Caravan Sonnet: 10 Tips For Exploring Your Own City

8/18/15

10 Tips For Exploring Your Own City

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... 

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!) 

69 comments:

  1. This is such a fun idea! I'll have to try this out!

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    1. Thank you so much Ariel for stopping by and for leaving a comment! I would love to hear what your thoughts are after you have explored your city!!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  2. I love doing these kinds of things! Exploring my own city is a great way to get my fill of adventure and feel like I'm traveling, without spending a ton of time or money. My favorite is to try a new restaurant or cafe.

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    1. I totally agree with you Brittany! Isn't it amazing how exploring our own city can fill us with adventure? I love trying new restaurants and cafe's too!! Thank you so much for stopping by and for leaving a comment!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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    1. Aww thank you so much Nina!! You are so sweet!! I hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday!!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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    1. Aww thank you so much Lexis for your sweet words and taking the time to comment!! I hope that you have a wonderful Wednesday! Thank you so much again for stopping by!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  5. I loved this post!! So many great ideas! I am always looking for new things to do in my city! I am definitely going to try these tips out!

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    1. Aww thank you Katie for your kind words!! I hope that these tips are helpful as you explore your city! Would love to hear how that goes!! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  7. I loved these 10 tips, especially from a girl who loves traveling and finding new, exciting things to do in her own town. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    www.topazandsapphire.com

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    1. Yea! So glad that you found these helpful!! :) Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  8. What great ideas! I've been living in Charlotte for about a year now but still feel as if I've experienced everything. After reading this, I don't think I have! Thank you for these :) Sending love from Blog Passion Project!

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    1. Yea! So thrilled that you found these tips and this post to be an encouragement to explore your town! :) Would love to hear what you discover about Charlotte!!
      :) Rebecca
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  9. Great tips!! I live in New York - about 30 minutes North of NYC so my options are pretty unlimited! I'll have to use your tips : ) Thanks!!
    xo Adriana - Daily Dose of Design

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    1. Oh my yes! You have lots of places to explore!! :) Would love to hear about your exploration and how things go for you!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a comment!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  10. What a great idea. Auckland here I come. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Auckland?!? Oh my goodness how absolutely fun!! Please share- would love to live vicariously through you! *smiles*

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  11. These are such great ideas! We can't afford to travel right now, but there are so many things in our city that we've never seen. It could be like we're on a vacation. Thank you for the suggestions!

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    1. Yea!! I love that about exploring your own city- it truly gives us an opportunity to go on a vacation without spending a ton of money! Would love to hear and read about your experiences when you blog about them! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing a comment!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  12. Love this! We're going exploring in our city this weekend, thanks for the tips.

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    1. How fun!! How did things go?!? Would love to hear!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  13. Such awesome tips. We need to be a lot better about this. We used to explore locally a lot, but ever since moving back to the city where I lived in high school, I haven't been as motivated to get out and explore. I guess I feel like I've already done everything a long time ago, even though that's really not true, there's so much that's new out there!

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    1. Aww thank you so much Rachel for stopping by and for your comment! I can totally relate to the fact of moving back to the city where you live in high school ad not feeling motivated to go out and explore. I hope that you find lovely new places to adventure to and maybe even old spots that are new to you in this season! Thanks again for taking the time to comment!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  14. i'm a New Yorker - first place i would guide tourists is the Empire State Building - and then Macy's Herald Square D

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    1. These sound like two great places! I have definitely explored the Empire State Building and Macy's square - I can't wait to see those places again later this week! Thanks for your thoughts and your comment and for stopping by!
      Blessings, Rebecca
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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  15. These are great ideas. I love to play tourist in not only my town but in my state. Kentucky has so much to offer! Locally I can just take a drive and enjoy the horse farms and the beautiful rivers and lakes. We have lots of history, great places for rock climbing and spelunking, and loads of lakes and fishing. And horses! I could go on and on. I love visiting other places but I don't have to be bored when I can't travel, that's for sure!

