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Taking a trip to Rome or France may be at the top of your Bucket List but how about taking a trip down the street to your local bakery? You are surrounded by untapped potential for adventure and you don’t even know it. Before you spend thousands of dollars on a trip to someplace half way around the world, do yourself a favor and check out your hometown. You may be surprised at how little you actually know about it and discover some diamonds in the rough. If you’re thinking to yourself, “But I wanna go to Rome!” cue stamped foot and tantrum- consider this exploration a test run to get you in the tourist mode and find the good spots without the millions of other tourists to dampen your spirits. And hey, you can still go to Rome…. But you’ll be ahead of the game in knowing how to explore the in’s and out’s of a city.
The local Chamber of Commerce is a haven for untapped adventures in your hometown. Have you honestly ever even checked it out? Chances are, the answer is no, but that can be a big mistake. When you are beginning your exploration, you HAVE to start here. The chamber of commerce in any city is the place that will tell you what’s happening in town, where to go for good food, and what some of the hidden and little-known gems are in town. Seriously make that your first stop and it will likely guide you to the next places you will explore. And if you feel like you’ve been everywhere, the chamber will help you to see all of the potential your town really has.
You can take this two ways- 1.) Movie theaters or 2.) Stage theaters. Let’s start with number 1: movie theaters. Now this might seem silly but when you are exploring a town, you should check out the options for movies. If there’s one theater in your town and you have been to it a thousand times, maybe check it out with a new pair of eyes. It might just feel like a totally new experience for you! If there is a drive-in theater, be sure to go check it out. It may seem old fashioned or out of date but it is an experience to be had- all under the stars! Now for number 2: a lot of people overlook local theater and head to the bigger cities to see productions. You are seriously missing out on the local talent that is right under your nose. It changes the way you see your community when you realize the caliber of talent all around you.
Whether you are an art aficionado or would rather spend an afternoon watching football, there’s something to be said for the unique sense of accomplishment you get when you walk through an art museum. From artist to artist, medium to medium, each piece tells a story. The amazing part is that each person gets their own story, like those Choose Your Own Adventure books. You get to imagine what the piece is trying to and it may be completely different than what the person next to you sees. How cool is that? Plus, most art galleries change their exhibits every month to every three months so you have plenty of material to check out.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got your favorite places for Italian food, Chinese food, pizza, Mexican food, etcetera. But what else is there? It has been stated that my hometown has the most restaurants per capita in the United States. That statement hasn’t been verified but suffice it to say, there are a lot of places to eat here. You truly could go to a different restaurant every couple of days for a year or so. So why not explore some new ones? Figure out the oldest restaurants in town (ahem, Chamber of Commerce) and find out the history behind them. You can truly eat your way through your city and find the best baklava in the most unsuspecting place or the most unique donuts you’ve ever tried. It’s worth a second look to find your new favorite stomping ground.
Ah, books. The smell, the feel, the experience. Libraries are filled with them and they also offer more than meets the eye. Most libraries host events, book clubs, kids activities, and are overall a plethora of community goodness. You can also find local authors featured there as well as explore the history of your town. Our library offers story time a few times a week for kids, hosts movie nights, and explores different speakers to create a better informed community. Seriously, your local library is the place to be!
This is truly one of my favorite ways to explore my hometown. It’s a bit voyeuristic but it truly lets you take a peek inside how those before us, lived. It’s remarkable to see the structures still standing but also how the architecture has changed over time. Looking at historical homes often helps you to realize how amazing it is to have running water, electricity, and more than one bathroom. At the same time, it gives you a glimpse of a simpler time when people truly had to work hard to survive and the closeness of family was non-negotiable. Perspective is what historical homes gives if you allow yourself to travel back in time.
Landmarks will vary significantly from place to place but one thing they have in common is a story. In my hometown there are various landmarks including houses (see above), old fire trucks, stage coaches, specific gravesites, as well as entire farms. These spots hold the history of your town and are downright cool to check out. If you can get a tour, you’ll have your own Wikipedia by your side. Going to Rome to explore the Colosseum is often on the bucket list but maybe your more attainable list is in your own backyard. You are surrounded by these incredible sites so why not explore them!
It is simply amazing to have the opportunity to explore within your own city because chances are, you’ve not seen them before. If that’s the case, get out there and check it out. You don’t have to go to another town, city, state, or country to have an adventure. You are surrounded by the local gems of your town and they are very much worth taking another glance at!
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