How to Explore Your Own City
Since 2020 was NOT our year for traveling, many of us have resorted to making the most of our own towns. The only problem is that usually we wind up going to the same rotation of restaurants, grabbing coffee at the same place or shopping at the same stores, which makes your free time feel more like running errands instead of a relaxing weekend off.
I personally love the challenge of finding the new, fun places that are always popping up, but I know I’m unique in that regard. Ever since high school, I have dragged my friends with me to visit whatever the cool new thing was. I was definitely made fun of for driving so far out of the way for coffee or activities when I was younger, but now those same people text me for restaurant recommendations on a regular basis. Honestly, that’s part of the reason I started blogging – I realized that people don’t even know how to start looking for “new things” in their own city.
Here are a few tips to exploring your own city and making the most out of where you live.
Some of the best ways to find new things to do in your city is to just drive with no real purpose or destination. Head to an area of town you might not visit often and just go from there. I used to do this in Dallas before I ever moved here. I would have my GPS take me to a boutique I found on IG and then drive up and down all the surrounding streets to see what else I could find. Even if you just take a longer route home, you never know what shopping center or park you might pass that you’ve never noticed before. Because I’ve gotten “lost” I’ve learned more about Dallas than most locals do!
Instagram is a powerful tool to get connected to your own city, you just have to follow the right people! Finding trustworthy accounts that fit your vibe is the hardest part, but once you do your list of places to go and things to see will grow by a mile. I always start by searching my city name- this typically causes popular bloggers, influencers, boutiques or restaurants to pop up. Browse their content, see who they are tagging and start going down the rabbit hole from there. My favorite way to comprise a list of places to visit is by using the “suggested” tool. If you click on the arrow next to “message”, Instagram will feed you a bunch of similar accounts. (This is the perfect way to find options during vacation too). I’m constantly researching Instagram for events, pop-ups, and local eateries so that I’m one of the first people to know what’s going on in Dallas and beyond. Did you know that Dallas has a beach? I didn’t until this week when I girl I follow posted about it, so now it’s officially on my list! Also, don’t forget to save at least one post from the places you’re interested in, this way you can come back and have all their details, including addresses and hours of operation.
Most cities are broken up by districts, and naturally we gravitate towards some more than others. But I would challenge you to get outside of your comfort zone and visit some neighborhoods you might not get to very often. If it’s further than you typically drive, plan a day around it – find a lunch spot, a couple of shops and get a friend to go with you. There’s a chance it might not be your scene, but you never know, you just might find your new favorite boutique or ice cream shop that would never come to mind otherwise. Some of my favorite places to get gifts for friends or brunch on special occasions are located in districts that I only rarely visit, but that makes them all the more special
Some of my best finds happened because a coffee shop barista told me to keep driving in a certain direction. I’ve learned that small business owners are woven together by their desire to invest in their communities. If you are looking for something to do or somewhere new to eat- ask a local shop owner! Chances are, they will have more recommendations than you know what to do with. They also typically have the inside scoop on things that will be opening up around them in the future so don’t be afraid to just start a conversation – you never know what you’ll learn! Plus, it gives you more opportunities to support small business when you can trade in your chain restaurant or department store for something that is unique to your city!
Making time to invest in yourself and your community takes time and effort, but if you step outside of your routine even just once or twice, you might end up finding some local gems that become staples in your life.