Many of us take the place where we live for granted. We get used to seeing the same things every day—the same houses, landmarks and cafes we’ve seen for years on end. But what if you could see your town with fresh eyes?
Last fall, my husband and I moved back to the town where I grew up. Though it’s changed a bit in the last six years, much of it is the same. But after living in three different states, I wanted to see my Michigan home with tourist eyes.
Here are five things I’ve done to accomplish this—and I hope you’ll try them, too!
1. Visit a restaurant you’ve never tried.
If you’re like me, you’re drawn to the same old restaurants where you order the same thing you always get. It’s comfortable, you know you’ll like it, so why change? Here’s one reason: You never know how many new favorites you’ll miss when you don’t try new things!
Try a restaurant or coffee shop you don’t usually visit, or try something new off your favorite restaurant menu. Change things up. Ask for recommendations. Go a little outside of town to hunt down those hole-in-the-wall eats. I’ve found many great restaurants this way—places now on my favorites list! (And avoid chains—go for local places!)
2. Take an alternate route.
We naturally drive the same route home; it’s habit. Instead, take a new route—maybe a more scenic or longer path, but one that exposes you to other parts of your town. I loved doing this when we lived in Pennsylvania. The rolling hills of Amish country were always an incredible view!
You can also do this on foot if you like to walk or run. If you live in town, try a different street each day. Observe the houses and take note of parks. You never know what you’ll discover!
3. Attend a festival you’d usually ignore.
In Virginia, we had a Garlic Festival. In Pennsylvania, we had an Apple Festival. In my Michigan hometown, we have a C. S. Lewis Festival, a winter carnival, sidewalk sales, a Polish Festival and a Morel Mushroom Festival! I’ve only been to a few of these events, but I’m planning to try more this year. What happens at a Morel Mushroom Festival? I don’t know. So it’s time to find out!
Whatever your town is known for, attend a local event—even if it doesn’t interest you. Make it fun by inviting friends and going out to dinner afterward. And even if it’s awkward, you’ll have a story to tell!
4. Visit local landmarks.
People who live in large cities or near popular landmarks sometimes don’t ever make it out to those landmarks—simply because they’re always there. When you don’t come to a location expressly to visit a bridge, cave or museum, it’s very easy to forget these things exist!
Find out what landmarks are near you. Make a point of visiting them at least once! If you have friends in town, take them with you for double the fun.
5. Try a new hobby.
If you live on a lake, consider going canoeing, kayaking or water skiing. Maybe only tourists do that—but BE a tourist! If you were visiting your hometown for the first time, what would you do? Where would you go?
Perhaps you could try fishing or hiking. Maybe you could do a fantastic shopping trip in town. You could go to a concert by a well-known local artist or visit all the art studios in the vicinity. Be creative!
Your town, however familiar, does not have to be boring, nor does it have to be big (the nearest mall is 1.5 hours from me!). You can enjoy where you are with open eyes, some creativity and a contented heart.