Many of us love to travel far and wide, exploring new places and thrilling at new experiences. There is value in that type of exploration and learning about different people & places. The flip side is when we spend our energy on this form of travel, we can be too drained or without the time to explore places closer to home.
In the new world we find ourselves in, exploring close to home reaps many many rewards!
Where do I start?
1. Think like a tourist.
This is the easiest part of your exploration! Simply treat your online searches like you would if you were travelling elsewhere. Search "top attractions in ___" or "tourist centres in ___". Follow local tourism websites and social media, like us here at Railway City Tourism, as well as nearby destination marketing organizations, to get inside info on what to see and do.
2. Stay within 100km radius of you.
Setting a limit on your travel distance guarantees you stay closer to home, but it will also encourage you to explore places you might not normally consider. Make it fun! Instead of visiting the main attractions nearby, such as Jumbo, find something that offers a unique cultural experience, such as tap room tastings and tours at Railway City Brewing.
By visiting places closer to home you are engaging with the cultural heritage of your region. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the area or your family has lived there for generations. What matters is that you’re connecting with the land & people and building ties that you can pass on to future generations. This encourages communities to keep traditions alive. It would be a shame to lose out on these connections simply because we don’t realize they exist!
2. Shop local. Spend time locally.
Travelling locally (and here we mean within your hometown) has a positive impact on local business infrastructure, and tax dollars from sales at local shops are reinvested back into our communities.
Look for local businesses to shop at and restaurants to eat at. By doing so, you are not only supporting what is likely a family-run business, you are helping that business grow and improve.
3. Expand your discovery radius.
There is something exciting about going out in search of new places that aren’t often visited. Many of us are born with an inherent desire to travel; we love adventure, but what we really love is discovery.
If you are visiting a major attraction (hi Jumbo!), try stepping out of the car and going for a walk in surrounding neighbourhoods. You never know what you may find! Around Jumbo, for example, find very interesting walks in the neighbourhood as you stumble across the entry to the St. Thomas Elevated Park, or the beautiful setting around the Old St. Thomas Church.
4. Ask yourself what you do when you go on vacation.
What do you look for when you go on vacation? Do you seek out local architecture? Then try contacting the local historic museum to get some more in depth research. Do you love nature and hiking trails? Seek out the local conservation authorities and parks to see if they have any off the beaten track hiking trails. Or are you an arts lover? Start with the St. Thomas Elgin Public Art Centre to see what exhibits they are offering and link you to any local studios and galleries.
5. Walk around downtown.
We will close our list with another easy option. Simply park your car downtown, get out and go for a walk. When we drive to our favourite store locally, or simply move from destination to destination, we might be missing a lot of places we simply don't see in all the hustle and bustle. So slow down and ask employees at local shops where they recommend visiting! They can often lead you to explore some cool stops, cafes and boutiques you didn't know was there.
It is not down in any map; true places never are.