Rediscovering your hometown

Sep 19, 2008 at 8:13 p.m. ET

Several weeks ago when I was unpacking from our vacation, I went to put away the travel guidebooks in the bookcase and saw one for the area in which we live. I'd forgotten about that book. It was a gift from a a friend several years ago and, really, a good one at that.

Mom and Son at Local Train Station
When my friend first gave me the guidebook, I admit I thought it an odd gift. I already live here, why do I need a guidebook? But then I started leafing through the book and I learned about a really interesting small museum nearby that has since become a family favorite. And a bakery, and, and, and...

Break out of your routine

How many of us get into such a routine at home that we forget (or forget to notice) some really special things about our home region. It becomes easy to stick to routine and/or claim boredom around what we do. I'm certainly guilty of that. But when you start to look around with fresh eyes, like a visitor to your region would do, it can open an even wider world in your own backyard.

Many guidebooks have sections or ways to identify particularly kid-friendly activities and businesses. From our initial use of the guidebook we learned about a kid-friendly restaurant not too far away, and about a yearly festival a couple towns over. We were reminded of some nice walking trails in our own town, too.

Commit to something new

It occurred to me upon finding the travel guide again that I needed it again. We're in a somewhat dull routine again, and need to find some new (or new to us) activities. I think it would be great if we could commit to trying one new thing in our area each month, and look to our guidebook for ideas.

That guidebook was an excellent gift, and it's a gift idea I've already put to use. I bought a new local guidebook and gave it to a friend for her birthday. Like me, she thought it an odd gift at first - but then she called me a couple of nights ago to thank me. She and her family had done something new and fun, no travel required.

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