5 Ways to be a Tourist in Your Hometown

posted on October 11, 2019 | by Ashlea Cook

5 Ways to be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Recently, the battle with my ‘regular life’ has seemed increasingly intense. I just moved back to my hometown after living in New York City and Philadelphia for the past 5 years. Back to a city where nothing seems to change and everything seems stagnate. The bright lights of New York City are no longer a part of my walk home, and the endless possibilities of glitz and glamour are no more.

The excitement of being back home has dulled slightly; I have seen almost everyone I missed daily while being away and have gone back to most of my favorite spots. Although I felt a little disheartened, I became determined to make the most of this huge decision to uproot my life back to this city I called home. So, with my fresh outlook and the awareness that my wallet desperately needed a break, I set out to figure out ways to re-discover home. Here they are:

Go, Even if You Have Never Heard of the Band(s)

One of the things I miss the most about NYC and Philly is the music scene. Countless shows and concerts in a never-ending list of unique venues. However, I didn’t appreciate how much wonderful music existed in my own home town.

I recently bought a ticket to the Calgary Folk Music Fest and discovered some wonderful local acts, swayed in unison to the music with my family, close friends and complete strangers, and unearthed an event that I will now attend on a yearly basis.

My music takeaways:

-Don’t be intimidated by a festival. You do not need to attend from opening to close, so go for the period of time that works for you.

-Explore volunteer opportunities at festivals. It’s an opportunity to experience the atmosphere, get free access to events and private parties, and meet new people.

-Looking for something more intimate? Sofar is a group that puts together secret-location small shows with local artists

Take Yourself for a Solo Dinner

I don’t know about you, but when I take myself out for a solo dinner, I am instantly transported back to my memories of traveling France solo. I bring a good book, make sure to have dessert, and my night is made. It was a regular monthly (sometimes weekly) activity that I really enjoyed doing in both Philly and NYC.

The joys of travel don’t always have to involve physically changing locations, maybe instead travel can just involve you trying a cuisine that originated from a far-off land and digging into that childish imagination we tuck away as adults. So, try that new spot, or maybe even take yourself to a tried and true local favorite that you have never been to.

Check out the Local Galleries and Museums

When I travel, I seek out the galleries and local artwork, but in my own city, I barely give it a glance. Thankfully, living in NYC taught me that art can literally be everywhere, and you continually have to keep your eyes peeled. If you fail to look up, or just around the corner you may miss a wonderful mural, or a local gallery hiding in an unmarked building.

Use social media for what it’s good for and find the galleries or even just the local coffee shops, restaurants, or outdoor murals that display artist’s work. One huge positive is that many galleries offer one free day a month, or sometimes many galleries don’t even require an admission fee. If it is donation based, give what you can and don’t let the guilt of not having a ton of extra money hold you back.

Invite friends to visit

Recently I had two of my closest friends visit me from NYC, which gave me the opportunity to show off my hometown. It forced me to do some research about what my city has to offer and helped me open my eyes to just how special the traditional parts of my city are. What may be your everyday view, may be someone’s dream, so take a second to really look and take it all in. Is there something in your own city, that people travel to see? Have you, yourself, truly taken a moment to look at it?

Read a Travel Book for Your City

During my most recent library run, I received a perplexed look from the librarian as I signed out a travel book on Calgary and the Canadian Rockies. I explained that although I was born and raised here in Calgary, I knew there was so much in the area that I had never heard about and I was determined to learn.

We can get so stuck in a routine of taking the same route to work, of going to the same coffee shops, bars, and restaurants that we never even give ourselves the chance to uncover new and wonderful things. I have even found out about unique events and activities by reading old school posters tacked to bulletin boards or even taped to light posts on the corner, so don’t be entirely dependent on social media, take a second to look around next time you walk home from work.

Next time you are feeling like the only person not traveling to glamorous places, take a second to think about what you could discover just around the corner. I used to think that you had to leave home to gain perspective, but perhaps perspective can be gained locally if only you give yourself the chance. So, get out there, open your eyes, support your local community, and discover the unknown.

What have you recently discovered in your hometown? When is the last time you did something entirely new?