I love traveling to new cities and gaining new experiences. Unfortunately, with the pandemic ruining most of our plans, I felt the urge to explore and know more about the town that I have grown up in and where I raise my family.
As I started exploring in my own backyard, I realized how much there was to learn about my own city. You’d be surprised how much there is to see and how little you probably know about the place you live. For some, low budgets due to job losses and being “Safer at Home,” it definitely put a dent in the fun of summer traveling this year, without a doubt. But just because you can’t go far doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Lovingly called a “stay-cation” by some, I call it being a tourist in your own city. Here are eight ways on how to do it and you can do it as a family!
1. Get a Visitor’s Guide.
You can find a Visitor’s Guide online at the bottom of visitclaremore.org or by calling a local hotel or motel. Ask to pick up a few for local attractions or activities that grab your attention, especially the ones that seem like something you wouldn’t normally pay attention to. Ask the hotelier or call Visit Claremore at (918) 341-8688 for what they recommend to tourists who have one day to spend in our city. And then be sure and call and ask if there’s a discount for locals or residents (you’d be surprised to learn how many places offer discounts like that!).
2. Get a friend to show you around like you’re a tourist.
Call up a friend you know who usually loves showing visitors around town and ask them to take you to some of their favorite places that make the city you live in special! They may take you to a place you would have never thought about visiting.
3. Move through it differently than you usually do.
Consider taking tours in the historic downtown up to the Will Roger’s Museum and other museums along the way. You’ll see your city with fresh eyes when learning about interesting points and fun historical facts.
4. Take cheesy photos of yourself in front of tourist spots.
That well-known statue at the Claremore Progress. A view at Claremore Lake. The famous murals downtown. The president’s at RSU. Even if you’ve already seen a lot of the city’s tourist spots, embrace the cheesiness of visiting them again by taking photos of yourself in front of them. Be sure to share and use the hashtag #visitclaremore in them!
5. Grab a meal at the most touristy restaurant in town.
Get the dish they swear they’re the best at making and that our city’s known for. Revel in its tasty (or greasy) glory. But also take a look around when you get there. I’ve found a lot of the touristy spots actually have cool history to them, with old photos decorating the walls and stories about our town waiting to be discovered.
6. Do something outdoors that only your city can offer.
We have an awesome mountain bike trail and now offer kayaking at the lake. Do it! Ever been to RSU’s Nature Trail? See it. Tons of farms open their “doors” during particularly lovely parts of the seasons? Take advantage! There are public fountains or water features that you can take the kids to. Have fun! Chances are there’s something outdoorsy our city does well and promotes to tourists; discover it.
7. Cheer on a local sports team.
You can go to a game, or even go to a sports bar to watch a game on a TV, surrounded by passionate locals and tourists alike. It’ll give you a good feeling of the spirit of our city. Youth baseball will be playing through June possibly into July.
8. Embrace a bit of history.
We have some amazing attractions that all illustrate an exciting part of our hometown’s history that might be worth checking out. Think about stopping and reading any roadside markers with interesting historical facts. And check to see if our city has any historical collections at our local library — sometimes you can find a whole collection of cool photos showing what our city looked like years ago. You can also find fun facts in Claremore’s Visitors Guide.
Looking for ideas for kiddos in tow? Shepherd’s Cross and Swan’s Dairy are great places to take the kids!
And now for the 5 reasons why you should be a tourist!
1. You’ll Get New Eyes.
Whether you want to explore more of your own city or travel in your home country, it will push you to take roads and corners you’ve never taken before. Getting lost in streets you’ve never been to and seeing new and beautiful things you never realized were there make you see your city in a new light.
While exploring more of Claremore, I visited neighborhoods I was not used to traveling to and I took pictures as if I was a tourist in my own city. I would raise my head and open my eyes just to appreciate the magnificence of the beautiful older homes that surrounded me.
So why don’t we feel the urge to explore and visit our own city or country? Well, because we are so absorbed by our daily routine that we become blind and don’t pay attention to the little details that are right in front of our eyes.
Sometimes beauty is right in front of us and we don’t even pay attention to it.
Raise your head, open your eyes and see the beauty that surrounds you.
2. You’ll Learn About Your City’s History and Heritage.
You’ve been driving and have passed by this building, church, or statue thousands of times... but do you know the name of it or the story behind it? Take the time to learn about the history and secrets of your city! This can range from reading a book about the founders of your city, or going to museums, exhibits, and tours.
By exploring your own city’s history, you will get a better understanding of its heritage and be able to bring this with you while traveling abroad and share it with the people you meet. Did you know that many of our most famous residents have a street named after them?
Go explore the hidden gems of your city...
3. Meet New People.
Have you ever played the game, “Talking to Strangers”?
The rule is simple: you have to engage a conversation with a complete stranger somewhere while exploring your own city. Okay, this might sound a little bit weird to just talk to someone randomly but believe me, you’ll be surprised by how interesting some conversations can be and how they can have a big impact on you!
One of the best places to play that game is in coffee shops because people tend to be more relaxed. That’s how I met a gentleman that has lived here his entire life and attended RSU when it was a military academy. Some conversations can be short; others can be longer. What matters is to meet new and different people in your own city; whether they are locals or tourists.
4. Go to the Top.
After walking and exploring the streets of the city, it is time to experience the top of it! Go to the top of the highest building or to a viewpoint at the highest level to get a panoramic view of your city. Then, for a completely different experience, do it again at night! My favorite spot in Claremore is at the Will Roger’s Museum where you can see the whole city. RSU by the soldier is another great spot! See your city from a new perspective.
5. You’ll Feel Refreshed!
No more boredom! Exploring your own city can be very refreshing since you will see new things and get a completely different perspective on the place you live. You just need to remind yourself that you can find beautiful things right where you are.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to travel to other towns...but traveling in your own city will change your entire perception of your home and everything will look new when you’re done.
I wouldn’t have imagined traveling and exploring more of my own city was going to be such a great experience but it made me realize how beautiful it is and how much I want to share all this beauty and history with people coming to visit my home. Not to mention all the new information I have to share about my city when I do travel.
Keep exploring. Keep learning. Stay curious.
And whether you are exploring your own city or visiting a new country, keep discovering.
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