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How to be a Tourist in Your Hometown

How to be a tourist in your hometown
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I wish I could quit my job and travel the world full-time. I really do. I know it would be difficult and I’d have to learn to deal with the constant moving and not feeling like I could really settle and put down roots. But that’s not my reality right now. I have too many responsibilities that keep me sitting tight right now, but that desire to travel is ever-present. How do I satisfy that itch? The answer is simple: I learned how to be a tourist in my current hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

 

Being a tourist in your hometown is a little weird, if I’m totally honest. You have to adopt a different type of mind-set, which allows you to look at your hometown with fresh eyes, as if you’re stepping foot into it for the very first time. You have to make yourself a little vulnerable and ask questions that might seem weird at first, because hey, you’ve been living here for 8 years already. Shouldn’t you know when that building was first erected? Or know more about the local food scene?

 

Once you finally decide that you’re going to (re)discover your hometown, what’s the first step? Exactly HOW do you go about it? To be honest, there’s no real one way to do this…just like there’s no one true way to travel. We all have our own styles, tricks, and favorites. Here are my tried and true tips on how to be a tourist in your own hometown!

 

How to be a tourist in your hometown



 

Lookup your hometown on TripAdvisor and Pinterest

As ambivalent as I am about the website, TripAdvisor seems to be a place that a lot of people refer to when planning a trip. When I first started to look around Salt Lake City for ideas, I turned to TripAdvisor to see what people are asking about. What kinds of recommendations are people looking for? When visitors only have 1 day to visit Salt Lake City, what are their priorities? Historical sites? Museums? Sports? Visitors will also rate some of the local highlights, and it’s also fun to see what everyone has to say about places that you consider your own…and take their comments with a grain of salt.

 

Are you an avid Pinner? Do you have boards for certain favorite or bucket-list destinations? Well, why not create a Pinterest board of things to do in your own hometown? It’s so much fun to read about out-of-towners’ experiences in your hometown. What did they love? How did they spend their 10-hour layover? Where were their must-do destinations? What makes it on their “Top 10 Things to Do in…”? Have you heard of all of them, or are you adding them to your to-do list? Having a true visitor’s perspective is magnificent.

 

How to be a tourist in your hometown

 

Consider what your hometown is known for

What is your hometown’s claim to fame, so to speak? What are the stereotypes that visitors want to experience? Think about it. Los Angeles means the beach, Rodeo Drive, and movie stars. London means Big Ben. Paris? The Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and bread. Salt Lake City is widely known for being the “home base” for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially known as Mormons) and Temple Square. While a lot of Utahs might roll their eyes at the idea of visiting a place that they might be able to see from their house, millions of people from around the world flock to the grounds at Temple Square to see the architecture, learn the history of the Mormon Pioneers, and discover their roots at the Family History Center. Bottom line: take the time to visit the places that make your hometown famous and try to figure out why.

 

Catch a bird’s-eye view of the town

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to scale a mountain or climb to the top of the tallest building around. Forcing yourself to have a different perspective of a city is a great way to kick off your hometown touristy adventure. Climb a mountain. Are there any observation decks or ferris wheels? Take a minute to enjoy the view and pretend it’s a maze you’re about to run around, with hidden gems around every corner.

 

How to be a tourist in your hometown

 

Buy a public transit day or multi-day pass

When I’m trying to navigate a new city, I always take care to purchase a transit pass. Nothing is worse than purchasing a one-way ticket, only to get off at the wrong stop, find another kiosk or window, and fork over some more money. With the luxury of having a day pass, I was always willing to take new routes and check out distant corners of a city. If your hometown has a public transportation system, buy a pass and get on the bus, train, or streetcar. Take it to the end of the line and see what you can discover. Is your town a little smaller and lacking public transit? Pack a bag, throw on your walking shoes and wander!

 

Take a free walking tour

If the office of tourism in your hometown offers free walking tours, chances are that most residents have no idea about them and haven’t taken advantage of them: I know I sure haven’t. One of the benefits of taking a walking tour is that the guide usually takes you down streets that you pass on the daily. How many times have you passed a particular building without knowing anything about it’s history and construction? Well, good thing that walking tour took you there! Now, you have another fact in your arsenal for when you’re hosting out-of-town relatives. Or playing Jeopardy!

