How to explore your hometown like a tourist


Lately, I’ve been restless. My schedule has been uncharacteristically consistent, and, while that’s good for my productivity, my health, and my personal relationships, I’m beginning to feel antsy…when will the next trip come? When will I break from my day-in-day-out work/life routine?

When will I see something new again—something that challenges my boundaries, and refreshes my perspective?

The answer is as close as Google flights, but instead of turning to the airport, I’ve turned to my own hometown for a little adventure. Call it a “stay-cation” if you want. I took a trip for the few days off I had for Christmas, and explored my familiar surroundings with fresh eyes.

The French novelist Marcel Proust famously said,

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

New landscapes can be easy to seek after, especially in an age when travel is more accessible, often cheaper, and easier to plan than ever. But I’m proposing a challenge: why not explore our own homes as if we were tourists?

The irony of being a local is that we are often not very familiar with our own locales. When I meet people who have visited my hometown, they often know of epic hikes and hidden coves in my hometown, but I only know the same beaten-down path I’ve been jogging down for the past 10+ years. I have become acclimated to my own habits and routines in my hometown—and maybe even a little jaded, thinking “I’ve seen it all.”

That being said, I’ve made it a point to explore and discover the place I have called home for all of my childhood and some of my adult life. Here are 5 things I learned about how to take a proper stay-cation—and how to take a look at where we are with new eyes.


1. Seek out new perspectives.

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Palos Verdes, CA, as seen from the Pacific Ocean

Seeking out new perspectives may require you to go somewhere you’ve never gone before…which in some cases, necessitates a little physical creativity. Go up on your roof, take a hike in the hills, go to the top floor of a skyscraper . Or, do as I did today, and get out onto a sailboat (if you live on the ocean). Gazing back onto the shores of my hometown, rather than back out from them, gave me a fresh appreciation for where I live. With every house miniaturized, and the hills dwarfing the residential areas, my hometown looked wild and untamed.


2. Visit the tourist-y spots.

Point Vicente Lighthouse, on the Palos Verdes cliffs

I grew up down the street from a somewhat famous lighthouse, and have probably been escorted here on a grade-school fieldtrip, but never thought to revisit the historical site. When you see something on a daily basis—regardless of how striking it is—it can lose its luster if you let it. Since revisiting the Point Vicente Lighthouse, I have learned the lore and ghost stories that give it mystery, and the Hollywood accolades that still make it LA (it has been used for several films, including Pearl Harbor.) Don’t hesitate to visit the tourist-y spots where you live…there’s usually a valid reason that they attract visitors.


3. Go to church.

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Wayfarer’s Chapel

In the not so distant past, more money and time were invested in building altars to the divine than to residences, meaning churches often feature impressive architecture, beautiful gardens, and deep historical significance. Plus, they are usually free to visit—and quiet. I am blessed to live down the street from Wayfarer’s Chapel, a gorgeous glass chapel designed by the son of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940’s. I was surprised to discover how sacred the chapel still feels, how vibrant the gardens, and how rich the history. Try spending a little quiet time in and around a local church, and rediscover what makes it worth preserving.


4. Be fancy.

Terranea Resort

We are often more likely to spend a little extra cash when traveling, but when we’re home we sometimes relegate certain restaurants, cafes, or hotels to “too expensive”.…meaning we might never get to enjoy them. Rather than spending money on gas (or a plane ticket), visit the pricey spot you would never otherwise go. Where I live, that means spending an afternoon or evening at the resort down the street, and not worrying about the ridiculous price tag for a glass of wine at the bar. Spending an hour or two feeling fancy reminds me to treat myself on a stay-cation. That’s what makes travel special.


5. Take a hike.

Del Cerro Park, in Palos Verdes

Having a conventional routine often means that we spend a lot of time indoors—in the office, at home, at the gym, in our cars. But when the weather affords it, and the conditions are right, getting outdoors can revive us like nothing else. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by cliffs, vista views, and hikeable terrain—so I took a hike at the summit of my hometown to get a fresh look, a little exercise, and a lot of much-needed quiet.

What is it that makes your hometown special? Try taking a look at what looks familiar with “fresh eyes” …you may discover that the escape you’ve been longing for is closer than you think.

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