1. See the classics, the trademarks, the shining emblems of what makes your city yours.
Don’t be afraid to be a tourist now and again. It’s funny how we get so caught up in wanting to prove that we are natives, that we belong, that many of us go our whole lives without ever seeing the statue of liberty when we live only a few minutes away.
2. If you don’t live in the crux of the city, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pretend you do for a day, and do as the locals do.
Eat like a local. Shop like one too. Consumerism can get the best of us all, so you have to remember that there are always fantastic little spots tucked away in secret if only you take a little time to look. When I was growing up, I used to tell my parents that I wanted to go to Times Square to go shopping for new school clothes, and just as New Yorkers everywhere are currently face-palming, as were my parents, who explained how those stores were ones you could find, literally, anywhere, and that I should walk a few blocks West and see some of the vast, unique and (as I now understand) incredibly awesome fashion that NY is known for.
3. Never fall too deeply into the comfort of routine.
I guess this would also apply to those who live on the outskirts of their city, because I mean this especially for those who are coming inward to visit. I get that we all dig our tried and true routines, but I promise that there is so much more to experience in places that are so culturally and otherwise diverse. I didn’t know I liked Thai food. Yesterday I found the *best*coffee*ever at an organic store a block away from my office.
4. Don’t lose your sense of enchantment with the little things, and pay attention to who walks beside you.
Don’t let your daily routine drain you completely of the little things that make human life interesting. As you’re walking through the shoppes and down the streets, watch the people. You start to notice all of their little, eclectic nuances, and I personally am always inspired by this, and by all the little ways people are nonconformist about their appearances. Those little things tell a story about them in a way.
5. Get out of it now and again.
Urban life can be a mind-numbing black hole. Don’t forget that you, unlike most people of the world, are minutes, maybe even blocks away, from trains and planes and buses that are going anywhere and everywhere, and you should take advantage of that. You’ll appreciate it all more when you spend some time in the middle of nowhere and realize that there’s no 24-hour Duane Reade to fulfill your 2 am need for nail polish and chips.
6. If you’re going to visit or spend time anywhere, go to the parks.
There’s something that makes nature so much more beautiful when it’s surrounded by concrete and skyscrapers. Spend an afternoon there. Eat lunch on the benches. I’m partial to doing so in the fall, but hey, that’s me.
7. Go to the used bookstores and thrift shops.
That’s where the real finds are– the interesting, weird and downright awesome.
8. Find the magical and beautiful things that are going on in your city, things that seem like movie-esque experiences but are, in fact, real.
One of my favorites is in downtown New York, there’s a place called the Elevated Acre (it’s a section of grass and a surrounding garden on a rooftop) and it overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge and such. The place is phenomenal in itself, I used to eat lunch up there when I worked nearby, but some nights, they’ll project a movie and everybody can come sit with a blanket and (hopefully) someone else to share it with and it’s so simple, but so, so awesome. Talk about a first date story you’ll want to tell your grandchildren.
9. Do and taste what you’re known for– there’s a reason for it.
Don’t go to New York and eat Sbarro’s for lunch, you feel me?
10. Appreciate the art, and not just the stuff that’s in museums.
It’s on walls and buildings and artists are roaming the streets performing for you. Stop and watch. Give money to the performers who are good enough to make you do so.