 

Actually plan a staycation

We’ve all heard the advice and read the articles on why we shouldn’t take a staycation, like this one and this one. And I get it. Traveling to different places is exhilarating and rejuvenating. Getting away for even a night or 2 can do wonders for the soul. But I’m also a realist and fully understand the time, money, and physical limitations that most people share. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to get away for a weekend, or you’re uncomfortable doing so alone. If you fit any of the above description, a staycation is totally up your alley! If you want to (re)discover your hometown, why not plan it out the way you would a weekend away? Make a list of places you’d like to visit. Maybe schedule a tour or book a show. Make a dinner reservation. Actually planning it out will help enhance your experience!

 

Take all the selfies!

How many of us can scroll through our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed and pick out tons of selfies we’ve taken in cool places? Or in front of signs/billboards/markers? I have tons from all over the world and love every single one of them. Some of my favorites, however, were taken pretty close to my current hometown. When you’re driving around your hometown, where do you see people taking pictures? Is there a “Welcome to…” sign around? Do you live next to a state/country border? Are there any funny billboards around? Take a selfie with them!

 

How to be a tourist in your hometown

 


Of course, there are tons of other tips and tricks you can use to elevate your experience of (re)discovering your hometown. And if not, that’s okay too! Here are a few adventures I’ve been on to learn more about my current hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah!

 

The Sun Tunnels: Discovering Art in the Middle of Nowhere

The Spiral Jetty: Everything You Need to Know

Cents of Style Wall: Discover the Rainbow

 



 

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14 thoughts on “How to be a Tourist in Your Hometown

  1. Great post and great tips, we are going to be heading home after 12 months of full time travel and I was beginning to worry about filling my time but you have suggested great tips. I will be looking our home town up and finding out what tourists do. Thanks heaps

  2. I love this! I’m getting ready to move abroad next spring and it’s been one of my goals to get to really know my hometown before I leave. These are some great tips to rediscovering the areas I’ve lived my entire life.

  3. Being a tourist in your own town is cool. You are absolutely correct, we need to look with fresh eyes. We can experience many new things that we were not aware of. Great post and tips.

  4. I’ve been really exploring my own backyard lately too! Just like you said, I’ve been pinning a bunch of hikes to do in the area!
    cheers
    Diana

  5. I think you’re so right about exploring your own backyard. I agree about getting a transit pass to just sit on transportation and see what comes along! I’ll definitely try being more of a tourist at home when I’m not traveling!

  6. When I was home a few weeks ago, I stayed in a few hotels in the area which was fun! When people asked me where I was from I could tell them just a short walk away! As a tourist I would love to get a selfie by the Utah sign! I’ve never looked up my home town on Pinterest or Tripadvisor, I’m definitely going to try this when I’m home.

  7. This is such a lovely post! The idea of being a tourist in your hometown is quite innovative. I never thought of this before and the next thing I’m going to do is search for my hometown reviews on Tripadvisor and look for some nice pins on Pinterest. You just need to have the spirit of a traveller and you will find a lot of places to explore around you. Very helpful tips. I like your idea of Staycation and day pass. Thanks for sharing this innovative post. 🙂

  8. I love your point of view. We like to explore our hometown as a tourist too. In fact, we dedicate a weekend every few months to do so. It’s always a trend to check out places away from you whilst ignoring the beautiful land you reside in. I like your idea of Pinterest and TripAdvisor. Cheers!!

  9. I could really resonate with you as sometimes in Dubai, I become tourist. Though living in my home, I book hotels nearby and go for staycation. Taking selfies with great monuments and having bird-eye views in our home town is always so fun. Sometimes people give me ideas where to go thinking as if I am outside tourist which is very funny. Checking our hometown on TripAdvisor is also great.

  10. I did the same this summer too! As a local, I didn’t really explore my city and just traveling the world. I looked up on Trip Advisor and found many cool places and explored it. I will try the free walking tour next time I go back Vietnam! Thanks for these suggestions.

  11. I like to play tourist in my own city when I’m not traveling. Every time I manage to find something new! I like your tip on a staycation – it gives you an opportunity to explore your city with a fresh eye!

  12. I couldn’t agree more with this statement: “Being a tourist in your hometown is a little weird, if I’m totally honest.” Recently I had to tour the city I grew up and spent all my childhood at and realized that I had no idea where to start, what to do or what to tell to my international guests. I was so overwhelmed because I didn’t want to disappoint them and regret hiring me as their tour guide. haha To be honest – it was quite fascinating to learn what tourist learn about your hometown. Great read. Thanks for sharing! Loved this post.

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