The Staycation Manual: 10 Ways to be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Can’t afford that plane ticket to Europe? No time off work to backpack with your buddies in Peru? No desire to pack up and head out of town? Whether you’re broke, busy, or bored, here are ten ways that you can be a tourist in your hometown.

1. Pretend you’re new in town

You may be a local, but other people on the street don’t know that. Ask someone for directions to a local attraction, or better yet, ask that person for recommendations on places to go. Find a new coffee spot by asking a local where they go. You might even make a new friend!

Asking for directions in DC

Asking for directions in DC

2. Take advantage of free/cheap offers

Most cities have some sort of walking tour to check out local sights and learn a little more about local history, and these tend to be free or cheap—but don’t forget to tip! An easy place to find fun and cheap things to do in town: Groupon, which conveniently is available in over 500 cities in about 48 countries.

Take advantage of Groupon's cheap offers on things to do in town

Take advantage of Groupon's cheap offers on things to do in town

3. Visit your local tourism office

The local tourism office is usually my first stop in a new city, so why not my hometown? Your local tourism office (most small towns even have one) is a great place to go to get the local scoop. Ask for restaurant recommendations. Get the lowdown on current events and attractions. Challenge them to mark locations of public art on a map and go on a photo tour to find them all.

Follow the signs to your local tourism office

Follow the signs to your local tourism office

4. Ride on a tour bus

The most tourist-y of all tourist activities! Bring your camera to snap photos of your city from the eyes of a visitor. Have fun hopping on and off for the day at attractions around town.

Do as the tourists do: ride the sightseeing bus!

Do as the tourists do: ride the sightseeing bus!

5. Hit the local museums

You may have already hit up a few local museums, but there are surely some you haven’t yet. Do some research and find one you haven’t heard of and check it out. You just might stumble upon a hidden gem.

Visiting a Van Gogh exhibit in Seoul

Visiting a Van Gogh exhibit in Seoul

6. Find a different vantage point

Often we move around our cities along the same paths with the same views. If you’re in need of a new scene, find a different vantage point. Go high—rooftop patios, observation decks, or mountains if your city has some. With a new perspective, you can see your hometown in a whole new way. 

Chicago skyline from the John Hancock Observatory (now: 360 Chicago)

Chicago skyline from the John Hancock Observatory (now: 360 Chicago)

7. Visit a bookstore or library

Do as the tourists do: check out a guidebook for your city and take its advice for top attractions. At your library or bookstore, find the ‘local’ section and read about your city’s history.

Browsing the local section at the bookstore

Browsing the local section at the bookstore

8. Get into nature

To get to know your city better, it might be a good idea to get out of it! Head to a beach, city park, or walking/hiking trail and find a little spot of nature to relax in for the afternoon. Bring your book from #7 for something to read.

Wandering through Central Park, NYC

Wandering through Central Park, NYC

9. Ditch your regular transportation

If you own a car, park it somewhere and buy a day pass for local transit. Ride to the end of a line and explore a new neighbourhood. If you’re a transit user, ditch the pass and rent a car for the day. Take advantage of having your own wheels and drive to a neighbourhood that’s difficult for you to reach via subway or bus. Or you can go solo and rent a bike.

Taking transit in Kuala Lumpur

Taking transit in Kuala Lumpur

10. Sleep somewhere new

There’s nothing more home-like than falling asleep in your own bed—so it’s time to sleep somewhere new. Find a local B&B or Airbnb and pretend you’re just in town for the night. Check into a hotel in a new neighbourhood you explored that day. Bonus: you won’t have to make your bed in the morning.

Checking out a hotel room

Checking out a hotel room


What did you explore and discover in your hometown on your staycation? Do you have any other staycation ideas? Let me know in the comments below!