Through many years of travel, I’ve seen my share of “big attractions.” I’m talking about the places that one can’t pass up when they visit a destination. Things like the Eiffel Tower, Tower of London, The Emperor’s Palace in Tokyo, and a multitude of other popular sights. You know, top 10 lists of attractions for a country.
While I still seek out important tourist draws, I noticed a few years ago that they usually don’t thrill me as much. Maybe they’re highly commercialized or just too overrun with other people, but I feel like I’ve built up a tolerance to them. It’s a bad drug analogy, but I imagine this is what it must feel like to be hooked on heroin and constantly need a bigger fix.
Living abroad in remote places (Namibia, a small village in Czech Republic, and to a certain degree Okinawa), I’ve become really good at finding funky local stuff. Friends even marvel how I track down new experiences after living for almost 3 years on a 65 mile island.
Dear readers, here are my tips for finding the offbeat.
1. Ask locals how they spend their time.
2. Wander down alleys in unfamiliar parts of town. I promise there’s good stuff waiting!
3. Don’t judge places by the outside. Be willing to go inside and see what they offer. I can’t even tell you how many gems I’ve found this way.
4. Look for restaurants and cafes with funny names like “Pink Dracula” or “Lollipop.” Come on, with a name like that, there’s got to be good eats!
5. Visit Local Farmer’s Markets, festivals, and community events. Often they have unique events going on, sure to draw lots of characters.
6. Follow the line of the people. Look where people are congregating and find out what’s happening.
7. Attend local sporting events, even children’s little league games. It’s fun to see what sportsmanship is like in other countries, and I always love to see what snacks get passed around.
8. Don’t be afraid to randomly try new things you wouldn’t ordinarily do.
Are you a fan of the big attractions or the quirky and sometimes bizarre when you travel? How do you get off the beaten track?