurants on the cheap. Sometimes you can even find a great Groupon for a place you haven’t tried.
And don’t underestimate the power of Yelp to help you find a gem you would otherwise overlook. My brother took me to this hole-in-the-wall place near his house in D.C. with 4.5 stars on Yelp and it is still hands down the best (Peruvian) chicken I’ve ever tasted. I would have never gone in there otherwise!
4. Join a meet-up group.
Find a group on Facebook or Meetup that picks a new spot to get together every time they meet. It’s a good way to meet new people and try new venues at the same time. Win-win!
5. Take lots of pictures.
Take your camera (or smartphone!) for a ride. Head to a part of town you’re not as familiar with or look up some weird photo-ops in your city. (I’m a big fan of the Atlas Obscura, which has all kinds of strange places you can discover near you!)
Instameets are also a fun way to explore hidden parts of your city with people who like to take pictures and meet new people. Plus, you’ll wind up with a bajillion things to Instagram.
6. Do something you wouldn’t normally do.
Get some friends together to take a class or go bowling. You could even hit up you area’s best antique and thrift shops or go to a hip-hop dance club just to try something new.
Being spontaneous and open-minded is the best way to have a good time and experience some new spots in your town.
7. Go geocaching!
Geocaching doesn’t get enough credit. People think it’s for nerds only, but it’s actually quite awesome. Use your smartphone or a GPS to find caches (AKA mini-treasures!) around your city.
These treasure hunts are usually more for the adventure than the treasure, but you might find a buck or two. Bonus points if you leave a surprise for the person who comes after you.
8. Find a new way to travel.
Sometimes it’s nice to mix things up. If you usually travel by car, maybe you should explore an area by foot or by bike.