Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

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*(Or surrounding areas… day trips are not just for the posh or parents trying to entertain little ones! )

Not that long ago I read Gloria Steinem’s autobiography My Life on the Road, in it she talks about a lot of different topics beyond just her life… however what resonated the most with me from that book was her talk about travel.  From the first page of her introduction Gloria Steinem states that the main reason she still has ‘hope and energy after all these years’, the reason she still has a brighter outlook and a passion for life is that she is a traveler.

“Taking to the road-by which I mean letting the road take you- – changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories-in short, out of our heads and into our hearts. It’s right up there with life threatening emergencies and truly mutual sex as a way of being fully alive in the present.”  -(Steinem xix)

I remember thinking well that’s easy for you to say when you have a job that affords you the ability to travel, or haven’t amassed student loan debt or aren’t tied to a hefty mortgage or whichever housing situation.

However she broaches that too.

“[I] encourage you to spend some time on the road, too. By that, I mean traveling—or even living for a few days where you are—in an on-the-road state of mind, not seeking out the familiar but staying open to whatever comes along. It can begin the moment you leave your door.” (Steinem xxi)

I know she talks about this more at length but ultimately what she speaks of is how important it is to get a little outside of your comfort zone to look around, both in a way of blissfully smelling the roses but also as a way of awareness… do you know the history of the town you live in, do you know all the different cultures that have taken route in your area? Search out new experiences and you might not have to travel more than an hour to do so!

Sometimes our reality is much like the little old bird woman in Disney’s original film, Mary Poppins. The people pass her every day as she says ‘feed the birds’ but they don’t see or hear her. It’s really a depressing thought, but we can change our focus, notice the beautiful leaves on the trees, learn what is around us and experience things without going far from home. (Some might even be walking distances away!)

But HOW?         

Well you could just take a drive and look around of course! But if you have very little time, and not much money for excursions you are going to want to do a little research… don’t worry I did the heavy lifting for you! Just go to any one of these sites below and put in your zipcode or state to find things that are local. Willing to travel farther? Then put in states/zipcodes in your surrounding area or widen the search radius to 50 miles or more!

 

No matter what your best bet is always to start within close proximity, maybe look at your town specifically or within a 5 to 10 mile radius. You’d be surprised at all the little places that are nearby (especially during the holidays and change of seasons). There may be seasonal events such town fairs/community days. I know of some areas that have sand castle contest days and kite flying contests. There are cities that have fall and winter bazaars.

Of course you can even go to Google (especially if you have location tracking on) and search “fun things near me” or “local festivals” or “local markets” or “local museums” etc.

So depending on what you are looking to do here are some resources:

General what’s in your area/things to do:

Tripadvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/  click on the tab “things to do!”

Groupon  https://www.groupon.com/local/things-to-do   (get some good deals whilst you “Travel”)

Fairs and Festivals https://www.fairsandfestivals.net/

Only in your state https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/

Great Museums http://greatmuseums.org/find_a_museum

 

See if your town, county, or state has a website with local goings on. Sometimes they will even have articles with information about new restaurants, and reviews of locations etc.

Check your local library, community center, or park system to see if they have any special activities, shows, or events (a little more on that below)

 

 

Going on a culinary adventure?? Here’s something for the Foodies:

Tripadvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/  (click on the tab “Restaurants”)

Yelp https://www.yelp.com/nearme/restaurants

Groupon  https://www.groupon.com/local/restaurants

Local Farm Markets  https://www.localfarmmarkets.org/

Road Food https://roadfood.com/   (Authentic Regional Eats)

Zomato https://www.zomato.com  (previously “Urbanspoon”, local eats)

Happy Cow https://www.happycow.net/  (local vegan/vegetarian restaurants)

Zagat  https://www.zagat.com/national  (they also have yearly books with restaurants listed)

Want something really unique ?? Off the beaten-path? Perhaps even ODD?! :

Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/  (there is also a really cool book)

Roadside America https://www.roadsideamerica.com/

Weird US http://www.weirdus.com/  (started from the magazine Weird NJ, that pointed out local oddities whether they be strange urban legend areas or road side attractions… they also have a book series with just about every state)

YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY/COMMUNITY CENTER:

Depending on your community your local library might have A LOT of activities and fun things for you to enjoy such as concerts, art exhibits, plays, book talks, author visits, movie showings and more. Check it out and see what they have!

As for library resources:

Local info: often times they will have bulletin boards that list local goings-on, they may have pamphlets/booklets from the local park systems and their activities, they may have resource links on their website even… some not all (I know my library system is too big to accommodate it) will even have check-out-able free passes to nearby museums!

Books: Also check out the books under the Dewey Decimal Numbers 914-919 are travel guides, 970s for local history (usually). There might be books on different hikes and trails, roadside Americana, museums, and more! Some libraries may even have a special collection section just on your town/county/state.

 

 

Want to do something but don’t know where to start? Pack a picnic lunch and hop in the car, travel until you find a park or a beach that you can sit and read or just enjoy the fresh air!

I’m sure there’s even more resources that I am missing, but hopefully some of this leads you to travel while at home.

 Happy Travels & YOU GOT THIS!

–Heather

 

 

 

Some extra resources/ideas:

http://money.com/money/5186719/travel-tourist-attraction-every-state/

https://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend

https://www.rd.com/advice/travel/bucket-list-ideas-50-states/

https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/grand-canyon-disney-world-wrigley-field-and-the-best-attractions-to-see-in-the-usa

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/to-do-in-america_n_4775300

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/best-small-town-restaurants-america

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