Traveling is a gift. Traveling somewhere new is a beautiful gift that you can give to the soul. Traveling and exploring your own town or city that you live in (or one nearby) is a gift that can change your life.
If you have been around this blog for a little bit then you know that I love to travel and be adventurous, but I have also learned in new ways to be content in this season where my health doesn't allow me to travel as much as I would like. Honestly, learning the reality of contentment in this season has been a hard but a beautiful lesson and has directly affected my thoughts of living life with adventure and also looking "closer to home" for new things to explore.
One of the beautiful things about the internet is that you can find so many lovely bloggers who travel to far and wide places. It is SO lovely to explore the world through their eyes, but at the same time I am also very inspired by those bloggers who not only travel but take the time to explore the world that they live in day to day. The bloggers who see all of their lives as a beautiful adventure and not just the times they travel great distances or to a new land. The bloggers who have the unique and wonderful ability to share with us their lives all around them. One of the most beautiful examples of this is Amanda's blog, Marshalls Abroad. Amanda has lived around the world and in each place has shared her gorgeous pictures of their adventures to new places but her love for the here and now. It is absolutely inspiring.
So today I wanted to share tips for exploring your own city and finding the joy and adventure that can be found in your own backyard. Maybe you don't have a ton of money to travel to far away places but you can explore the culture that is found in your beautiful area of the world. Maybe (like me) your health doesn't allow you to travel as much as you would like, but you can take a short car ride to see the beauty around you. Maybe you can't leave your job to travel far but you can spend a weekend traveling around your town. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to develop your wanderlust, I hope that this post will inspire you to explore right where you are!
Here are 10 tips for exploring your own city...
Here are 10 tips for exploring your own city...
1. Ask your Friends, Co-workers, Neighbors on where to go.
When I first returned to live with my parents I reconnected with some sweet high school friends who lived in town. One of the things that I asked them was about things that they loved to do in the area. Yes, I had spent half of my childhood in the city, but returning after 15 years of being away I wanted some fresh ideas of things to do and see as an adult. These ladies had sweet ideas that ranged from trips that would take about 15 minutes of travel to ones that would be weekend trips to places within a few hours of us.
You may have returned to a city (like I did) after being away for a while or you may have lived in the same place your whole life. Either way take the time to ask your friends, co-workers, and neighbors for ideas on what to see and do in your own city. You may be surprised with the answers that you discover!
2. Eat at Someplace New
This suggestion probably seems a little funny at first, but it is so easy to get into a "rut" of eating at the same place week after week or day after day. When we travel we are often forced to try new places and things to eat so why not do this in your own city? Check out your city and see what the local newspaper says is the best "hole in the wall restaurant"? Instead of eating at your favorite restaurant why not try a dinner cruise in your town? Think outside the box and explore your city by trying to eat something new or different just like you would if you had traveled somewhere new.
One thing that some friends and I did when we lived in DC was to try the "top 25 restaurants" that had been listed in the "Washingtonian". It was so fun to explore these restaurants that we may never have discovered otherwise! Check your local paper for new restaurants, their top picks, and "secret" hole in the wall locations! You may be surprised at what you find! Live in a bigger city and can't afford some of the pricier restaurants? Sign up for restaurant week!
3. Be a "Tourist" in Your Own Town
|picture found on internet|
A simple way to explore your own city is to pretend to be a tourist in your own town. What are the places and things to do that you recommend to others who visit your town? Think about the unique things that you may do with them and find out more about those places that might offer different or unique opportunities.
A great example of this is "Jazz on the Green" in DC. When I lived in DC so many of my friends and family who visited wanted to go to the National Gallery of Art. As a lady who loves art, the museum (and its gardens) is wonderful and I definitely recommend it, but the museum (like many museums) offers so much more than simply exploring their collections. One of the great things that the National Gallery of Art hosts is "Jazz on the Green" in the summer months (starting at the end of May). The event is free and hosts a ton of different artists throughout the summer. You can purchase food and drinks there and it makes for an enchanting evening in the summer.
What does your city offer that might be similar to this? Think like a tourist and check things out a little bit more in depth and you may be surprised at what you discover!
4. Go see a (different) Sports Event
Many people have "their teams" that they cheer for and sports teams that they religiously follow. But did you know that there might be a different sport that you may find you like just as much by trying it out? If you love football why not try and see something different in the Winter and Spring months? Be open to trying new things and you may discover a whole new side of your city!
5. Try Something Different in Your Hometown
Anyone that knows me knows that I loved growing up tubing and skiing on the lake during the summer months. Some people though have heard the humorous story of how wake boarding came to our family. For some reason we never did this growing up and I honestly am not sure why, but several years ago I was out in Washington state visiting a friend and his family took us boating on a nearby river. Their big thing was wakeboarding and were surprised that I had never tried it before. It was so much fun and it has been so fun to watch my sister doing it now also! For some reason though this has added a completely new aspect to the lake for us and I really am convinced that it is because it is something new. So my advice and encouragement is to take the time to try something new in your own city that you may only try if you were traveling somewhere else!
6. Try a Different Form of Transportation
It is so easy to use our cars to drive when you live in the city you are wanting to explore, but why not try exploring your city through a different form of transportation? Just like if you traveled abroad why not try using the metro system, riding bikes, or walking through your city? You may be surprised at what you discover simply from trying a different form of transportation.
Do you like to Hike or Bike in general? Why not make it a goal to try all of the different hiking or biking trails in your area? Or why not join a club that does the same thing? One of the things that I recommended to do as a summer activity on Lake Champlain if you love hiking is to join the "46ers" club. Who knows what your town or city may have to offer that is similar! You may meet new friends and have a great time exploring something completely new in your city!
7. Participate in the Local "Customs"
Is your city "known" for something? Many times people who live in a city that is known for something (politics, fashion week, military activities, natural wonders, etc.) don't end up attending these things. Whether it is because we live in that place and "are so used to it" or we just don't think of attending, many times the locals actually miss out on local customs. This is such a simple thing to change- simply investigate what your city is known for (or why people come to visit it!) and check out the things to do!
8. Stay at a Local Hotel, Inn, or Bed & Breakfast
A great way to explore your city and make you feel that you are on vacation is to stay at a local Hotel, Inn, or Bed & Breakfast. Having the opportunity to "get away" for an evening is something that can make you feel that you truly are on a vacation even if you are in your own city. (Don't have the finances to stay someplace? Some friends of mine had a perfect idea for this: swap houses with some other friends! It gives everyone a chance to go someplace new and feel like you are getting away!)
9. Walk around Downtown.
Many cities are giving life to their "downtown" areas with unique shops, local eateries, coffee shops, etc. Why not spend a day walking through the downtown and exploring your city? You may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover and learn!
10. Explore the Natural Resources around your City
I shared in February about discovering "the Hurricane Chapter" in the Adirondack Mountains and what a joy it was! It is amazing that despite the fact that I have spent nearly half of my life in this area of the United States that I was not aware of these beautiful mountains. What started out as a simple drive brought such beauty to my world and joy in discovery.
What land or natural beauty is around your city? Look on a map and see what natural resources surround your area! You may be surprised to discover areas that you have never explored or driven to! (Don't see anything new? Look up national parks, gardens, waterfalls, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. that are around your city! You are guaranteed to find something!!)
What are tips you have for exploring your own city? Never feel that this is second to exploring other areas of the world! Remember sweet friends, your beautiful life is the adventure and no matter how near or far you can physically go, you can make life FULL of adventure and joy right where you are at! (Want to read more on my thoughts on being adventurers? Check out this post HERE!)