All this summer, I’ve been trying to play tourist in my own city, exploring new areas and revisiting old favourites. It wasn’t as successful as I thought. It started off excellent. I was going out every weekend, going to new places, doing new things. I dragged my family along with me too. But somewhere along the way, between the hot summer and long days, I lost a bit enthusiasm for it.
As summer comes to an end, I’m looking back at this summer’s adventures. While I didn’t see everything I wanted to do in Vancouver, that just means I have more to experience as we head into the fall and winter. Along the way, I picked up a few tactics on how to play tourist in your own city.
Plan it out
If I were going to visit you this weekend, what would we do? Where would we eat? Where would we go? Write this down and then go do it yourself. Go to all the typical tourist spots. Hit up all the museums. Do all the quintessential things a tourist would do and that you normally wouldn’t be caught doing.
Explore new areas
Even though I’ve technically called Vancouver home all my life, there are definitely lots of places I haven’t visited or explored. Some I’ve done when I was a kid or as a part of school, but seeing these same things would be a completely different as an adult. Others are area that I’ve just previously ignored or never even knew existed. Pick areas where your normal day to day life doesn’t take you.
Take a tour
See your city how the tourist see it by signing yourself up for a local tour if your city. If you normally walk, try taking a biking tour. If you’re a cyclist, try walking. Or perhaps pick a themed tour. Most cities offer food tours or underground tours. Do a little Googling and you’ll be surprised to find random, but cool sounding tours of the city. Vancouver for example, has plenty of food tours and the Forbidden Tours of Vancouver have a great ring to it.
Change it up
Keeping in line with exploring new areas, be sure to change it up every week. If you’re exploring one neighbourhood this week, try heading to the mountains if you have some nearby. Near the water? Perhaps go to the beach or a lake the next. Maybe there is a nearby national park you could explore. The more variety you add, the less bored you’re likely to be with it all.
Try new things
Sometimes being a tourist in your own city isn’t just about exploring it. It can also be about new ways of seeing it. Try new things like paddle boarding if you’re near water, or perhaps zip-lining if you have mountains nearby. Perhaps you’ve discovered some new activity while traveling abroad. Revisit those memories by doing that same activity at home.
Get up high
One thing most people like to do when traveling is getting a high vantage point of the city, and yet, they don’t do it when at home. Most cities have a tall building open to visitors where you can enjoy the city skyline. Don’t want to spring all that money for just a view? See if there are any restaurants or lounges that offer something similar, or if you have friends in high places (ha ha, see what I did there? Sorry, puns are my specialty), maybe it’s time to pay them and their rooftop a visit.
Go back in history
One aspect of travel is learning about the area’s history so do the same for your own home town. Dust off your history books and see how your city came to be what it is today. Then go visit all those spots. Plus, you get to look super smart and show off when you do have friends or family visiting from out of town.
Check out local events
Summer is a great time to be a tourist in your own city. There are plenty of outdoor activities, exciting festivals and interesting events to participate in. Look up local blogs and check out local newspapers for event details.
Charge up your camera
You’re not on vacation unless you’re taking needless photos of everything. Charge your battery. Empty your SD card and get click happy. Take all the cheesy shots you want. No one is judging. You’re on holiday remember?
Utilize local promotions
Many cities offer promotional programs for their own citizens to explore the city they call home. This this opportunity to explore your city. Plus, often these promotions some with huge savings and discounts which makes it even better. Victoria, BC, for example, offers a savings passport for a weekend of activity.
Okay, so technically this isn’t exactly being a tourist in your own city. Take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and visit random towns or attractions that you’ve never been before. Are there nearby parks to explore? What about hikes? Make it extra special by finding a hotel for a night and make it a weekend getaway.
When you love traveling but can’t travel due to other commitments, then playing tourist in your own city is a great option. You get a tourist experience while fulfilling your day to day life. You get the experience without paying money to take a flight or pay for accommodation. It adds variety to your day to day, with something to look forward to. Plus, it’s so much fun!
How do you discover your hometown? Do you like playing tourist at home?