8 Ways To Be a Tourist In Your Own Town

Rooftop view of DC's Chinatown

I have a confession: Meantime Meanderings are my favorite. For all my far-flung wanderlust and outlandish adventures, Meantime Meanderings has a great way of making me think small[er] and makes me reframe my [kind of] immediate surroundings. I mean… I’m still me, so excess and extremes just come naturally, but Meantime Meanderings does do this to the degree that it can with someone of my temperament. So, what big idea can I offer you today to pass the time between this vacation or that road trip? Be a tourist in your own town.

Now, I don’t mean go to the same vanilla spots you take your family to when they come for a visit. (Cue internal groan and eye roll.) I mean really immerse yourself in your own hood. Take a look at your hometown with a fresh perspective. Several ideas on how to achieve this…

1. Book a hotel

Grab one of those last-minute Groupons and make a weekend out of it… like a tourist would! Groupon a restaurant and a show while you’re at it. Then, pack your fancy clothes and have a fun night on the town! (No athleisure allowed.) Make use of the spa, the pool, and the room service, too.

2. Check Out a Different Neighborhood

We all have our favorites that we gravitate towards, but try something the few blocks next door. Do a little Google research on the up-and-coming areas, or just a neighborhood you haven’t been to yet. Head on out and enjoy!

3. Hop On An “Outside-the-Box” Tour

Can you believe I live in DC and I’ve never done a Segway tour? They’re everywhere. And I’ve never done one. But I should! Be a tourist in your own town and do whatever tours it is that your town does. Bike it, boat it, whatever; just think outside your box and then do that.

4. Create a theme… And Go Places

I, personally, love the weird and the wonderful, so my theme would be something around bizarre or macabre sights. (Atlas Obscura is perfect for this, by the way.) Maybe your schtick is culinary, and you try a bunch of tidbits out at all different spots—a cafe, a delicacy, a food truck, a dessert, a bar for a craft drink. Music? Nature? History? Culture? Same thing. Make sense?

5. Grab Your Camera And Get Creative

Nothing challenges you to notice the details like a self-imposed photo assignment. Yes, you are literally viewing things “through a new lens.” Look up, look down, look all around. You can even do this one in your everyday area. And you get some great shots. For even better shots, check out my “5 Tips for Great Travel Photos.”

6. Do Something This Very Weekend

Pretend you have no choice but to do something this very next weekend. Then, grab your local paper or log on to the local “it” site, find an event, and just go. Pour moi, it’s DCist. Make sure it’s something you haven’t done before; in fact, the more unfamiliar, the better.

7. Schedule a Whole Day of New

New breakfast joint, new morning garden, new lunch place, new afternoon museum, new dinner restaurant to finish off the tour.

8. When Was The Last Time You Visited That Tourist Spot, Anyhow?

Or at all, for that matter? As a military brat, I’m very familiar with the notion that such-and-such place will always be there to visit… and then I move and it’s not anymore. Even if that’s not the case, when was the last time you went to the top of the Space Needle? Niagara Falls? The White House? Probably longer than you thought. Perhaps a refresher is in order.

How Do You Tourist In Your Own Town?

Whatever your pleasure, there’s something available for everyone in every city. Don’t drive yourself crazy with the day-to-day doldrums; mix it up a little. Test some of these ideas out and get back to me. You won’t regret it! Have additional ideas? Throw them in the comments below.


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