janis oppliger 178385 unsplash scaled
janis oppliger 178385 unsplash scaled

We think we know our hometown like the backs of our hands. We know the restaurants, the bookstores and coffee shops, the spots where crowds congregate on the weekends, how residents young and old spend their free time. But there’s often so much more to our hometowns than we may realize. New spots pop up, new history is uncovered, development happens, neighborhoods and businesses change.

Every so often, we should spend time being tourists in our own towns. There’s so much opportunity for socializing, exploring, exercise, and learning something new. Here’s how you can be a tourist in your own town.

Take an historic tour

Check with your local historical society to find out what great historic locations you may be missing. Explore local historic sites, battlefields, or historic homes or neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places. Many sites like these will offer guided tours with a docent who knows the area or location well, some offer self-guided experiences as well if you’d rather explore at your own speed.

Book a hotel

One way to really get out of your normal hometown groove is to book a nice hotel room. Use this as a way to treat yourself—find a hotel with a great view, a highly rated restaurant, a spa, or a great cocktail bar. Ask the concierge what he or she recommends first-timers do when they’re in town, then ask what he or she likes to do as a local. This is a great way to uncover new and exciting places to eat, drink, and visit. 

Call or visit your local tourism bureau online

Get the tourist experience by calling or visiting the website of your local tourism bureau. They can help you find all sorts of spots and activities you hadn’t heard of, all based on your tastes and interests, whether that’s art, sports, the performing arts, history, food, or drink culture.

Go to a local museum

Spend a day at a local museum, but switch it up. If you normally like to check out art museums, try a science or history museum. Most museums have at least some rotating exhibits, and many even have specific docents tours that change.

If museums aren’t generally your thing, try an aquarium or animal preserve and reacquaint yourself with nature.

Explore the outdoors

Get some exercise and explore the outdoors. Ask the local tourism bureau about nearby nature preserves. Many will have guided walks with an expert on native plants and animals. 

Invite a friend from out of town

Invite a friend to visit from out of town and play tour guide. This will help you think about and even see your hometown through a newcomer’s lens. It may also force you to find those things that will be new to both of you—and help you learn something new.

Attend a lecture series

Many colleges and universities, and sometimes libraries, will host weekly or monthly lecture series with professors, researchers, authors, and experts in their field. Depending on the school or department, you may even be able to learn more about your town’s local history.

Visit your local bookstore

Visit out your local bookstore and check out the section of books on local history and culture. There’s likely plenty that you’ve yet to discover, and these books may spark your interest in new parts of your hometown.