Adventure is what you make of it.
I live in the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City, which is considered very “up and coming.” Right now it’s clear that the area has a gritty past that it’s slowly trying to forget.
There are a lot of warehouse spaces housing artist galleries and movie studios, as well as construction fences hiding soon-to-be luxury rentals. Many of the buildings feature long, brick, windowless facades. Others have metal fences and decades-old graffiti. To an outsider it probably looks like I live in the middle of a wasteland.
But, just like what happened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn ten years ago, new cafes and shops are opening every month in my area. Smart entrepreneurs with their fingers on the pulse are noticing the inevitable LIC population boom over the next five years are starting to open up new stores. We got a Dunkin Donuts last fall, for gosh sake’s! My beloved neighborhood is getting ‘noticed.”
So after a long, cold winter of staying inside, I felt it was important to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement this weekend. After many months of staying indoors, I knew there would be a lot of new nooks to discover. I decided to be a tourist in my own neighborhood.
And guess what? My only out of pocket expense was the price of pancakes.
Here’s what I did:
- Started the day with blueberry pancakes at Court Square Diner – yum!
- Walked past many warehouse-looking buildings to find a hidden Panini cafe
- Strolled down a long alleyway towards the water, only to find that there are two waterfront restaurants at the end! Then noted that I’d have to go back and try them both some evening – Water’s Edege Restaurant and Catering and Anable Basin Sailing Bar & Grill
- Meandered through the quirky knickknacks and tasty food stalls at LIC Flea Market
- Stumbled upon a Fine Arts School in a beat-up old building and contemplated signing up for painting classes later this summer when it fits in my budget
- Scoped out the young families and active soccer leagues enjoying the day at the local park (John F. Murray Playground)
- Glided down the beautiful, tree lined block of historic NYC brownstones on 45th Avenue
FOUND A LIBRARY ONLY TWO BLOCKS FROM OUR APARTMENT! (what!?!? How did I not know that existed before!?)
- Walked through a small Sycamore grove outside of the Long Island City Courthouse and Citibank building at One Court Square
The fact that I was able to explore so many picturesque areas and discover new establishments while walking around my neighborhood for two hours gave me the idea that you can be a tourist anywhere. If you live in a small town, just go to the next town down the road and walk around! If you live near nature, go find a trailhead! If you live in a big city, explore your own neighborhood – or another that you’ve been dying to see! You don’t have to book a trip to Mumbai just to escape the mundane and experience meaningful travel.
First and foremost, if you’re on a budget and have a hankering for a new experience, try walking around your ‘hood. Sometimes all you need are your walking shoes and a little sunshine to find what you’re looking for.
Later this summer, expect to see a few more posts about NYC neighborhoods as I become a tourist in my own town. Hope you stay tuned!