How to be a Tourist in Your Own City

August 10, 2020

Meghan Donovan in a Linen JCrew Shift Dress I wit & whimsy

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment last month when, whilst lamenting a summer devoid of trips or vacations, that I could actually take advantage of this supplemental time in New York City and be a tourist in my own backyard.

Meghan Donovan in a Linen JCrew Shift Dress I wit & whimsy

Meghan Donovan in a Linen JCrew Shift Dress I wit & whimsy

Staud Bag + Scarf

Meghan Donovan in a Linen JCrew Shift Dress I wit & whimsy

Meghan Donovan in a Linen JCrew Shift Dress I wit & whimsy

As I began to share my adventures on Instagram – walking the Brooklyn Bridge for frozen drinks in the South Street Seaport and taking the ferry to Red Hook for one of the city’s best lobster rolls – I got a lot of DMs along the lines of “you’re so inspiring with how you get out and do adventures! Any advice on how to do so?” I guess I’ve traveled alone so much that I hadn’t thought much of the activity of solo adventures all that much.

But what I realized is what I’m doing in NYC this summer is how I treat many of my solo trips or trips with friends. It involves plotting out what I want to do and then prioritizing supplemental activities.

So for example when I decided I wanted to finally try Red Hook Lobster Pound in Red Hook, Brooklyn I didn’t just go to eat the lobster roll and come home. Instead I pulled up Google Maps and explored the area virtually. I then looked at what The Infatuation had to say about the best places to eat and drink. I saved things on Google Maps that I may want to see/eat/do/drink while I was in the neighborhood. I also determined that I’d ride the ferry there and then CitiBike home. In all the planning took me no more than 30 minutes for this adventure and was about a 3 hour endeavor one Saturday in July.

This is the same way I plan a lot of my trips. I determined what neighborhood (or neighborhoods) I want to spend my time in and then I dig into the research. What’s the best coffee shop? What’s the best bakery? Where should I have lunch? Where might I want to grab a drink? Is there a park I can read a few pages in? What do I want to take photographs of in the neighborhood? I ask myself all these questions and then begin saving spots on Google maps so that as I walk around I know where I want to pop into.

Other pieces of advice? Don’t try to do too much and also leave some room for surprise and delight of what you end up discovering while exploring a new place. I think this summer truly is the perfect opportunity to get out and explore safely and do things we may never have done or go back to places we want to know better.

I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to do this – especially this year when we’ve all become so conditioned to staying close to home – but I think the most important thing is to just get up and go. Plan with a friend who you can safely socially distance with or just go solo as I do so often. There’s no time like the present (hasn’t 2020 been such a reminder of this?) and sometimes solo adventures are my favorite!

For me, I now am planning to take advantage of New York City with next to no tourists. I am taking the ferry to different neighborhoods (Greenpoint and The Rockaways are on my list!) and also want to go to The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and The Met as they open back up to New Yorkers. I’m also seeing which of these items I can tick off in the city, too!

 . . .

J.Crew Linen Shift (comes in multiple colors – size Medium; my friend Carly also just wore it here!) // Rothy’s Knot Sandals // Staud Bag (last seen here) // Cuyana Scarf

p.s. even more linen pieces I love and ways to have a great summer even when staying home.

[Pret a Provost Photography]

comments +

  1. GF says:

    love this approach to being a tourist in your own city! I’ve fled to the suburbs for now, but being a tourist in nyc is one of my fave parts of living in nyc. question, how comfortable have you found the rothys sandals to be? debating a purchase but haven’t seen much chatter in the way of reviews!

  2. Melanie says:

    OMG! I love this so much! I just did a ton of new activities and tried new restaurants this weekend in Chicago (where I live) and have been loving it. Seeing the city in a new lens. Thanks for sharing.

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