Memorial Day is breathing down your neck, so I assume you’ve either got your weekend travel plans ready to go (good for you), or you’re like me and the only plans you have are to be outside, and not think about work. If don’t plan to travel, fear not, there is plenty of fun to go around while stuck joyously staying close to home.
Something weird happens to us once we live in a particular city: we no longer consider it “explorable”. Even if that city is the most famous city in the world – New York – residents tend to lean toward exploring their general area, not the city as a whole. “Go to the Upper East Side? Are you crazy? Do you know how far that is from Brooklyn?”
What if we changed this mindset and took this long weekend as an opportunity to stay local and learn about the place we call home? Don’t let your lack of travel, or the fact that all your friends are doing super cool things, give you fomo. You made the conscious decision to stick around, and by golly, you are going to enjoy it. Right?..... RIGHT?! Good.
Traipse around town and look for the best local eateries, or the best local ingredients (steer clear of the tourist traps). Maybe your town is known for its amazing sweet corn; go to a farmers market and snag a few ears to use in that night’s dinner. Whatever food your city/town is known for, or whatever your town “does right” (think Texas + BBQ, or Seattle + fish), find it and experience it. I mean come on, you’re not going all the way to Philadelphia and NOT looking for the best Philly cheese steak.
I want to be clear here: DO NOT go to your local grocery store and pick up frozen versions of these foods. Go out to a restaurant that specializes in it, or find them fresh and ready to prepare. If you’re going to do it, do it right.
I live in New York City and I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, or The New York Stock Exchange. That’s a shame, and I’m sure that no matter where you live, there is a list of things you haven’t seen, either. Put on your walking shoes and play the part of the tourist for a day. Get a deep dish pizza in Chicago. Go the the Space Needle in Seattle. Go see Lombard Street in San Francisco. Wherever the tourists flock to in your city, go there and see what all the fuss is about.
(Tip: I recommend doing this with a friend. Doing it alone tends to be soul-crushing…HAVE FUN!)
Find the hidden spots, the underground bars, and the mom & pop shops. There is so much commerce going on in any given city that it’s almost impossible to see everything yours has to offer. I dare you, for an entire day (or weekend if you feel up to it), to avoid all well-known, national brand names and take a “local tour” around your city. Turn over every rock, look behind every bush, and see everything your city has to offer. Grab your morning coffee from that “weird hippie place” instead of from your usual Starbucks. Go two-stepping at a local honky-tonk instead of at your usual club. Hell, drive the back roads to get to where you’re going instead of taking the highway. There is so much space around just waiting for you to experience it. Get out there and experience it.
Until next time – say hi to mom & pop for me