You don’t always have to travel great distances to find your next adventure: in fact, you might find a staycation not only saves you money, but opens up a whole new world in your own back yard! Plus, you’ll have a whole new repertoire of things to do the next time you have houseguests eager to get to know your city and take home some fun memories of their own. Keep reading for a few tips on how to be a tourist in your hometown.
- First things first: Hit up your local tourism board or Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Yep, they’re the ones with the tourism maps and guidebooks, not to mention websites that can be chock-full of fun information designed for tourists. Many of them have a rack with a ton of brochures touting local tours and attractions—take a few minutes to browse around, you might be surprised at what you’ll find. Which leads us to…
- Take a tour. We recommend looking for something out of the ordinary, for example, from March through mid-November, Austin’s Congress Avenue bridge bats create quite the spectacle, spurring companies to organize bat-watching tours at sunset. Or if you’re in New York, opt for something funky like a Hip Hop Tour, led by celebrity emcees, graffiti artists and B-boys through Harlem, the Bronx and Brooklyn. And don’t discount “touristy” attractions—seeing them with a guide will give you a whole new perspective on something you may have been taking for granted.
- Book a hotel room for a night (or two). Chat with your tourism board rep or—why not?—hop on social media and ask for recommendations for interesting hotels in your area. Think historic property (ghost encounters, anyone?) or perhaps an up-and-coming boutique property that’s been making headlines. Pro tip: Some hotels offer specials for locals in the off season. For example, Arizona residents can find some screamin’ deals in area hotels during the summertime, when it’s triple digits and a hotel pool can really make a difference!
- Break out the real camera. Or don’t and just take along a portable charger for your phone! It might sound a little cheesy, but when was the last time you took a picture of yourself in front of your town’s most famous landmark? Jump on Instagram or Pinterest and find out what your town’s popular hashtags are and prepare to be inspired.
- Go to local events. Art walks, food truck events, outdoor festivals, concerts… Look online or pick up the local Sunday paper (if it’s still around), you’ll be sure to find something you’ll enjoy. Take advantage of sunny weather for a visit to the zoo, or if it’s cold and rainy, hide out in a local museum and get to know your local history (oh, and galleries are also great for cold, blustery days).
- Say hi! Whether you’re nursing a cup of coffee at your local coffee shop (you may want to trade your Starbucks for something more “mom and pop”) or checking out the latest art installation (see above for number 5), don’t be shy and start up a conversation. You may find communicating with fellow humans quite a refreshing change from communing with your smartphone screen—and you never know whom you might meet!
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