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Five Ways to Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Travel bucket lists usually include potentially life-changing journeys to faraway lands. Well, it’s time to share the love … closer to home.

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The Center Island Ferry offers an exceptional view of the Toronto skyline, including its impressive centerpiece, the CN Tower.


Trips that don’t involve packing for a week-plus or dealing with multiple bouts of airport security may not rate as front-page moments in your travel life, but they can be just as rewarding as the "epic itinerary."

The same holds true for exploring your hometown as if you've never been there before. 

I live in Toronto, Canada's largest city and one of its most popular tourist destinations.

Time and time again I've watched visitors’ faces light up at the wealth of attractions to be found here, whether it's an architectural stunner like the CN Tower, cultural exploits in Little Portugal or Little Jamaica, first-class theater, or a meal that wows.

And, yet, when I’m looking for a way to spend my time off, more often than not I head for the hills.

This year I'm determined to change that.

Hosting out-of-town visitors is one way to set about seeing your own city through fresh eyes, but there are other tricks that work just as well (and save you the trouble of having to get up and make your guests breakfast). Here are five.

1. Take a historic tour.

Sure you can reel off the names of the iconic buildings in your hometown, but do you know their history? Do you understand how your city was founded and why?

Those hop-on, hop-off tours might be meant for tourists, but they're a great way to fill the gaps in your local history knowledge. Plus, taking note of what visitors find interesting can be fascinating, allowing you to see the seemingly mundane in a whole new light.

2. Get a room.

Waking up in a hotel or bed-and-breakfast is a tried-and-true way to set the mood for exploring.

If you live in a suburb, head into the city. If you live in the city, consider spending a weekend getting to know the next town over. The added kick of being away from home for the night will only add to the day’s fun.

3. Make a date with your city.

There are places I pass on a regular basis in Toronto. Each time, I make a silent vow that “one day” I'll check them out. I'm sure several such places in your own area are popping to mind as you read this. 

Take it from me: It will never happen without a concrete plan. So pull out your calendar, set a date, and keep it.

4. Act like a tourist.

I’m not suggesting you don a fanny pack, simply that you do as tourists do when they're in discovery mode in a new city. 

Channel your inner traveler by popping over to the "new arrivals" booth at the local train station or chatting up the woman at the information counter at city hall. Peruse the newspaper with an eye out for activities that will take you out of your comfort zone rut and seek out local bloggers for insight into what’s new—and worth experiencing for yourself.

5. Take something small and make it bigger.

Those little things you usually do? Make them touristy.

Your daily stroll around the block could turn into a walk around a new-to-you neighborhood. Friday pizza night at home? Why not make it a mission to test out the newest pizzeria in town. You'll be surprised how simple shifts in everyday strategies can widen your window for adventure.


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