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The Familiar Tourist: Traveling to Your Hometown As A Tourist [Gal About Town: Fashion and Travel at Your Fingertips]

Happy Travel Tuesday! Many of you may have already gone home for the holidays, or maybe you’re like me: waiting until a trip home doesn’t cost more than a trip to London. It’s beyond me how flying from LAX to my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania costs more than crossing an entire continent AND ocean, but during the holidays it does. Whenever we travel to home to see our family and friends, it’s easy to fall into a predictable routine: we often head to our favorite restaurant, go only to the same neighborhoods, stick to the normal routes, etc. But if you just take an hour’s worth of time before your next trip home to do some research, you can see your town from a whole new light. Do you still live in your hometown? These tips will still help you get out of your norm and learn something new.

Tip #1: Hit the blogs. There’s a ridiculous amount of blogs out there devoted to towns, travelling within towns, reviews of what to do in that town, etc. Do a simple Google search for your city’s name + blog. Right away I found links that listed HUNDREDS of blogs for Pittsburgh. Also, a friend (also a Jennifer) happens to write a great blog in which she and her husband challenge themselves to try new things around Pittsburgh (101 Achievements) between their blog and this directory: Pgh Bloggers Directory, I have more than enough to go on!

Tip #2: Sip it! Ever since “artisanal” and “hand crafted” became the trendy, I’ve noticed in pretty much every town-no matter how big or small- their own brewery or winery (or wine bar) has popped up recently. So grab your friends, or family members you enjoy drinking with, and head to the local watering hole. You might just find your new favorite Ale or Pinot that was made locally. And if you’re not into alcohol, check out a hip new local café. Either way, you’ll meet new people, try a beverage you’ve never had before, and find something new to love about where you came from. Pittsburgh is the hometown to a ton of breweries, you could probably throw a stone and hit one, so really this is the town to just go on a Brewery Tour. Check out this blog to see what they did: Better Beer Authority Blog.

Tip #3: Get some culture! It’s amazing how a neighborhood can change entirely in just a decade or so. Some neighborhoods you feared venturing into because you would likely be shot are now part of gentrification, and all of a sudden oozing art, boutiques with local designers, and amazing farm-to-table restaurants. In Pittsburgh this would be the East Liberty and Lawrenceville neighborhoods. I never dared going when I was young because of the countless murders you’d hear about on the nightly news. But now, these neighborhoods are part of the cultural heart of Pittsburgh. I suggest you look into something that seems to go on in many cities now: Art Walks. The galleries are open late, boutiques have sales, and restaurants have spectacular specials. You’ll discover new gems, and maybe new comforts, while learning more about the people who make up your town. If you can’t find an ArtWalk, look up a “Calendar of Events” for your town and search for something either you haven’t done or in a neighborhood you haven’t been to. For Lawrenceville’s version of the ArtWalk, check out: Unblurred! First Fridays on Penn.

Getting out of your usual routine during visits will help you not only enjoy the current trip, but make you look forward to future ones as well. And if you have a lot of time on your hands, take a sightseeing tour. You’ll be surprised by how little you actually knew about your town. To tour Pittsburgh by land AND water, check out: Just Ducky Tours . I love my favorite spots in Pittsburgh, but I’m also looking forward to finding new ones as well.

And for those of you who are keeping up with the 2012 Style Challenge, check out the picture below. I encourage you to post your progress in the comments!

My "Try Something New" dress

Now boldly go!

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featured image credit: jstrak