Playing Tourist in Your Own Town

With escalating gas prices and perhaps an increasing desire to watch the budget and stay a bit closer to home, there’s a great option available to those who want to have a sense of adventure without traveling very far: playing ‘tourist’ in your own town.

Even if you do have glamorous travel plans on the radar for the year ahead, playing tourist in your own town offers a chance to have some fun and see your usual surroundings in a brand new way. All it takes is the intention to do it, and a sense of fun and adventure.

Almost every locality has certain facets that make it unique: the natural environment, historical sites, tourist attractions, walking trails, hometown diners, architecture, or quirky local treasures. When you decide to play tourist in your own town, you set out to discover some of the things that you might otherwise take for granted.

Here in San Francisco, for example, most locals avoid the tourist attractions such as Fisherman’s Wharf or China Town. And there are areas of the city that even long-time residents aren’t familiar with. On a ‘tourist in your own town’ day, I might hop on public transportation and wander the Wharf on a sunny afternoon, or simply decide to take a walking tour of one of the City’s many neighborhoods. A friend of mine has enjoyed a series of day trips visiting some of the City’s many ‘hidden parks,’ while another organizes her trips around food and historical architecture.

No matter what the size or location of your hometown, there are aspects of its history, geography, or personality that you’re not aware of, if only because they’re outside of your daily routine.

Try setting aside a day every once in awhile to learn more about the lesser known facets, or experience familiar ones in a new way. You’ll not only gain a greater appreciation for the place that you live, but you’ll enjoy yourself as well!

Simple Guidelines for Playing ‘Tourist in Your Own Town’

To prepare for your day ‘trips’, collect information by contacting:
* The local visitor’s bureau or chamber of commerce and ask for the information they provide to prospective visitors or those considering relocation.
* Your town or county historian or historical society to learn about historical sites that might make a good day tour.
* Your local Nature buffs, to learn more about hidden natural assets in and around your town. (If you don’t know who these are, try calling the Chamber, the newspaper, or one of the local churches!)
* Consider organizing your ‘tourist day trips’ by category: Nature, history, tourist attractions, food, art, walking tours, neighborhoods, etc.

While playing tourist in your own town:

* Have a sense of fun and adventure – keep an open mind!
* If you usually drive, try walking, biking, and/or taking public transportation.
* If you usually avoid visiting tourist areas in your city, pretend you’re a tourist.
* Venture into places that are outside of your routine – different restaurants or routes.
* Have the same sense of alertness that you would normally have, or that you would have if you were really a tourist exploring new areas. Common sense goes a long way, even in your own home town!

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