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How to Be a Tourist in Your Own Town 

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Can’t afford to take a vacation this summer? Here are some simple ways to turn your hometown into a vacation destination.

When you live somewhere long enough, it stops being an interesting destination and becomes the surrounding area where you buy groceries and get your car serviced. This summer, treat your hometown like a new-to-you destination. Here are some tips:

  1. Tour your city’s local landmarks. Is your city known for its fountains? Parks? Boardwalks? Well-preserved early-American architecture? Take a day — or a few consecutive weekends — to tour your area’s notable attractions.
  2. Design a custom tour based on your own personal interests. If you love local food, spend a few weekends visiting your city’s farmers’ markets. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, tour the area’s artisan coffeehouses. Bike geek? Tour the local parks and byways on two wheels.
  3. Explore the local art museums. Most major art museums have one night a week or month when admission is free, and many have special family days or special events just for kids. Also, the majority of museums display only a fraction of their permanent collection, so if it’s been a handful of years since your last visit, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter the same art.
  4. Explore non-art museums. Most major metropolitan areas have a variety of collections — history museums, science museums, children’s museums, transportation museums — and many have obscure collections (the Science Museum of Minnesota boasts the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices) that will make for a very memorable trip.
  5. Peruse outdoor collections and other unique oddities, such as plant conservatories, arboretums, and sculpture parks, or take a day trip to see a quirky landmark like the world’s largest ball of twine.
  6. Find a schedule of special summer events and pencil in the ones that interest you. If they’re in your calendar, you won’t forget them, but you can always opt out if something else comes up in the meantime. Look for art fairs, block parties, neighborhood garage sales, concerts or movies in the park, ethnic food fairs, guided nature hikes in city parks, and community education classes.
  7. Keep it spontaneous. Use a few PTO hours and see a matinee in the middle of the week.

This originally appeared in “50 Ways to Make the Most of Summer” in the June 2012 issue of Experience Life.

is a Minneapolis-based health journalist and a certified functional-medicine health coach.

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