a moment, letís imagine that Iíve never visited the place you
currently call home. If you were being honest, what would you
tell me are the things to do?
all know there are big things in different places. Awesome national
parks with incredible views. Theme parks with thrilling attractions,
electric parades and fireworks. Monuments and museums and shopping
and restaurant chains.
what about your neighborhood? Iím sure there are some treasures
are people that live in Orlando, New York and northern California.
They might recommend Disney World, the Statue of Liberty and Yosemite.
Someone in Savannah knows to point toward Mrs. Wilkes.
and I have been trying to find a reliable quality bakery within
thirty minutes of our home for decades. No such luck (and the
best one just outside of that range closed). But that doesnít
mean the local areas are completely void of fun things to do and
great places to visit.
parent with finicky eaters under the age of ten can explain why
national chains are popular. Itís the consistency of the menu.
You know you can walk through the doors, sit the child down, place
chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard sauce on the table
and the child will eat. Headache remedied.
you need a certain product, walking into a larger store with an
expanded inventory and brand names you recognize can be important
when you find yourself hundreds of miles away from home.
the reality of all this is that these places often miss the regional
charms. Sales get in the way of originality.
have this theory about tourist destination shopping plazas. You
might know the ones I mean. You park your car and walk along a
street lined with all sorts of shops bragging in some way about
being local. It seems to be a collection of small-town treasures.
But have you looked at the reality? Because thereís a pattern.
three doors offer something different, and then things begin to
repeat at door number four. First stop, discount baseball caps
and palm tree statues and cheap trinkets with stickers of the
cityís name placed on them. Second stop, a restaurant or shop,
and you pick up a bottle of water. Third shop, something amazingly
original, brilliantly designed stuff, and surprises on every shelf.
The fourth stop brings more t-shirts.
goal is to get into as many door number three stops as possible.
Unfortunately, the reality of travel and tourism dollars means
door number one inventories tend to survive with the best chances
side note, head to Florida. Pick any five cities or towns you
want, then find a store in each one that is set up to sell knickknacks
to visitors. Then head to San Diego and pick two more stores.
Iíd be willing to bet you could find the exact same cheap statue
of Santa holding a surfboard in every store. Only difference would
be that the surfboards in each store would be personalized with
the name of the town you were in.
I wanted to taste the authentic offerings of the region, do you
know a restaurant near you worth a referral?
your community known for waterfalls in the parks, gorgeous sunsets
over the beaches, or beautiful and well-maintained bike paths?
the history of the wooden roller coaster at the nearby amusement
not saying you have to know. You donít. But chances are good you
may be missing out on some wonderful unique opportunities. Get
outside and live a little. (And if you find a bakery, let me know.)