Does your social life suffer from stuck-in-a-rut syndrome? You know the tell-tale signs: your girls nights out all start to look alike, your date nights stay confined to a one-mile radius of your house and your “been there, done that” attitude limits what you think you can do for fun in your hometown.
If you’re stuck in a fun rut, maybe you need to look at your town from a tourist’s perspective.
When you’re in vacation mode, you spend time checking out your destination before you go. You research can’t-miss tourist attractions, community events, five-star restaurants, cultural offerings, and other fun things to do on your trip. In other words, you adopt the tourist mindset. To get out of your fun rut, simply look at your hometown from a tourist’s perspective to discover new dining options, local tours, parades, cultural events, shows, festivals, and more.
To get started, kick your tourist mindset into high gear with these ideas:
- Air Shows. Ready for some sky-high plane acrobatics? If you’re in North America, you can check out the amazing death-defying stunt shows of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, as well as military and civilian air shows at the International Council of Air Shows Calendar. For international air shows, you’ll need to do a little more legwork, since a comprehensive database doesn’t seem to exist. [Just type “air show (country)” into Google to get started.] But a few of the most popular shows include Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire, England; The Paris Air Show in Paris, France; and Tannkosh in Tannheim, Germany.
- Offbeat Tourist Attractions. Just because you’ve already seen your community’s most popular tourist attractions doesn’t mean there’s nothing fun left to see. Think a little more out of the box by considering off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions and quirky tourist stops such as The Waffle House Museum in Decatur, GA, and the Matchstick Marvels Museum in Gladbrook, IA. Need some help digging up your community’s best-kept secret? To search by U.S. location, check out Roadside Tourist or Roadside America.
- Colleges and Universities. You might already go to a few football games at your nearby university but think beyond the stadium. Your local college or university campus bustles with activities and events, many of which are free or low-cost and open to the community, such as concerts, arboretum visits, plays, speaker series, art gallery exhibits, planetarium shows, health seminars, stand-up comedy shows, charity walks and more. Click over to the websites of your local community colleges and public/private state colleges/universities for more information about events open to the public.
- Museums. You don’t need to be a bookish nerd or art snob to enjoy all the fun at science, art, and history museums. Culture springs to life through local museums, offering up both regular exhibits and special events. Look for black-tie galas, educational lectures, wine-and-cheese parties, hands-on programs, IMAX movies, retro game nights, traveling exhibits, speaker programs, special guests and more. Tip: Your local museum might participate in the ASTC Travel Passport Program, a reciprocal program that gives you free or discounted admission to 280 museums across the world.
- Reciprocal Programs for Families. Consider joining your local children’s museum. Besides the in-your-backyard family fun, you might also be able to tap into the amazing ACM Reciprocal Network, which includes half-price general admission to 200 museums in the U.S. and Canada. Ditto for your local zoo. Get your wild on by purchasing an annual zoo membership, which will give you discounted admission to over 150 U.S. zoos and aquariums if your local zoo participates in the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Reciprocal Program.
- Festivals and Events. Nix the weekly pizza-and-move night and check out a community festival or special event. You can find something for just about every taste, including a jazz concert, antique bazaar, Renaissance fair, wine tasting, ethnic celebration (Pierogi Festival, anyone?), muscle-car show, food truck round-up, arts-and-crafts show or karate exhibition. Visit Festival and Events’ website to get the details on community festivals and events in your town.
- Cooking Classes. Ready to boost your kitchen skills? Try your hand at one of the many cooking classes popping up all over the country. Many grocery stores (such as Whole Foods and Publix Aprons Cooking Schools) offer hands-on demonstrations, technique-based lessons, nutrition lectures and both one-day and multi-day meal-prep classes. Tip: If you’ve never attended a cooking class at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu’s Bleu Ribbon Kitchen, you might want to schedule a class pronto. The Bleu Ribbon Kitchen Program will cease operations as of June 25, 2016, due to the closing of all Le Cordon Bleu’s U.S. campuses.
Ready to cure your stuck-in-a-rut syndrome? Then adopt the tourist mindset to dig up some fun hometown excursions right in your own backyard.