Love Where You Live: Be a Tourist at Home

Adam and I are going to Nashville in April, so I’m in serious planning and research mode right now. I know some people don’t like the planning part of traveling, but I LOVE it. Searching for activities and restaurant recommendations is so much fun to me, which works out well because my 2 usual travel buddies (Adam and my mom) are not into it at all. Anyway, my current planning mode has gotten me thinking about traveling in general.

I love to travel, but it’s just not possible to go as often as I’d like. I work full-time, so I only get a certain number of vacation days a year. Plus whenever we leave we have to find someone to watch the dogs…oh, and you know, money. So, I’m really starting to embrace the idea of being a tourist at home. 



I first got the idea from an episode of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. The ‘Try This at Home’ tip in episode 15 was to be a tourist at home and I thought it was genius. There are so many places in the Phoenix area that I’ve never been to, but if I were visiting the city, they would probably be on my itinerary. The weekend after listening to that episode Adam and I spent Saturday exploring Downtown Mesa and visiting the Arizona Museum of Natural History. It was such a fun day, but the idea kind of died out after that.



At the end of the year, for Adam’s birthday, I planned a Year of Dates gift and really took the opportunity to plan dates that involved visiting and exploring new places around Arizona. So far we’ve gone on a hot air balloon ride in North Phoenix, took a food tour in Old Town Scottsdale, and toured Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix. We’ve been having so much fun playing tourist lately, so today I want to share my tips for enjoying your own city.




1 | Create an itinerary
Let’s pretend that you’re really traveling to your city for a day/weekend, what would you plan? I like to start by searching for itineraries already posted online. I usually just google “3 days in _____” or “long weekend in ______” for my specific location. That’ll give you some great advice from Trip Advisor, blog posts, travel magazines, and other travel forums. I like to copy anything that sounds interesting in Word document and then see how often a suggestion comes up. If something sounds really interesting, I’ll search that specific activity and see if I can find out more details.


Then I just sort through all of the ideas and decide what’s a must do and what we’ll have time to do. I also like to group by location, so we don’t end up driving back and forth.




2 | Invite Guests
I think most of us only ever visit the tourist spots in our city when we have company. When we first moved to Arizona everyone that came to visit wanted to see the Grand Canyon. I think we went to the Grand Canyon like 5 times in the first couple years of living here. And honestly, I haven’t been back since. So if you need motivation to get out and explore, invite friends or family to come visit.


If you don’t have any guests coming anytime soon…or don’t want to bother entertaining guests (no judgement here), just pretend! Pretend you have family coming to visit, where would you take them? That question will give you a great starting point for your own tourist at home ideas.




3 | Organize a Year of Dates
Need more accountability? Plan a Year of Dates! Without the Year of Dates that I put together for Adam, we probably wouldn’t have gone on any of our adventures this year. I always have the best intentions of exploring, but I need something to hold me accountable and force me to call to make reservations. Plus it’s a great way to get someone else excited about being a tourist at home. It’s definitely easier to get someone to play tourist with you when it’s part of a gift vs. just a random suggestion to go horseback riding. Adam is pretty easy-going and is up for most things, but he would probably side-eye a couple of our activities if I just randomly planned them instead of being part of his gift. 


If you want to learn more about the Year of Dates idea, you can read all about it here. That post is full of fun date ideas and places to visit.




4 | Look for Deals
As a local, you might have more discounts available to you vs. a visitor. Some places give discounted tickets or offer reduced entrance fees with a local driver’s license. Another great resource is your local library. Our city library has a culture pass program that provides free entrance to two museums a month for 2 people. It looks like most of Arizona participates in that program and I found similar programs in other states when searching around. It’s definitely worth checking out! We’re planning on using this program to visit the Heard Museum for our May date and it’ll save us $36!




Playing tourist at home is such a fun way to learn more about your city. Regardless if you’ve lived somewhere for years or are a recent transplant, you’ll definitely learn something new about the place you call home. So if you’re feeling that itch to explore, consider being a tourist at home. It’s easier, cheaper, and more convenient that planning a full getaway. It’s also a fun date idea or a great way to spend the day with kids.


Do you ever play tourist in your city? What's your favorite place to visit in your area?


 
 
 

16 comments

  1. Such a great idea! We did something similar over winter break when we visited museums in our hometown. I was in Scottsdale on business just last week and also took a picture of the Old Town Scottsdale sign!

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    1. I hope you enjoyed Scottsdale! There's so much to do there and so many delicious places to eat!

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  2. I love this concept! There's so much to explore in our own backyards that we can easily be a tourist at home instead of going on vacation.

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    1. Yes! It's the perfect way to satisfy the travel bug even if you don't have the time or money to travel.

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  3. This is a great concept, and something I've really tried to embrace recently. I always find myself frustrated that we can't travel more often because of kids school and other commitments, but I have to keep reminding myself that we live in Florida and there's so much to see and do here!

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    1. That's so true! I bet there are TONS of things to see and do in Florida!

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  4. I"m a huge advocate for exploring my hometown! I write about it all of the time! :)

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    1. Yay! Glad to hear that! It looks like you are having a great time exploring Ohio!

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  5. I love this so much!! I also try to play tourist at home fairly often. I also love your idea of a year of dates and am totally going to plan to do that with my fiance. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. You should! I'm not exaggerating when I say that the Year of Dates was the best gift I've ever given. We've had so much fun going on the dates so far and I can't wait to go on our next one (horseback riding)!

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  6. I'm the same. Planning for trip is ALMOST as much fun as traveling! ;)

    shan
    The How-to Guru

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  7. Great tips! This something we've really tried to do lately with our 1-year old. It's easy, fun, and we are discovering a lot about our area that we will want to do again as our baby grows up.

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    1. Yes! I bet there are so many places that will be fun to visit again as your child gets older.

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  8. Yes! I did this last year and ticked off a lot of California spots that I'd had on the bucket list for a while. It was a great way to travel while saving for bigger things. It's cheaper because there's no airfare involved usually and you don't feel like you're missing out.

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    1. There are SO many amazing things to visit in California! I bet you saw so many beautiful sights and so many fun places!

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