On the Zing Blog, we’ve talked about Michigan and Ohio day trips as well as discussed tips for cheap travel. However, there is one more vacation spot to visit this summer and it’s right outside your door and probably your cheapest vacation of the year. Why not try being a tourist in your own town? Believe it or not some communities even host a “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” Day to create community solidarity and help local businesses and non-profits.
I first heard about Be a Tourist in Your Own Town Day a year ago and thought it was exclusively a Pure Michigan tourism campaign; I read about it in my local newspaper and saw it on several Michigan-related blogs. However, upon further research, Be a Tourist in Your Own Town Day is actually a nationwide—even world-wide—event.
While the chosen day to celebrate varies from community to community, most cities offer a passport or book full of coupons allowing visitors to access local museums, businesses, art studios, restaurants, and public transportation for free or at a discounted price. Some cities also host live music and hands-on activities for families and children.
Although most communities dedicate a specific day to be a tourist, some people try to visit a new place in their town on a more regular basis. Numerous reviews on sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor share reviews of restaurants, museums, and businesses from local people with titles of “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.”
At least once a week, I try to find a new place to visit within a 20 minute drive of my house. For me, it’s addicting because I never know what I’ll find next. Just at the end of the block, there is a locally-owned ice cream shop that serves the best and most inexpensive ice cream in the area. I didn’t bother to check it out until four months after I moved into my house, but I was new to the area and determined to explore places around me, and I’m glad I did. Now, think about the places near you that you haven’t visited yet.
Most of us absent-mindedly drive by interesting places in our community because we’ve seen them every day. It also doesn’t help that most of us are in a rut. We all have our favorite restaurants or bars we like to hang out at, but variety keeps things exciting and the novelty of discovering a new favorite place is always rewarding.
Finding places to visit in your town also creates a sense of community pride. You can’t help but talk about the new restaurant or bar you discovered. As a result of sharing your finds with others, they are inspired to visit it too–helping local businesses grow and prosper. Or maybe you visited a local museum and learned something new about your city that you never knew before. Constantly learning more about where you live keeps you intrigued and wondering what other stories your town has to offer.
Being a tourist in your own town creates awareness of the unique people and places around you and helps local businesses. You’ll be surprised at what you find. The best Mexican restaurant in town could be right around the corner from you and you might never know if you don’t investigate. It’s the cheapest vacation you’ll take all summer and it doesn’t have to end if you keep exploring.
To find out if your town or city hosts a Be a Tourist in Your Town Day, search online or contact a city official. Even if there isn’t an official day, don’t let that stop you!
What cool places have you discovered in your neck of the woods? Share some tips with your fellow Zing readers!