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  16. We recently moved to a little town and have enjoyed getting to know the surrounding areas. There is so much to find and know that it is amazing. We have a lot to offer for it being such a little town. Travel is fun but home is where the adventure can be found!

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  17. These are some great ideas! Unfortunately we live in rural Vermont, but my husband and I apply these tips to our state rather than our town. :)

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  18. Thanks for the reminder that there's a lot to do in our own town! My city definitely has a lot to offer, but I don't often make the time to take advantage of everything. We do visit the city parks quite a bit when the weather is nice.

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  19. Love this post! So many times we focus on what there is to do in other places..but totally forget about what's in our backyard! Thanks for the reminder!

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  20. Knowing your own city seems like so basic but we often don't do it! Great suggestions!

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  21. I love your ideas for exploring your own city as if you were a tourist! My very small town has a few attractions that I've never taken the time to explore. I think I will give your suggestions a try! There are also some larger cities within driving distance, and I'm sure they have lots of places and things to explore, but I never really thought about doing it. Thanks so much for sharing these tips!

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  22. Love this idea. Actually, I just learned it about a year ago--my friend called it a STAYCATION. I discovered a beautiful garden right in my backyard. Anderson's Japanese Gardens was only 20 minutes from my home. Not only spectacular scenary but multiple trails that led to different destinations. My first STAYCATION was fun.

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  23. Love these ideas! I'd like to do more exploring of our area with my kids now that they are a bit older and can appreciate it more so I'll have to revisit your site for ideas! Thanks for all the good tips!

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  24. These are great tips! Living in the town I was born and raised in, I thought I had experienced it all. This summer I went on a challenge to show my kids all the things to do in our little town. We had so much fun! Although, I think we definitely need to stay in a hotel!!! :)

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  25. What a neat post! As my children are growing older, and therefore its easier to be "adventurous" we are finding fun things to do locally that we'd overlooked for years. We recently took up kayaking as a family & hiking more often (again, now that everyone can carry their own gear is nice!) ~ and as a homeschooling family, its great to give my children the hands on lessons in history & science right here in our own town!

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  26. I enjoyed reading this post. We love staycations and often choose to stay home instead of traveling. I have a running list of things I want to try to do within 30 miles of us. There is so much to discover!

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  28. My husband, son, and I love to explore all around our state, but it's funny that there are places that we still haven't visited in our own backyard. We really need to fix that soon.

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  29. This is such a great idea! I'm from Chicago and my city is awesome. I always get so amazed when people get excited to hear that I'm from there. I'm aware that it's great but living here most my life, I don't see it the same rosy eyed way. I think I could benefit from just going out and experiencing my city. It would probably add a new level of appreciation for it.

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  30. We love to travel, but when we are home, we're homebodies! Now that fall is coming, I want to explore some of our local festivals!

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  31. Love, love, love this post! I have done, and often do everything on your list! I am not a traveler. Don't get me wrong I do travel now and then, but I have absolutely no desire to travel abroad. Just not my thing. My sister got that gene! We love to attend local events, picnic in parks, try wine tastings at the abundant wineries in our area, the list goes on and on! I love to take my readers alone on our local adventures and share photos on the blog whenever I can! Maureen.....redcottagechronicles.com

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  32. Yes! Too often we forget the activities and amenities of our home towns. I recently did a column in my local newspaper in which I reviewed restaurants. It really helped me to get a new perspective on my hometown.

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  33. I love your tips! I can't help but giggle thinking about exploring my town... one post office, one school (less than 50 kids from kindergarten -12th grade). population - less than 150, there are more cows on the one ranch behind our house than there are people and that's it for our little town in southeastern Montana. I'm a Georgia girl who grew up in Atlanta and lived outside of Athens (Go, Dawgs!) before moving here. Talk about a culture shock!

