When I was in college, I forced myself to discover new parts of Seattle by intentionally “getting lost” in my hometown. I would hop on a bus – any bus, and with barely any cash and no GPS, I would explore. I found some pretty awesome places, and tried some new things I would never have tried during my day to day routine; I made some new friends and got to know my hometown so much more than I ever had before.
Taking these trips, I think, was the first stepping-stone to exploring the world outside of where I lived. It allowed me to gain the confidence to try new experiences, and to be ok with being a little uncomfortable (or a lot). I started to realize that asking people for directions was ok, and that eating at restaurants I’d never been to before could turn out to be awesome. I started to look around me, instead of walking with tunnel vision to my next destination. I started noticing things.
It’s a pretty well known fact that Seattle runs in my veins. I’m madly in love with my city. I grew up going to Mariners games, rooting for the Sonics and eating Dick’s hamburgers. Rain storms are like lullabies to me. I am a Seattleite born and raised, but I still find adventures in my home city all the time. Because, contrary to popular opinion, being an adventurer doesn’t mean that you have to travel half way across the world in order to explore. More than likely there are stories, traditions and secret spots in your hometown that you’d never discover, unless you took the time to look for them.
And, you know what? A funny thing happens when you start to let the world show you it’s beauty. Yes, you start to see it differently, but you also begin to see yourself in a different light. You aren’t just a pedestrian anymore. You become a bird watcher, an architect, an art spectator, a food connoisseur, a friend to random strangers, a meteorologist, a cartographer, or a humanitarian. By opening yourself up to the beauty around you, you take part in a conversational exchange that allows you to enrich the world, while you, in turn, are enriched.
If you’re wondering where to start on your travel journey, get out and explore your own city! Not only will you be building skills that allow you to interact once you’re on your international adventures, but you’ll also appreciate so much more of the world you travel in by learning to appreciate the virtue of what is already around you. So get out there! Find some awesome somethings in your hometown and then share your stories with someone. Let’s encourage a culture of exploration – even if it’s within our own communities!
Here are five of my favorite places I’ve stumbled across in Seattle:
1. Waterfall Garden (Pioneer Square): Did you know that Seattle has a waterfall IN the city? Neither did I, until I started asking around and discovered this one! Not only is this mini slice of nature beautiful, but this is a great way to take a break from the noise of the busy city for a bit and just relax.
2. ReStyle for Ryther Thrift Shop (Ballard): Missing those good old fashioned thrift shop experiences. This little baby shop may be just the thing you’ve been looking for. I love this little shop with all my heart and it really is as “hole-in-the-wall” as you can get.
3. The Backdoor at Roxy’s (Fremont): A little bit more well known amongst the locals, but still an unmarked door in a dark parking lot. This is one of my absolute favorite bars. The atmosphere is 1920’s speak-easy and, from the murals to the amazing food, it really is a great place to just sit back and relax with friends.
4. Magus Books (University District): I’m such a sucker for old books. I love the smell, I love the feel of the pages. It’s all part of the experience. This is such a great used book store and one that I love visiting
5. Street Bean Coffee (Downtown): Favorite coffee shop for their rice milk hot cocoa. So many coffee shops only offer soy alternatives to dairy, that it was extremely refreshing to be able to order my drinks with rice milk. This coffee shop is special because they offer jobs to homeless/transitioning street youth and also host some of the best Open Mic nights around.
“Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” – Franz Kafka