Hometown travel

When it comes to travel, one thing I strongly believe is that travel can happen anywhere. I’ve stated before that travel does not have to be limited to exotic trips that cross time zones, since travel really is a state of mind. It is possible to “travel” within one’s city, state, or region; to be a tourist and take in the sights that we usually take for granted.

Enjoying Italian ice in Little Italy

Enjoying Italian ice in Little Italy

I’m quite fortunate in the hometown travel arena.  I was born and raised in Chicago and that’s where I still live. Sure, it’s a typical big city with big-city problems, but it also is one of the most culturally diverse American urban areas. In a Twitter travel chat the other night, I mentioned that when exploring Chicago’s range of cultures, it’s like taking a mini trip around the world! Chicago also boasts world class museums, exceptional theater productions, and a pretty awesome lakefront. What does this mean for my family and me, and why do I think hometown travel is so great?

I don’t have to travel very far to expose my daughter to different cultures, customs, and cuisines. That’s nice and easy on the pocketbook, and it allows us to see and do more in a shorter period of time.

Hometown travel can act as a dry run for future away-from-home travels. Load up the diaper bag with the necessities, throw in some toys and snacks, and see how long it lasts while you’re away from the house. Take public transportation to see how the little one reacts to buses and trains. Get an idea of how the stroller handles different types of pavement and terrain.  If something goes horribly wrong, you’re a lot closer to home.

We get an idea of what we’d like to see more of. Really enjoyed the schnitzel at that German restaurant? Got a kick out of the band playing traditional German music and had fun dancing along? Why not start thinking about that trip to Germany!

We can be spontaneous. We don’t have to decide weeks or months in advance on an itinerary. It’s easy to put together a weekend of outdoor activities, the arts, and dining – all at the last minute.

I realize I’m luckier than others, since Chicago does have so many options, but I bet there are really cool things to see and do in your hometowns.  What are some of your favorites?

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10 Responses to Hometown travel

  1. Dominique January 20, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    I love our little day-trips around the Detroit area, too! We just went out the other day for our own little “photowalk” around the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn (MI), and it’s not unusual for us to go out a day to take photos, do a little geocaching, check out some historical sites or museums, do some hiking…or whatever.
    There are also lots of places near enough for us to do an overnight or weekend trip, and a lot of the things I’ve written about on my own blog are stories about those sorts of trips.
    Art competition in Grand Rapids? Foodie heaven in Ann Arbor? Covered bridges in Ashtabula? A baseball game in Toledo? A farmers market in Cleveland? All blog fodder, but more importantly, all opportunities to take a break from our daily routines and enjoy something new.
    I absolutely agree with your philosophy of hometown (and nearby) travel here.

    • Francesca January 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

      Thanks, Dominique! Glad we share the same philosophy. Michigan is one of our favorite close-to-home destinations (mostly west & southwest Michigan). By the way, we went to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids for the first time last Fall & loved it! We will be making that an annual trip.

  2. Sophie S January 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Amen! I am so glad that I was born and raised in Chicago! Whenever I have friends visiting I literally take them around the world in Chicago. Our faves of course include Chinatown– especially around the Chinese New Year– and then Greek Town with skyline views on the patio at Pegasus. Head into Little Italy, bazaar shopping on Devon Avenue and belly dancing and hookah in Roger’s Park!

  3. Leah (@L_e_a_h) September 11, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    I decided to become a tourist in my own town too after having visitors from out of town. I realized that I hadn’t even scratched the surface of what Houston had to offer. Great article!

    • Francesca September 13, 2011 at 6:15 am #

      That is the best time to play tourist in your own city, I think. I know I love showing off my town to visitors!


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