From My Experience: 5 Ways to Explore Your New City

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Hey everyone! Starting a new summer series today called “From My Experience.” Hoping my quick, proven tips can help you!

When we were kids, my sister and I had an idea jar for the summer. Every May we filled the container with slips of paper, each one inscribed with inspiration to beat boredom. Whether you’ve recently moved to a new city or just want to explore beyond familiar territory as the busyness of spring winds down in to the dog days, it’s time to bring back the idea jar for  adults.

The steps are simple: Start with a jar, basket or container you can easily get a hand into. Decorate it as much or little as you wish (see Pinterest for help with this step). Add ideas you and yours can agree on and fully participate in. Such as…

  • Movies in the park – Many cities offer free summer movies at local parks or outdoor amphitheaters. Be sure to bring your own chairs/blankets, bug spray and snacks, however, as these are often not available at the site. Also plan your route ahead of time and arrive early. These hidden gems gain popularity quickly, especially with family-focused movies. Don’t be surprised to fight for parking, depending on your location.
  • The local library – That’s right, it isn’t just for books and free internet access. Libraries are expanding their reach beyond storage halls of information into hubs of community life. Check your library’s event calendar and you might find cultural celebrations, costume/theme parties, RPG and comic book gatherings, writers’ clubs, Knit in Public solidarity, DIY instruction and much more. And if you don’t find what you like, don’t be afraid to start something new! With your library’s support and influence, your niche interest could grow to a brotherhood of fellow fans.
  • Farmer’s markets – Not just for farmers. I’ve seen everything from fresh Belgian waffles (from actual Belgians!) to handcrafted jewelry. Sure, you can expect a prize-winning cucumber, but farmer’s markets have expanded far beyond your fruits and veggies. Plus, you’re supporting local business. Win-win.
  • Be a tourist – Just because you live here doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the sites. Whether it’s a giant statue or a renowned art museum, experience the city as presented in the tourism brochures. Find out for yourself what all the fuss is about.
  • Take public transportation somewhere – Even if you have a car or can walk everywhere you need to go, it’s worth knowing your city’s bus, subway or train system. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of an emergency to figure out how to purchase tickets/tokens/cards/passes. It’s always a good idea to have a general understanding of the routes and directions. Each city does it differently, so watch out for the sense of “been there, done that” than can pop up when you first ride or you might end up on a train going the opposite direction you wish to travel. Not that I’ve ever done this. *ahem* Travel secret? Some of the most interesting people I’ve met have been on public transportation. It’s a great opportunity to spark writing ideas. Or creative inspiration of any sort, really. More tips on this to come.

Bonus: search your city on social media. Follow the local newspaper or media outlet of your choice, but also look for events-oriented sites and the social media accounts of venues. If you are a concert-goer, it’s also worth it to set up alerts for your favorite bands through ticketing sites or subscribe to email lists. You can always unsubscribe later if it’s too much.

What are your favorite ways to get to know your city? Chime in below or reply on Twitter (@jenna_dewitt).

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2 thoughts on “From My Experience: 5 Ways to Explore Your New City

  1. Hmm… this is not a very helpful list for me. Thought I’d check it out for a little inspiration, but most of it doesn’t work for my context. I do take public transportation pretty much every day though (read: if I leave the house at all.)

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