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  34. I recently moved to Atlanta and I definitely need to get out and explore. I agree the best way to learn and find new things is to become a tourist in my city.

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  35. Wonderful ideas! I live outside of Cincinnati and I forget that there is so much to do locally! I am going to give your tips a try and go out and see new things, thank you!

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    1. Yea!! SO happy that this was a helpful post for you Nicole!! Thank you so much for sharing and taking the time to leave a comment!! How fun that you live outside of Cinci! I went to college in a small town called Cedarville north of Cinci! :)
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  36. Great tips!!! I love the city I live in and never tire of exploring it, discovering new things about it, and having great adventures in it!!

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  37. Great ideas here! I've lived where we are for most of my life. I have to remind myself to be more adventurous and go explore the places I hear people talking about that I haven't been to yet. I love the idea of becoming a tourist in my own city [area]. Thanks!

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  38. Great tips. We've been living in our city for about 10 years and have only just begun exploring all the activities around the city. It's been a fun adventure and it helps to check out the city homepage to find various activities too.

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  39. Thank you so much for these great tips! I live in Minneapolis which is a city full of great outdoor activities, fantastic restaurants, and annual events- yet my husband and I rarely take the time to experience our great city. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  40. It's a great idea. Until recently a blogger called Unknown Mami would host a weekly meme called 'Sundays In My City' and it was very interesting to follow.

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    1. How fun! I never read those posts but what a great idea! I will have to look that up! Can't wait to check out that blog!! Thank you for stopping by, commenting, and sharing this with me!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  41. Great ideas for anyone living in a larger place. :) My hometown has 3000 people in it, so it's easy to explore!

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  42. Such a great idea! We just moved to a new town so exploring it is really like a vacation... we haven't seen any of it before! Unfortunately it's a really little town so there aren't as many options as in a big city. That's ok though!!

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    1. How fun that y'all just moved and are using this time to explore your new place! I love little towns (I live in one for 1/2 of the year :)) and I love the charm that they offer! Happy Exploring in your new place!!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  43. Wonderful ideas altogether. I like the idea of becoming a tourist in my city. I can easily get into that character and learn more stuff. This is easy awesome adventure

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  44. Very neat ideas! Thanks for sharing! Trudie

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  45. I absolutely love to travel. But many times in life we feel 'trapped' at home. Your ideas to get out and see what's in your own backyard are spot on! We have spend many days out and about, just enjoying the scenery around us.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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  46. Traveling is definitely a gift, and is one of my very favorite things. I love the idea of being a tourist in my own city (and there is always so much to do!) Thanks for sharing!

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  47. Great tips! Isn't it funny how we travel all over, but never truly explore the cities nearby where we live? It's nice to do a staycation every once in a while.

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  48. I absolutely love this. My husband and I just moved to a new city, and we have definitely become tourists in our own town! I think it's great to remember to do these things if you've lived somewhere for a long time, but I am excited to try these out in our new town! Great list!

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  49. I love to try out new restaurants and I'm always asking around for new recommendations! Such a fun way to try out new places :)

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    1. I love trying out new restaurants too! I find that it can be so easy to get "stuck" in a rut when you discover a favorite place to keep going back to the same place again and again. Trying a new restaurant is an easy and fun way to explore your city! Thanks for the comment and for the encouragement to keep branching out to try new things!!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  50. These are great tips! My husband and I are going to be having our 5th anniversary this December and we are definitely thinking about trying a local bed and breakfast :). I think it is HUGE to explore your own city to make sure you love it!

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    1. Thank you so much Autumn for stopping by and for leaving a comment! CONGRATS on your 5th year anniversary!! Would love to hear more about your adventures if you blog about it!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  51. I live in a city that has about 400,000 people so its not small but its not a metropolis. I have to admit, when asked, I am challenged to suggest what to do here but I'm going to take your post to heart and do some of these things. It will be fun I'm sure.

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