Home: How to Live Like a Tourist
We all have heard the phrase when traveling "Live like the locals." While that is very good advice when looking for the best taco truck in Fresno or the best pizza in Chicago, sometimes I think in our home turf, we tend to live like a local a little too much. We forget how much the place we live actually has to offer.
I grew up in Utah. I lived there for 23 years. I lived like a local. I knew the best burger place in my town, I could tell you what parks were the least crowded on a summer day and I knew the short cuts to avoid the longer scenic routes. People from all over the world vacation in Utah. It is home to some of the best skiing, national forests, and, of course, Lake Powell.
But guess what? In all my years of living in Utah...
- I went skiing twice.
- I only went to Bryce Canyon, the Arche,s and Zions as a small child on a family drive.
- I have never been to Lake Powell.
- I didn't even go to any Olympic events when it was in Salt Lake City, or volunteer in any way.
Fail. It's not like I didn't have opportunity to do these things; I just never made the time to do them.
Well, we moved to Oregon about seven years ago and I vowed to not make the same mistake. Especially since I didn't know how permanent our Oregon residency was to be. I vowed to live like a tourist.
How to Live Like a Tourist
We have lived in three different areas of Oregon in our seven years here and each time we move to a new place, I type in to good old Google, "things to do in (fill in the city or town), OR." I come up with a few sites and almost every city I have ever tried this for has a site specifically for visitors. TripAdvisor, Virtual Tourist, and chamber of commerce sites are all good places to look and can help you find things that you maybe didn't know existed.
What we do then is make a list—a bucket list of sorts—of all the things we want to go and see in our town or city. Then every weekend we have free, we choose something to do on the list. If it is something small, like eat at the world famous Joe's, then we might do it on a weekday night, but most of our weekends are dedicated to exploring where we live. Sometimes it's a hike to a waterfall, sometimes it's visiting a museum that we pass every day and don't give a second look at, and sometimes it can be more involved, like camping at a gorgeous lake.
Since living in Oregon we have been to nearly every coastal town with a boardwalk and driven along the Oregon coast (stunning and a must-do for every bucket list).
We have camped at lots of lakes, hiked many a waterfall, explored several museums, and tasted our way through dozens of Saturday's and Farmer's markets.
And, of course, we have eaten a maple bacon bar at Voodoo Doughnuts. We really have lived in Oregon as tourists and have seen so much of this state.
We also get the opportunity to live like locals, too, and can tell you the best place in Bend to get a really good taco, or our favorite spot in Portland to have a picnic, the best Chinese food in Oregon (or anywhere else we've been), or where to find the best fries in Klamath Falls. That's the beauty of embracing both ways of living in your own state; when people come to visit and want to see all the touristy things, you're a perfect tour guide. The best of both worlds, local and tourist.
So get out your aloha shirt, floppy hats, and fanny packs. Go to that tourist spot near you that you have overlooked and hand another tourist your camera to get a picture of you smiling in front of a landmark. You might be surprised how much fun is right in your own backyard.
Here are some ideas to check out locally to get you started:
- Community events
- Shopping in the tourist shops
- Eating at a landmark restaurant
- Scenic drives
- Water fronts
What would you add to this list to help you live like a tourist in your home town?
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