We all love to go on vacation, explore new places and see new things; however, oddly enough we sometimes miss what our own local City or State has to explore. So for part of “thinking local,” I want to spend some time talking about being a tourist where you live.
When I visit friends or family in a new city, I always do some research before I go there. I look up the events that will be going on in the city, the venues, the parks, etc. If there is something exciting the week of my visit I don’t want to miss it. I also look at the surrounding areas to see if there are any attractions, historical sites, or just plain fun things to do. Most of the time when I share these places or things with the people that live there they say “I didn’t even know we had that here!”
I think when we live in a region long enough, we start to take for granted what it has to offer. I’ve spent years living in New Mexico before really venturing out into it and finding the true jewels scattered around the state. From the mining villages of Jemez Springs and Madrid, to the historic Santa Fe and beautiful Taos, you just have to know where to look to find the treasures.
Many people miss the beauty in New Mexico if they stay on the interstates and larger cities. To appreciate it you must venture off the beaten path, onto the smaller back roads. I’m talking about the turquoise trail, the smaller highways, and the nestled villages. This is where the true beauty lies, and you won’t find it unless you’re looking for it. This is why having the mindset of a tourist in your own backyard takes you to some interesting places you may have been taking for granted. It’s not just the places, but the stories, the people, and the cultures that you find.
It’s refreshing to see the place you call home in a new light, a tourist discovering what it has to offer. You also get a closer connection to the people, the cultures, and the attractions that make your state unique. Sometimes even the geography of the land has a story to tell.
Learn about the history behind where you live. Did native tribes once live off the land? Was there a great battle fought there? Take a guided tour or visit museums to learn more about the people that once walked the land.
Taste the cities, visit local restaurants, microbreweries, and coffee shops. Taste what you can’t get just anywhere. Find some new favorite spots to take guests when you have company visiting. When you know your city, you can show them the places and tastes they won’t find anywhere else.
You can find new places and events through local publishers, newspapers, Google maps, city websites, and more. Take a weekend and drive to a nearby random town, go camping, stay at a resort and immerse yourself.
Become proud of your region not just because you live there, but because you discover the best of what it has to offer and what makes it unique in the world.