Social media is the perfect gateway to wanderlust. You can spend hours falling down the Instagram rabbit hole of white sand beaches and green mountains embraced in fog. It’s so easy to believe adventures can only be found in another timezone.
What about the hidden gems of your own hometown?
Go ahead and do a hashtag search of your region. We bet there’s more than a few posts that snagged your attention. While we are absolute believers in travel, spending time getting to know your own town is just as important as crossing another city off your bucket-list.
Here are a few tried and true ways of making the most of hometown tourism.
1) Start at the Visitor’s Center then grab a local coffee. - Obviously we have a bias, BUT you just can’t beat a Visitor’s Center if you really want to dig into everything your city or town has to offer. You’ll find it full of maps and brochures, you can speak with staff members for advice to help plan your day, and even find coupons and discounts! You can find a Visitor’s Center for The City of Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Stafford.
The coffee from your local coffee shop will totally put you in a hometown mood, and fuel you up for a day of adventuring. It’s a must!
2) Visit local museums- They tell the story of how your hometown came to be what it is today. Unfortunately, much of that very specific history won’t find it’s way into traditional history books. Curious? Skeptical? Check out these samples of Fredericksburg history: Fredericksburg’s Lesser Known History, Fredericksburg History Makers, and The Legendary Women Of Fredericksburg. These are just the tip of the ice-burg of Fredericksburg’s rich history.
3) Stay in a Bed and Breakfast or hotel- I can’t stress enough the difference staying in a new location makes. Yes, there is no place like home and it’s free. HOWEVER, it’s also a constant reminder of your to-do list and responsibilities. If you want to truly get away from it all during a staycation, you need to actually get away. Plus, it will help you embrace the tourist mindset better. If you’re staying in downtown, we recommend a Bed and Breakfast (like Lavender Heights or The Richard Johnson Inn), or The Marriott. Spotsylvania’s The Stevenson Ridge has beautiful cabins that make the perfect getaway!
4) Take a unique tour- We are seeing creative, fun tours popping up everywhere these days. Think: history tours, wine and beer tours, food tours, haunted tours, and more! The Visitor’s Center is a great place to look for information and schedules. For Fredericksburg, we recommend: Our new walking tour of Downtown, Fredericksburg's Olde Towne Carriage Tours, Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg, Flavors of Fredericksburg Food Tours, Fredericksburg Hauntings Tours, FXBG Brewery Tours, and Fred Vegas Brew Tours, River Rock Outfitter’s Tours, and The Virginia Outdoor Center.
5) Embrace the tourist specific stuff. - Believe it or not, many people who grew up close to DC have yet to visit all the monuments ( This author included. Yikes!). Tourist items simply don’t seem make it on the radar of locals.
Put it on your radar.
Tourist activities attract people from all over the world because they are worth the pilgrimage. Find out what draws travelers to your area and make an effort to immerse yourself in it. For Fredericksburg, much of that is its history. We suggest visiting Battlefields, Mary’s Point Monument, George Washington's Boyhood Home at Ferry Farm, Historic Kenmore Plantation, Stratford Hall, George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, and City Port.
6) Take pictures- This may sound a little out of left field, but hear us out. You take thousands of pictures of your kids, pets, food, and vacations. How many pictures do you have of your hometown? You will treasure these pictures when you’re older and can reflect upon what your town looked like, “Back in the day.” Take pictures of your adventures as a tourist, but also places you visit all the time. Your favorite coffee place or playground. Your running path or local brewery. Interested in viewing pictures of Fredericksburg through the ages? You will definitely want to visit the Fredericksburg Area Museum. They are currently showing photography exhibits such as, “World Aflame: A Hometown in Two World Wars," “Fredericksburg Flood of 1942, 75th Anniversary,"and ‘Heirlooms and Relics: A Portrait of a Community."
Written by Brenda Sapanghila