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Traveling Locally (Like a Tourist!)

Traveling Locally (Like a Tourist!)

Tourists often get a bad rap, but sometimes only an out-of-towner can really appreciate a place. Many people who’ve lived in New York City their entire lives have never gone to the top of the Empire State Building or been inside the Met. It’s just hard to appreciate the sites you see out the window every day on your commute. You take it for granted.

So to really appreciate the city or state where you live, you have to travel like a tourist. Traveling locally can be just as thrilling as an international adventure if you go in with a curious mind. Not only is local travel more affordable, and environmentally friendly, it offers a new feeling of connection to the places, history, communities, and cultures which already surround you.

Here are our tips for becoming a local tourist!


Go on a historical tour of your city or state.

Looking up the side of a building from the ground


History is made everywhere, but it’s easy to ignore historical locations if we see them regularly. Local history is our direct connection to the past. Hearing stories of the people who have gone before you, while you are literally standing in the places where they lived and worked makes history come alive. You can’t help but see yourself as part of the same story.

Plan a statewide road trip or a citywide walking tour and hit all the historical sites you previously overlooked. Research each landmark online or at a local library before you head out to add depth to your exploration. At each location, make it a point to take in all the sights and reflect on what happened there in the past. You may never look at your neighborhood the same way again.


Make time to try something completely new.


Maybe you liked a mouthwatering ice cream sundae on Instagram tagged to a new ice cream shop a few cities over. Or maybe a restaurant opened on the other side of town that you still haven’t gotten around to visiting. Sticking to the daily routines is easy. But traveling locally like a tourist means making the time for new experiences!

To make the outing feel more adventurous, plan a day out of it! While you’re in that nearby city, try out its local food trucks before you grab your ice cream. Check out a museum or go on a nature hike while you’re there. Or after you finish your cross-city dinner, check into a local hotel and hit up a nearby water park the next day.

Before you know it, the simple trip to an ice cream parlor became a fun weekend excursion!


Explore your nearest national or metro park.

Woods and a stream in autumn


City dwellers can easily feel like their environment doesn’t offer much natural beauty. Even if you live out in the country, appreciating the nature around you daily can be difficult. But with a little bit of effort to unplug and find some fresh air you can get all the benefits of time spent in nature, without having to travel to exotic locations.

30 states in the US have national parks. Even if yours doesn’t, there’s likely one within a reasonable driving distance. This makes them an ideal destination for local tourism for many people!

Exploring the national parks lets you experience its unique natural history. You can hike the rugged forests and mountains, view plants and wildlife, and camp under the stars. Often all within a short distance of home!

If you don’t have a national park nearby, state parks and metro parks also offer opportunities for you to connect with local nature. Seeking out the nearby sights of untouched wilderness will give you a new appreciation for the place you call home.


Commit to only shopping locally for a week. 

A "thank you for shopping local" sign in a shop window


Deciding to only support local businesses for a week will quickly turn you into a local tourist. Skipping national companies like Target and Wendy’s forces you to travel locally to shops and restaurants you might never have tried otherwise. And you're much more likely to connect to the owners, employees, and customers of your local mom and pop type store.

In addition to getting you out of your routine, you will be supporting local entrepreneurs. Shopping locally on your mission to become a local tourist helps keep money in your community. And most local businesses are more appreciative of your patronage than Amazon will ever be.


Even if you consider yourself a world traveler, you may find your adventures as a local tourist to be your favorites so far!

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