When you think of traveling, chances are you think of far-off destinations, exotic locales, and maybe even dealing with the jet lag of being in a vastly different time zone. And while those sorts of trips are a total blast, be honest: how often do you get to take them? Probably not nearly as often as you’d like. That’s why I’m a huge fan of learning how to be a tourist in your own city!
There’s no reason that getting into that travel mindset has to mean going far from home. With all the ideas for ways to be a tourist in your own town provided in this guide, you’ll be more than ready to have an adventure right in your own backyard!
How to Be a Tourist in Your Own City
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1. Do your research
In order to figure out the best ways to be a tourist in your own town, you’ll need to do a little research. Finding info on where you should go, what you should eat, and what you have to check out may seem obvious at first, but without scoping out some resources you might miss some of your own hometown classics.
If you’re wondering ‘how can I explore my city?’ try at least one of these tips for gathering info:
Head to a Welcome Center
You can also find tourism pamphlets in most hotel and motel lobbies. Don’t be afraid to ask the concierge or front desk person for their own recommendations too, they’re accustomed to doling out local tips on the regular!
Get a Guidebook for Your City
I know it might sound crazy to get a guidebook for your own city, but trust me, they’re a treasure trove of hot tourist spots and highly-revered restaurants, bars, and more. Amazon has tons of guidebooks, or check your local library, they’re bound to have a few local guidebooks that you can borrow instead of buying.
Call your Local Tourism Board (or check out their website)
This is a great way to find local destinations that offer discounts to locals. Score! Plus, tourism boards usually have the most up-to-date information on special events. Check out their online calendar to learn about what’s coming to your hometown in the next few weeks.
2. See your city through fresh eyes
While hitting up the official resources is a great way to first figure out how to be a tourist in your own city, you may also want to take a more unique or personalized approach.
If you want to see what your city looks like through someone else’s perspective, here are a few ways to get a whole new take on the place you call home:
Phone a Friend
Ask someone you know to show you around to the spots they show visiting friends and family. You’re bound to discover a new favorite restaurant you didn’t even know existed in your neighborhood, or stroll through a museum you’ve never taken the time to check out!
Trust an Influencer
With the wide array of travel blogs on the internet today, it’s not hard to find a customized itinerary recommended by a travel blogger who’s been to your hometown. Find one that offers unique recommendations and give it a try.
Pssst, you can also check out these city guides by yours truly:
Switch up Your Ride
Used to driving around town? Try walking or biking everywhere instead, and you’ll discover all the little shops and spots that you normally whiz by without a second thought. Or, up the ante with a segway tour, bike tour, or even a helicopter ride over your city!
Test out different digs
If you’re looking for ways to be a tourist in your own town, why not do what real tourists would do and book somewhere to stay? Find a cool/unique AirBnB or hotel right in the heart of the action and see how it feels to live in the middle of all that’s going on in your hometown rather than the residential areas where most of us live.
Or give your own home an upgrade, here’s How to Make Your Home Feel Like a 5-Star Hotel.
3. How to be a Tourist in Your Own City? Go Where the Tourists Go!
We all know those spots: the restaurant that requires reservations weeks in advance, the museums we haven’t been to since we were kids, the landmarks we heard about in history class growing up but never actually bothered to check out. Well, now’s your chance!
Here are some of the most common tourist hot spots that exist in nearly every city. Which ones are in your town that you haven’t been to in a while or maybe, ever? Well, the time has come to get out there!
Explore a museum
Most cities have an art museum or two, and if you’re lucky, there’s probably one on local history as well. Immerse yourself in the local culture at whatever museums you can find. Even better? Many offer self-guided audio tours, as well as special events on weekend evenings.
Get some grub
Whether it’s the fanciest restaurant in town or the one that’s most famous for selling your hometown’s local delicacy, there’s at least one restaurant in your town that all the tourists hit up. Bonus points for getting the most raved-about menu item!
Snap a selfie
You know what I’m talking about: the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Gum Wall in Seattle. The Welcome to Austin, Texas mural. Whatever hot spot in your town has all the tourists snapping Instagram pics, it’s time to join them!
4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
It’s time to go al fresco on this tourist adventure. No matter where you’re from, there are plenty of cool things to do in the great outdoors (here’s an awesome list for Austin, TX) where you live, whether that means wandering through the city at sunrise or taking a day trip to the most popular hiking destination near your town.
If you’re ready for some fresh air, consider these ideas for how to be a tourist in your own city:
Have a day at the park
City parks are one of the best ways to enjoy all the sights, sounds, smells, and people-watching your town has to offer. My #1 tip? Pack a picnic (this is the perfect picnic basket) and some games to make an event of it. Finger sandwiches and cheese boards always work great on the go, and don’t be afraid to toss the frisbee or kick around a soccer ball!
Take it to the roof
If the weather is nice enough, hit up a rooftop bar or restaurant. This is a great way to simultaneously enjoy a great meal or drink AND a killer view of the place you call home.
Go to a game
There’s no better way to get involved in some hometown spirit than to go to a local sports game! If your city is home to a major league team, that’s always an option, but it’s always super fun to check out a minor league game, too.
Head out on an adventure
If there’s a popular mountain biking trail or ski resort nearby that you’ve been dying to check out, now’s the time! Tourists to any city often take day trips, so there’s no reason you can’t either when looking for ways to be a tourist in your own town!
Traveling doesn’t always have to mean going far from home. With these tips, you’ll be feeling like a tourist in your own city in no time! What’s your favorite way to live the tourist life in your hometown? Drop a comment to let me know or send me a DM on Instagram!
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