Tomorrow will be two weeks since I blindfolded my girlfriend and brought her to the Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills mall. A week before that I didn’t even know we had an aquarium here in Arizona. I found out about it on Tripadvisor while researching fun activities to do in Arizona.
I feel like this is normal. It’s normal for us locals to not know the touristic places of our home town or home city because we’re so set on the idea of “visiting the Eiffel Tower,” “eating pizza in Italy,” “snorkeling in Hawaii,” or “walking the streets of New York.” We never put on our tourist shoes or to explore our native places. We’re too obsessed with the idea of getting away. Going somewhere else. Somewhere that is as far away as possible.
I used to be the same way. I thought “Gosh, I REALLY want to visit Spain and Italy and backpack through Europe” and I did. But I have yet to visit the East Coast. Doesn’t that seem odd to you? I have traveled to a place over 5,000 miles away yet I’ve never traveled to one of the most popular places in my home country: New York City.
I never thought twice about this until I was talking to my friend Lenon one day while eating lunch and he asked me, “What is there to do in your home city? What should I do when I go visit there?”
As a member of the Phoenix community for over 19 years, I couldn’t think of anything to tell him besides, “You should climb Camelback Mountain or hike the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.” I honestly couldn’t think of anything else that might be interesting to a college student from another country. That’s when the epiphany hit me and I thought to myself, “Wow. I don’t even know what I would visit in Phoenix if I were a tourist. That’s because I don’t even know Phoenix, or even Arizona, myself and I’ve lived here my whole life!” After that light bulb lit up in my head, I made it a goal to explore my home town more during the summer and doing the school year. And that’s exactly what I’ve started to do. The first place was the aquarium and the next places on my list include Havasupai Falls, Cathedral Rock, and many others.
I chose to share this story with you to make you stop and think: How well do I know the ins and outs of my hometown? What would I recommend to tourists looking for things to do?
Feel free to share your thoughts below and any places you recommend visiting in your hometown! 🙂