Anyone who knows me, or spends much time around me, knows that I have a living, breathing, constantly growing Bucket List. And, with only two exceptions, my wish list takes me far from home … Europe, Asia, etc. And even the two adventures that beckon closer to home, are still quite a distance and will require a lot of advanced planning, saving and packing.
But let’s face it: we can’t always feed our hunger for adventure by traveling off to new destinations around the world! So maybe it’s a good idea to think of things you can do right in (or near) your own hometown!
As a child, and a young parent, we would hop in the car on a Saturday morning and start driving. No matter where we ended up, we would find a great adventure. We didn’t have to pack, plan, or spend a lot of money. We had a great time together as a family and saw a lot of country, attended many festivals, and shared quite a few humorous adventures. Let’s see if I can help you look at your hometown through the eyes of a traveler – to help you see home in a new light!
1. Take a tour of your home city – now, I confess: I happen to live in the perfect city to explore (St. Augustine, FL). It’s the oldest, continually inhabited city in the United States. So, there are a LOT of tours available for exploration! But every city has its’ own history, its’ own culture, its’ own attractions. Do some research and take a weekend to explore by taking a local tour. It could be a trolley ride, a winery, a boat cruise around your local waterway – whatever is available, look at your town as though seeing it for the first time. I guarantee you’ll find something new! I happen to be a real history buff, so checking out the history of ANY city absolutely fascinates me! Or maybe you’re really into the Arts – check out a local museum or see if there’s an Art Fair on the calendar. The possibilities are endless!
2. Get a room – if you live in the suburbs of a large city, consider getting a hotel in the city and explore downtown. If you live in the city, try getting a bed and breakfast out in the country. Just escaping home for a night will be a great adventure; but I suspect you’ll find a lot of other attractions that will catch your attention!
3. Make a date with your city – how many interesting places do you pass every day on your way to work, or school, or even the grocery store, and you think: one day, I’m going to take the time to go explore that place. Living in such a historical city, there are dozens of things I pass daily (multiple breweries, the Old Jail, the Chocolate Factory, the Fort, etcetera, etcetera!). But “one day” just never seems to come. And it never will unless you make a date, put it on your calendar, and attack it like a great explorer!
4. Act like a tourist – in all likelihood, people come to your city on their vacation. What do they come to see? What attractions would be on your “must see” list if you were visiting your hometown on vacation? Check the newspaper or upcoming events online to see what’s happening this weekend. When we lived in New Orleans, we would circle upcoming festivals in the newspaper and that would be our weekend adventure. You’d be surprised at the wide variety of events that are available: Strawberry Festival, Sand Sculpturing, Car Shows – you might be surprised at all the things happening right down the street that you never knew about! If you have a Welcome Center, stop by during the week, grab a few brochures and plan your next weekend adventure!
5. Take something small and make it bigger – take a walk around your town with new eyes. Then take something seemingly inconsequential and turn it into a new adventure. Love ice cream? See how many different kinds of ice cream parlors you can visit. Here in St. Augustine, we have an awesome Mom & Pop ice cream parlor downtown that Dan and I would have missed had we not been strolling down the street one Saturday afternoon. We spent part of a wonderful afternoon talking with the owners, learning the history of their business, the building and interesting facts about the neighborhood. There’s also a great place to get gelato on the beach that we discovered one weekend. It’s still fun to see where else offers ice cream that would be fun to explore! How about pizza? Imagine all the interesting places you can find in your hometown that offer pizza in a myriad of varieties and styles! Something so small and simple could end up making a truly memorable experience!
I hope you’ll make it a mission to look at your hometown with new eyes. You'll be surprised how simple shifts in everyday strategies can widen your window for adventure!
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