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How to sightsee in your own city

Predictable, tired, sparkless, flat..

Even in New York- despite the fast-paced city and nightlife- I occasionally experience the lifestyle boredom of people in say, a small town in Ohio. Why? We get into the bad habit of living monochromatic routines, like taking the same subway routes, going to the same grocery stores, going to the same haunts and walking the same grid system of streets. The tricky part is getting your Repeat button unstuck!

Despite the attempts to revive my urban lifestyle with a concert here, or art opening there,…sometimes, my love affair with New York City feels like it’s over.  We all experience the doldrums periodically and if you’re like me, you can die from it, slowly. “Effort” feels like a dirty word and sometimes, you don’t want to HAVE to explore new things about your city outside of the tried and true.

new york subway photos

Taken that I love to travel and am inspired to explore things abroad, I decided to put myself to the test and find a way to make my old city, …well, new!

Here is the first tip to tourist my own city and to re-ignite the passion that was once there.

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Playing  tour guide to others in New York City

It’s amazing how my own city can look different and come alive when I’m playing tour guide to visiting friends and relatives. It’s as if their curiosity, enthusiasm and touristic love affair for experiencing my city are contagious. But there’s more to playing a tour guide than one thinks:

Me and my sister at my favorite spot, New York’s Union Square

a) You are the Party Cruise Director and the party is NOT about you.

Planning a fun schedule for someone else’s personality, entails surrendering that niggling part of me that is sometimes closed off to experiencing new things outside of my daily grid system.  I learn to walk and observe things in another persons’ shoes …which is something I don’t always practice.

I might choose well-known restaurants I’ve never been to but I think my guests would like to experience.

Or I  may pick up the city’s Weekly event magazine and scour activities around town based on what I think will either , be:

• unique for their experience
• preferential to their personality
• very NYC centric

As a result,  playing party cruise director pushes me to participate in choices I would NOT normally make for myself and it opens me to potentially, discover a new activity I may find I actually like.

see a broadway play in new york city, broadway plays in manhattan

b) Friends can have better ideas than you do.

While I am a local who should know about my city, when I have guests in town,  I inevitably become a bit of a tourist myself.

They want to tourist my city in a way that I’ve either never thought of or I’d ordinarily drag my heels on. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge- didn’t think of that as “something FUN TO DO”…

Rather than party poop, I strap a camera to my neck and jump in to making their fun tourist memory of my city, a fun sightseeing memory for me too.

click here to read about our experience in Washington DC

One example is a recent trip to Washington D.C. with my sister this past summer. Laborious map-walking tours through historical monuments are not my cup of tea. In fact, it is the quickest way to hear groans from me early off & luckily my sister is a similar species as me. My sister, proposed taking a monument tour via bike tour, where we were led by a guide on a bike excursion through all the main monuments. It was fun, brilliant, active and engaging!

The fact my sister had a more creative and unique approach to sightseeing and it opened me to exploring alternatives to sightseeing activities.

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c) Relive your own first love and share it with others.

We all have a  special history with our city that made us fall in love with it.  When friends and relatives visit you and you take them around, they are really sightseeing what you feel makes the city special. It’s what you love about where you live.

My first love affair with my city was poignant:

•  It was the way I strolled down the streets looking up at the skyscrapers dreamily,…
•  It was seeing fireflies in the summer in Central Park, while playing frisbee,
• It was attending my first free summer dance concert in the open aired seating of Lincoln Center
• It was visiting cheap hole-in-the-wall restaurants

Take friends on a tour and share them bits of your first love… or give them a silly tour of all the places you got jilted.

It’ll help you recapture your initial spark and inspire you to see with the same “first sight” that attracted your love.

eating with your fingers

Taking my sister to an Ethiopian restaurant, where I first enjoyed eating with my fingers

Your relationship with your city is like a regular relationship… it occasionally needs a fresh spark.

Once you get comfortable, you take it for granted. This is inevitable with all things. We lose the passion or mystery with a place, once we feel we understand it. But we never really understand a place, just as we can never fully understand people.

The passion in my relationship with my city was there until I grew blinders and stopped noticing. There are distinct and uniquely special things about my city.  Other people who visit my city, think my life is pretty exciting and cool. I have a lot to be grateful for in where I live….

So I’m blowing the dust off of the sparkling gem of my city and you can too…

Tourist it!

One Comments

  1. This is such a great idea! I live in Philadelphia and I could really use a fresh perspective on my city. I love this article and plan on taking quite a few of your suggestions.

    I love that you share your experiences with others like you do. If you are ever looking for another outlet you should check out http://realfamilytrips.com Users upload travel itineraries for other travelers to browse through, providing them with firsthand knowledge of various locations. It makes planning the perfect vacation that much easier.

    Thanks for the article! Keep up the good work!

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