Visit Your City
Over the last several weeks I have written a variety of articles on independence and mobility, exploring ways seniors can physically and mentally retain a measure of independence. Those topics have certainly not been exhausted, but I’m guessing a few of you may be exhausted reading about that particular subject. Well, I’ve some good news, today I’m writing on a different topic.
Several summers ago, I was afforded the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, visiting several countries and living with a family in Italy. The next summer I traveled with a group from college to Mexico, living with families and absorbing the culture. I definitely desire to travel more.
Though I hope to travel more abroad, today I’m writing about “traveling locally”. Many seniors have no desire, energy or means to travel abroad. That said, I wonder how many of us truly “know” our city? What do you know about its history? Culture? Heritage? To explore art, history or culture, you don’t necessarily have to travel abroad. You can do that in your own backyard. Below are some ideas seniors can use to explore locally, revisiting familiar places or going to different venues. You might refer to some of this as “rut breaking”, stretching yourself and breaking the routine.
Take a Bus Tour
This is a relatively cheap, headache-free course of action seniors can take for seeing all or parts of the city. One company here offers more than thirty different tours in and around the city. Tours include hike and bike trails, shopping excursions and downtown sites, something for everyone. If you choose to go sightseeing on a bus, and what I recommend for most seniors, it’s a relaxing way to see to see your city, complete with tour guide.
Plan a trip to visit one or more museums. Visit the zoo, planetarium or an art gallery. Tour historic homes, sports arenas, restaurants, parks or even a hospital. Houston has the world’s largest medical center (over one million square feet) and for $10 you can take a walking tour. There are many places to visit, just pick one.
Spend the Night
A nice change of pace may be to spend the night or weekend at a historic hotel or bed and breakfast. Many of these places will include a package including tours of the city or other activities. This could be an inexpensive way for seniors to be active, enjoy a different pace and not fight jetlag.
A Different Restaurant
Instead of your usual steakhouse, try one you’ve never been to or eat at an ethnic eatery, perhaps a Thai or African restaurant. In a city like Houston, the choices are mind-boggling. This is another great way seniors can inexpensively experience a different culture.
There are probably dozens of historic places to visit in your city. Here in Houston, there’s the Astrodome, old city park, bayou bend, the former home of Ms. Ima Hogg, and nearby landmarks including the Battleship Texas, San Jacinto Monument, and NASA. I’m sure your city or town has similar landmarks. When I worked one-on-one with seniors, the majority liked visiting these sites, enjoying the history and culture.
Even if you live in a smaller town or rural area, there are still places to visit. For example, last weekend I had to drive to East Texas for a family event. Along the highway, I saw several plaques for historic landmarks. Several of the towns also had buildings with the same designation. Most smaller communities also have museums and other cultural outlets. So, whether you’re in a bulging metropolis or smaller community, there is no excuse to not make the effort to find and visit something of historic or cultural value.
If you’re able to, why not get in the car with a group of friends and just drive down a favorite street, looking at houses or flowers. Nothing wrong with an hour or two of seeing the sights, be it gardens, homes, or parks. Even in rural areas, just driving in the country can be fun and relaxing.
I’m exhausted just from sharing these ideas, and I haven’t even left my computer. As you can see, there is a lot to do locally without crossing time zones or gulping pills like Dramamine or Nauzene. Traveling locally is great for seniors on a budget who still have energy and want to get out. My suggestions are just a stimulus, there are countless other ideas for exploring your hometown. Choose one or several. Just be sure to have fun.