How to be a tourist in your own town

Isn't it amazing how we go out of town and really take a place by storm? We visit museums, dance all night, and snag a resy at the local hot spot. Yet when we're at home, we stick to our usual routines, hitting-up our old standbys or staying on the couch. It's time to make the most of where you live. In honor of the always popular summer staycation, we've got a dozen ideas to turn you into a tourist in your own town.

1. List your favorite vacation activities
Do you like to see a local sports team? Go shopping? Sit and people watch at a sidewalk cafe? Let what you love to do on vacation inform how you're going to explore your own home turf. Bonus points: maybe what you love to do on vacation should find its way into your life more often, just for the fun of it.

2. Check out a local guide book
You've got the inside scoop, no doubt, but a travel guide focusing on your town might offer up suggestions you've overlooked, forgotten, or didn't even know about.

3. Get off your personal beaten path
The reason travel is so exciting is because we're extra aware of our surroundings. We're looking at new things and observing the out-of-the-ordinary. Replicate this feeling in your own life by spending the afternoon in a different part of town, taking different routes to and from work, or riding your bike in a new park. Keep your eyes wide open to get that sense of wonder and exploration.

4. Let your taste buds guide you
There might be a fancy It Restaurant in your town you think of as being only for tourists or a place people rave about that's inconvenient for you to get to. You know those places you say you'll try Someday? Give them a try! Or go to a new-to-you ethnic restaurant to get a foreign experience without a visa.

5. Shop local
Imagine that you're creating your own local shopping guide, and check out the shopping experiences that make your place unique. That could mean the flea market you've never visited, the best farmer's markets, or the posh local boutiques. No pressure to buy! Just explore.

6. Travel back in time

Almost every place has historic sites that townies assume are a snooze. But you never know how visiting a battleground, restored home, or recreated village will inform your sense of life in the here and now.

7. Prime yourself for adventure

When we're in a new place we often get up early, raring to go. Bring this same sense of adventure to your hometown. Get out of the house early in the day with the intention of staying out and about and seeing as much as you can.

8. Take a guided tour

Hop on a boat or bus tour, or fall in line on a walking tour. Sometimes these are themed (twilight ghost stories and literary tours, anyone?), but even the straight-up factual variety can offer a new perspective on your place.

9. Hit the museums and churches

We almost always do this when we're out of town--some kind of universal traveler's law--but rarely at home. Step into a cavernous space in your town to look at art or marvel at arches.

10. People watch

Grab a sidewalk table and a glass of something delicious and sit. For at least an hour, take the time to just observe your surroundings and what street style defines your town.

11. Splurge!

When we're on vacation we treat ourselves, and a staycation should be no exception. Look at it this way: you're already saving on hotels. Dress up and visit that posh restaurant, plan a night of dancing, and spring for tickets to the ballet, opera, or local theater.

12. Use your imagination
Don't just go through the motions of being a tourist in your own town; actually pretend that you are new in town. We tend to act differently when we're somewhere new. We're wide-eyed, open-minded, carefree, and curious. Try to be open to the adventure that crosses your path and go with the flow.

Bonus: Take pictures!
One of the reasons we have such great memories of our vacations is because we document them! Take pictures in your town of everything that delights you and of you and your honey in front of a sunset.

More from Real-Life Makeover:
10 ideas for cheap, healthy summer fun
Mastering the art of mindful eating
10 best movies to watch with your girlfriends

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