I never seem to do tourist-y things in my own town until a friend comes to visit. Then they ask, “What should we see? Where should we eat?” And I’m like, “I don’t know! What should we see? Where should we eat?” I have a few ideas, but I’m embarrassed that I can’t recommend more things to do. I may be a local, but I’m not much of a guide.
One of the truisms of my personality is that I tend to gravitate toward home. I like to stay in. I like to order out. I nest. But I also know that most of the good stuff in life exists outside my apartment, so I constantly fight an inner battle to go out and do things instead of stay in and do things. I’ve lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for over two years now, and while I’ve seen lots of things and eaten at lots of places, I haven’t done as much as I’d like. I need to be more of a tourist in my own town.
I don’t think this behavior is just limited to me. My friends in New York never seem to visit the Statue of Liberty or go to the top of the Empire State Building unless they’re ushering someone else around town. When you live somewhere there is no end point for your stay, so you think you can get around to seeing things eventually. But when you’re on vacation and only visiting for a few days there is an urgency to see what you can when you can. And if you do live somewhere for awhile and then move away, like my older brother and his wife did recently, you suddenly have a list of restaurants you urgently need to eat at before you pack up the moving truck.
I’ve been making a list of places to visit and restaurants to eat at in the Chapel Hill area. I’m trying to do at least two a month. I’ve been using Yelp and Foursquare for recommendations. I’ve also got some guidebooks my brother left with me after he moved. I managed to cross the North Carolina Botanical Garden off my list when my friend came to town, so I’m already on my way. It’s easier to stick to visiting the places I already know, but I’ll try to seize a sense of adventure and discover what else is out there.
Good for you!! I think it’s a problem most of us have when we’re local to an area. I live in Florida — I have for most of my life — and realized a few months ago that it had been nearly a decade since I set foot on a beach. So I made reservations and we went a couple times this summer.
Bonus points to me with managing two trips to the beach and coming back without even a shadow of a tan. Heh. It’s the little things some days…
I have kids who I have to entertain in school holidays, so we tend to go places I never would have visited, or even known about, otherwise. The Glassworks has a school holiday activity where you can watch someone make a paperweight and then enter a colouring-in competition? Excellent! You can sit in a replica Vietnam War era helicopter at the War Memorial? Let’s go! They have 40,000 Lego blocks at Old Parliament House and an activity to collaboratively build the perfect city? We’re there!
Our area runs hometown tourist events once a year. Free admission on one set day to all kinds of local places.
Many of the places offer free admission on their own for certain days of the week or once a month.
I have put myself on all kinds of email lists this year in my area. I receive notice for events, speakers, plays, musicals, exhibits, etc. we have been going to many of them. I joined two book review groups which I am really enjoying. I also joined a discussion group that meets four times a month.
I am finding the intellectual stimulation is really helping me.
If it weren’t for out of town visitors, we’d never do anything fun and touristy. Even the places I have visited seem new and fresh when first seen by our guests, so I enjoy the experience too.
Rebecca in SoCal says
Definitely not limited to you. That’s why I admire a blogger who recently moved to southern California, and is already getting out to see the sights (despite carrying along a newborn!) She does know she’s here for only one year; that’s a great incentive.
It’s also good to know what the locals do. For instance, it’s much easier to evaluate a restaurant you can make repeat visits to. Or: you don’t want to do “that” on (name it)–that’s when all the tourists are there.
Luckily a lot of people come to this area as newbies… so there is lots to explore and lots of other newbies to explore it with! There is also a great culture supporting small, local businesses. I’ve been in Durham for about 2-3 years now and I find new places frequently. It makes life more interesting.