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10 Fun ways to be a tourist in your hometown

As wanderers, when we normally think about travel, thoughts of foreign lands and far away places flash across our minds, we certainly don’t think about travelling as staying in our own backyard, am I right? But becoming a tourist in your hometown is the perfect way to save money and your holiday allowance whilst getting to know your city. Here are 10 fun ways to be a tourist in your hometown…

1) Do your research

Treat your hometown like any other destination and do your research. Visit travel websites and other blogs, watch YouTube videos and find out what other people enjoy most about your hometown. You’ll be surprised by how many places you didn’t think about visiting.

Canals

2) Go on a guided tour

I would suggest going on a free walking tour in every city you visit because they’re an excellent way of familiarising yourself with a new place and they’re free! But tours aren’t just good for familiarising yourself with a new city, they are also a great way of familiarising yourself with fun facts and features of your own city.

I went on a guided tour of the town hall in my hometown of Manchester a couple of years ago with quite low expectations (after all, I’d lived within two miles of it for years, what did I not know about it by now?) and it was one of the most informative tours I have ever taken. I learned all about the town hall’s creation and involvement with the city’s beginnings…all things I didn’t know! If you can get past the embarrassment of being a local on the tour, you won’t regret being one of the tourists.

Manchester_Town_Hall

3) Explore a part of town you hardly (or never!) go to

There are so many different sides to every city that even if it is your hometown you can’t possibly know each district inside out. There are several areas of Manchester city centre such as the Northern Quarter and China Town that I don’t visit often because I’m generally travelling and exploring elsewhere, but it doesn’t mean they’re not awesome places to go. If you want to feel like most tourists do, have a wander through these districts and you never know what hidden gems you may find along the way.

Chinatown

4) Try out a popular restaurant you’ve never eaten in

Often when we travel the first few places we’ll eat are the ones that are most popular or central to a city because it’s just easier when you don’t know somewhere very well. But when the city in question is your home, you tend to avoid these ‘popular’ places because they are full of tourists. Well, these tourists are on to something because I can guarantee that somewhere you discarded are being, “too touristy” will be your new Friday night regular.

I was the same with Jamie’s Italian in Manchester. The restaurant was founded by one of the UK’s most popular celebrity chefs and is so popular you have to book way in advance (which you almost never have to do in Manchester with the abundance of places to eat!), so I never bothered. Then when visitors came into town we decided to give it a go on a night during the week (but still couldn’t get seated mind, until about 8pm) and I fell in love with it. The menus change every season and they have a great way of remixes old favourites whilst surprising you with new ones. What makes it so cool too, is it is based in an old Bank from the turn of the century, with original furnishings and safe on the ground floor. It has become one of my favourites places to eat in Manchester.

Jamie Olivers

5) Join a meet up group

Joining meet ups is not only a great way to get to know your hometown but a great way to connect and share ideas with other people in your hometown. Check for meet ups in your area through sites such as, Couchsurfing and Meetup.com. There are also ways you can explore the city just like a tourist through shared interests such as photography with InstaMeets.

Smile Manchester

6) Learn more about the history

No matter how long you have lived in a place or even if you have grown up there, there will always be parts of your town’s history or legacy you weren’t aware of. I kid you not, this Grade 1 listed Tudor manor below was less than a half hour walk away from my house for two years before I found out about it. It wasn’t until I briefly got a job opposite Ordsall Hall that I even knew it was there. How shocking is that? Also, feel free to judge me, major palm to the forehead on that one! But then when it’s on your doorstep you tend not to go looking for these things, and if they are not based in the city centre where most of the action takes place for tourists, there is a good chance you won’t find them without looking.

Spend the time to find out more about the history of your hometown and indulge in what secrets lie beneath the glossy travel guides and tourist information points.

Ordsall Hall

7) Visit points of interest short distances away

If you live in a city, chances are you stay within the confines of that city and enjoy all the entertainment that is within a mile away (I am guilty of being one of those people!). But to really feel like a tourist, visit points of interest that are within an hour’s drive of your hometown because you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much a little distance can bring up on your search.

Delamere Forest was one of those places for me. It was purely by chance we heard about Delamere Forest when we were invited by friends to join them for a day out a few months ago. The forest is only a 45 minute drive away from my house but because I don’t have a car, I never considered visiting somewhere as rural as this with no transport links. The day out really opened my eyes to how many awesome places were close to my hometown that I still had yet to find and explore.

Delemere Forest

8) Change your perspective

One of the best parts about being a tourist is capturing the insane views that as a local we don’t bother with. But why not? By changing our perspective we appreciate a whole new side to our hometowns and with endless view opportunities from the city centre to your nearest park, you’re bound to find a new one just around the corner.

Amazing views can often sneak up on you as this view of Manchester did from my local park. I only found this view by chance last year whilst out running with a friend of mine. I had never climbed all the way to the top of the hill there as it’s a huge park (and I was running!) but I’m so glad I did.

Top tip: If you’re thinking about visiting Manchester and want to check out different perspectives on the city, book a tour of the bell tower at Manchester Town Hall and have cocktails at sunset from the Hilton’s Cloud 23 bar for panoramic views of the city. 

Heaton Park

9) Take a friend around your favourite spots

This has to be one of my favourite ways to become a tourist in my hometown and that’s to show those you love, around the place you love. My friend Helen (who lives near London) had never really been to Manchester before, but that all changed last year when she came up to visit us on a sightseeing mission and we had a blast! I loved taking her to my favourite all day Canadian breakfast place, Moose, to Manchester’s Imperial War Museum and for cocktails in one of my favourite fancy bars, Cloud 23. But what I loved most about having her round was sharing these special places with her and seeing Manchester through fresh eyes.

Show a friend round

10) Join in on local events

As a tourist you are more likely to get involved with local events (ironically) to feel more like a local, but as a local you’re more likely looking for events everywhere else! Being aware of local events is a fun way to feel like a tourist but feel more a part of your community, which is a win win situation. Make the effort and keep track of fun local events you’d like to get involved with and you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to miss out. Events can include: a sports game, charity fairs, festivals and in Manchester, one of my favourites, Heaton Park’s Color me Rad 5k race. Manchester also has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, which I’m guilty of not attending every year because of the crazy crowds, but will promise myself that I’ll take advantage of the full tourist opportunity this year ;)
Color_me_Rad

What ways do you like to be a tourist in your hometown? What places do you always take people visiting you?

Mel x

About the author

Hi! I'm Mel a full-time Marketeer and part-time adventurer. I’m a British travel blogger who loves nothing more than immersing myself in different cultures and exploring new places. My goal is to inspire all of you office dwellers to follow your travel dreams whilst still working your 9-5.