A Little Tourist…Home Through the Eyes of a Traveler

I didn’t know that the Hollywood Walk of Fame concept extended to RockWalk of Fame at the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard.

RockWall Guitar Center Hollywood

Right there in front of the doors to the Guitar Center are the hand prints of rock legends, icons of the music industry who left an imprint on the world with their music and were asked to leave an imprint in the concrete to solidify their presence for the coming generations. And I never knew it existed.

When I passed through LA in June for a friend’s wedding I found myself casually walking down Los Angeles’ Sunset Blvd in the building afternoon heat, sweating, my hat and sun glasses in place and my eyes scanning building names and architecture. I smiled at strangers and took long looks at all of the characters strutting, hobbling, clicking, and jogging by as I meandered down the sidewalk.

Movie in Bryant Park

Movie in Bryant Park, NYC

This was the first time that I had ever walked Sunset without an immediate purpose. Though I toiled through two long years in the city, I never walked through Hollywood unless parking was impossible… and then it was an inconvenience so I spent my days rushing past the buildings, ignoring others and using my pre-printed Google with my exact destination.

It took a year an a half for my travel eyes to apply to the US but I discovered on my summer tour from California to New York City, Washington DC, and Florida that I have fresh eyes on my former homes. Fresh eyes on the cities I once thought I knew just because I could drive the roads with familiarity and find my nearest supermarket with ease.

For the first time, I approached Los Angeles, Orlando, St. Pete, and others with a mind toward traveling through them just like I travel foreign cities all over the world.

I walked everywhere.

Or rode a bike.

I stopped and asked for directions rather than printing a map.

I carried my camera and looked around for the visually appealing; the neat; the weird.

I tried new restaurants.

I entered shops and chatted up the sales clerks.

I asked for discounts at inappropriate times and bargained in appropriate places.

I smiled at the actors moonlighting as superheroes on the touristy part of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and wondered about their stories – their goals – why they chose this job.

I traveled through Los Angeles and found a new coffee shop (that isn’t a Starbucks!).

I traveled through Orlando and a friend showed me the best vegan and vegetarian eats I somehow missed in college.

I traveled through St. Petersburg and rented jet skis with my Florida friends for the first time ever, ending the day with lunch at a local fish shop I’d never seen before, even though I lived in St. Pete for more than 18 years.

I simply continued my travels even though I was home.

Give it a try! What are your home touristy experiences? Do any of the above tips and you’re bound to discover something you never knew existed right around the corner from your house :-)

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16 Responses to A Little Tourist…Home Through the Eyes of a Traveler

  1. SoloFriendly August 19, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    These are great ideas, Shannon! I think we all become blind to the charms of our hometowns after awhile.

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

      Too true, it's easy to accept a hometown begrudgingly when really they have
      a lot more to offer us than the grocery store we frequent ever week :-)

  2. Johanna Voss August 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    Shannon-I have been viewing Boston and Cape Cod, near where my parents live, with a totally different perspective since our trip RTW for 11 months. It’s been awesome to be a tourist in my own town. The city seems cleaner, the people nicer and the weather fantastic. It is so much fun and my photos are great. Just recently re-walked the Freedom Trail with friends and had a blast.

  3. adventurerob August 19, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    That rock star walk looks awesome!

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

      I thought so too! I couldn't believe I had driven by so many times and never
      known it was there! No tourists really go there much so it's easy to miss
      :-)

  4. Maria August 19, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Your post is so true! It's great to discover things in your own home town that you never really saw before. And like Claire said, it usually takes a visit from out-of-town friends before you notice things.

  5. Maria August 19, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Your post is so true! It's great to discover things in your own home town that you never really saw before. And like Claire said, it usually takes a visit from out-of-town friends before you notice things.

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      The out-of-towners def help, I think that not having a car to use this time
      around really altered the experience too…I couldn't just hop over to
      friends whenever I want, I had to ride my bike, which led to a lot more
      exploring!

  6. Claire August 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    It took a visit from out-of-town friends to point out how beautiful my hometown is before I really started appreciating it!

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

      That will definitely do it! I have invited so many people on my travels to
      come visit that it wasn't until this visit home that I actually discovered
      some of the things I would do with them if they ever take me up on the
      offer! :-)

  7. wanderingearl August 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    This post makes me wonder how much I missed out on during my last trip back to the US! It's excellent that you're now able to see 'home' through your traveler's eyes…clearly it makes a difference and changes the entire meaning of a trip home.

    It's too easy to just break into a “I already know this place” kind of mentality when we are home and that leads us to not only avoid trying anything new, but keeping our eyes out for new things as well.

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

      I think the fact that I didn't have a car to use this time around really
      forced me to look at the city different, it was actually a lot of fun – part
      of it was also being able to explore and see it all as an adult, I left my
      hometown at 18 for college and everything after that was a lot more sporadic
      and focused on visit family rather than places! :-) You have some work cut
      out for you next time you venture home!

  8. Amy @ The Q Family August 18, 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    So true! Traveling opens up my mind and my perception. Having a travel blog pushes me to travel in a different way than I have been before.

    I giggle at your observation on the Hollywood Walk of Fame actors in superheroes costumes. We were one of their customer. :)

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

      And as you should have been with the two little ones! When my nephew came
      out to LA to visit he nearly had a heart attack at seeing Spiderman in real
      life…my only beef with that was, we were driving away later and the actor
      was walking home without his mask on but still had on the rest of the
      costume – my nephew said “Wow, look, it's Peter Parker!” :-) Kids def make
      LA more fun :-)

  9. Elle August 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    My city doesn't have much to offer tourism wise. However, from time to time I'll go downtown with my camera and snap some pictures of the downtown skyline and random buildings. My favorite touristy thing to do here is to visit our Budweiser Brewery. It's a free tour and you get 2 free beers at the end. Winner!

    • ShannonOD August 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      I like your style! You can't complain about 2 free beers – as for your
      city…it can be tough in some areas, my hometown has the beach, which is
      the only thing going for it because it's mostly a retirement community! :-)

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