You can still have an adventure even if your weekend activities or travel plans have been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. Explore the iconic and hidden wonders that are right in your own backdoor and discover what you've been missing! This article is a re-post but stay tuned for more ideas of things to see and do in DC as events are postponed or cancelled. And for a custom one-of-a-kind adventure in the District, contact us.
It's funny, we're always so eager to leave our city or hometown to go off exploring and have new adventures somewhere else. But have you ever explored your own city with the same curiosity as a tourist? Other than when you first moved, that is.
You'd be amazed by how many things there are to see and do, and how little you actually know about the city you live in. Plus, you’ll get the same mood-boosting benefits of travel without spending as much or suffering any jet lag!
Read on for my 10 reasons to explore your own city like a tourist . . .
I love traveling to new countries and experiencing new cultures. Luckily, I've had the chance to live overseas for many years and travel solo and with friends when wanderlust strikes.
But one day I had a light bulb moment: Why wait to book a trip to explore and make new discoveries? Even though I've lived in DC a long time, I realized that I still had a lot to learn about my own city. There are infinite possibilities to explore literally in my own backyard.
Further, I discovered that the excitement for new experiences and connection with different cultures that pulled me to far flung destinations was the same feeling I got exploring close to home. And as I learned, new adventures and experiences can't be defined by guide books.
So, here are my top 10 ways to explore your own city or town.
1. Have a staycation
Enjoy a getaway without going too far away. The best way to feel like you’re on vacation without venturing too far from home is to check into a hotel. Pack an overnight bag and spend a night away from home. Take a dip in the pool, order room service or enjoy a night on the town. This is a simple way to switch up your routine and feel like you’re out of town even if you’re only a few minutes from home!
2. Start small
Setting out to explore your city can seem like a daunting challenge. For starters, follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple. Your daily walk around the block could turn into a stroll around a new-to-you neighborhood. Planning to go out for dinner? Make it a plan to eat out at a restaurant down the street. Plan a day trip to the next town over. You'll be surprised how simple changes in everyday strategies can increase your appetite for adventure.
3. Channel your inner tourist
Whenever you're a tourist in another city or country, you tend to adopt a "go big or go home" mentality. Why not apply that same outlook to exploring events and activities in your own city? Pursue local websites and social media for what's new and worth experiencing for yourself. Most cities also have one day a month where museum and art galleries have free admission, making it a perfect time to get out of your comfort zone and explore new cultural territory.
4. Change your perspective
We get so caught up in our daily routine that we become blind and don’t pay attention to the little details that are right in front of our eyes. A photographer gave me the best advice once: Change your perspective. So, look up when you're out walking around and notice the architecture of the buildings around you. Go to the top of a tall building and get a panoramic view of your city. And for a completely different viewpoint, explore your city at night.
5. Put a date on it
You've driven by that old church on the corner and strolled by the sculpture in the park probably more times than you can count. There are many places you pass on a regular basis,. Each time, you make a silent promise you'll check them out "one day." Well, take it from me: It'll never happen unless you make a concrete plan. So set a date, put it on your calendar and keep it!
6. Take a tour
Tours are a great way to get to know your city. No matter how well you think you know the place where you live, there is always more to learn. 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. DC for example, has plenty of politics and scandal, food and outdoor art tours to explore to diverse pulse of city life.
7. Go back in time
Take the time to learn about your city's history. Explore its origins about how it came to be by visiting a history museum, then go see those famous locations IRL. And look for new ways to experience the past. For example, DC has neighborhood heritage trails where you can explore culture and history as you follow the self-guided walking trails. Each trail sign combines stories, historic photos, and maps-- all at your own pace.
8. Meet new people
Getting to meet new people who are different from you is one of the highlights of traveling. But people with amazing backgrounds and stories to share are around you all the time. You just haven't taken the time to strike up a conversation with them yet.
One of the best places to start a conversation with a stranger is on public transportation or ridesharing. After all, you already have a ready-made opener, "Where are you headed today?" It's how I met the new Director of the German language school who wanted to know about theatres in his new temporary home and found out about a cool underground concert from a musician going home after a late night gig. Some conversations will be short, others longer. What matters is meeting new and different people in your own city; whether they are locals or tourists. Taking note of what others find interesting can be fascinating, allowing you to see the seemingly mundane in a whole new light and discovering new things to see and do.
9. Explore new areas of the city
Even though I’ve lived in DC for years, there are still plenty of places I haven’t visited or explored. Some I've gone to when I was a kid, but seeing these same things would be a completely different as an adult. Others are areas on my to-do list that I just haven't ticked off yet. Choose areas where your normal day to day life doesn’t take you.
10. Try new things
Being a tourist in your own city isn't just about exploring. It's also about trying new things to discover, or perhaps rediscover, a reason to love where you live. Try rock climbing or for a hike in the mountains if there are any nearby, or give paddle boarding a try. Perhaps you’ve discovered a new activity you really like during your travels. Relive those memories by doing that same activity at home.
Exploring your own city changes your entire perception of where you live and shows you that amazing things are all around you. And it will remind you of what makes your city great and why you chose to call it home.
Keep exploring. Be adventurous. Keep discovering.
Most important, stay curious!
Want to explore the hidden gems and everyday wonders in DC? Contact us for your own custom-designed urban adventure!
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it