How to Explore Your City Like a Local as an Introvert

An introvert explores her town

There are several introvert-friendly ways to explore your city like a local — whether you just moved or want to get to know it better.

Sometimes, the last thing you want to do is make yet another decision. Even fun decisions, like what you’ll do on your day off, may seem like too much. Whether you’re overstimulated, have an “introvert hangover,” or just plain tired, sometimes it’s easier to stay home.

Though there’s nothing wrong with spending time at home, sometimes you’re yearning to go out. Maybe you’re worried about COVID-19-related isolation: Multiple studies have suggested that prolonged lockdowns and loneliness, though necessary to curb the virus, may have adverse effects on brain health

Or perhaps you’re worried about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), when fewer daylight hours can lead people “to feel ‘down’” or depressed

Or maybe you just want to go have some fun. But let’s say you’re new in town — where should you go? What should you do?

Even if you’re not new in town, perhaps, this time, you don’t just want to go to your favorite places in town — you want to go someplace new. 

This can be hard, as we introverts love our daily rituals and routines. But there are several introvert-friendly ways to explore your new town or city — or your existing one with fresh eyes. Here are six ways to do so.

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6 Ways to Explore Your City Like a Local as an Introvert 

1. See what’s seasonal, like unique holiday events.

This could include a variety of things, ranging from season-specific events to local specialities. In the late fall and early winter, you’ll find a lot of end-of-year events, like holiday craft fairs, light shows, Santa meet-and-greets, holiday concerts or caroling, and New Year’s Eve parties.

That said, those events aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking for something more sedate — or more secular — one place to check is your local library. Most events are free and open to the public. (Plus, show me an introvert who doesn’t like the library!)

Some library events may require library cards, but many require only a driver’s license or a piece of mail to prove your residency, which makes the barrier to entry relatively low. This is doubly helpful: Not only is the event easy to access, but you also won’t have to worry about beating yourself up if you don’t enjoy the event.

Another great place to check is your town’s continuing education classes. These are often affordable ways to try out something new, like painting, dancing, writing, learning a new language, or how to play an instrument, without having to travel far.

If your town’s selection is lackluster, try the surrounding towns, as well. You do not typically need to be a resident of a particular town in order to attend their classes.

If your town is large enough to have its own subreddit, this could be another place to check out what’s happening around town.

Classes and events can be fun, but they can also be overstimulating — and rely on dreaded small talk and chit-chat. If you’re looking for something with less talking and more action, many sports play throughout the year, in different seasons (such as ultimate frisbee, which is often split into summer, fall, and winter leagues). If you want to get back into a sport, or want to try a new one, this could be a great place to start! Look for social leagues, too. These are often cheaper than more competitive leagues, and they often welcome casual players and/or beginners.

2. Check out local specialties — think California and surfing.

Some areas are known for certain activities. Think California and sunshine (or surfing!), or Florida and Disney World (and the beautiful beaches!).

This may sound basic, but exploring what your (new) town is known for is a great way to get a feel for the area. Even better, when an activity is popular, there are often numerous ways (and chances) to try it out. It’s the difference between clearing your schedule because you’re visiting the beach on August 1 vs. a summer-long pass to a local beach, which you can enjoy at any time over the summer. This way, there’s a lot less pressure to make it to one specific event!

In New England, for example, a lot of people ski or snowboard in the winter. Outdoor ice skating becomes possible in the colder weather, and some skating rinks start indoor hockey leagues. Those activities are replaced by warm-weather fun when the temperatures change, which gives you a whole new set of activities to try out.

And, who knows? You just might make a friend who’s also exploring local specialities!

3. Look for introductory packages and discounts.

Speaking of trying new things, what better way to do so than at a discounted price?

If your apartment complex, library, coffee shop, or grocery store has an events board, check it out and see what’s on there. You just might find an introductory package for something interesting, or a discounted fee for new members. (Think gyms and sports clubs.)

Online, sites like Groupon are a good way to explore local businesses and their offerings without committing to a full season, year, or price. Once you’ve chosen an activity (say, for example, ballroom dance), check out the dance studio’s website to see if the business itself offers a discount that isn’t available anywhere else.

Introductory packages are great, because new customers will often be grouped together. If you’re looking to make new friends, your fellow dancers may also be new to dance or new to the area. This way, you’ll already have a lot in common and plenty of things to talk about.

My partner once tried curling because he saw a flier. He didn’t fall in love with it, and he decided not to continue, but it was fun to try, and he was able to do so without breaking the bank or committing to a six-month membership.

4. Look for events and organizations related to your current interests.

Trying new things can be fun, but sometimes it’s easier to go out when you know you’ll be doing something you already enjoy.

Whether you’re looking at a local events board, or searching on Google, look for events that pertain to your current interests and hobbies, or to an aspect of your identity. On a Google search, try “comic cons near me” or “Latin festivals nearby” or “LGBTQ+ events in [town name]”. Try concerts, plays, film festivals, art shows, cultural festivals, food trucks, and local fairs, too!

Different areas have different demographics, so your new town may have different events and organizations than you’re used to. Even if this is the case, events such as Pride or Latin Fest will likely have upcoming dates available a few months in advance, so if you want to go, you can plan ahead.

Using the same search formula, you can also look for organizations, such as your local Pride center. Then, once you’ve identified an organization, you can check out their website or social media to see if they’re hosting any upcoming groups or events.

5. Read local publications, the more specific, the better.

This one isn’t just for the city folk! Though many small-town newspapers have folded entirely or moved online, the ones that remain are a great resource for local information.

Think journalism: Check out your local or regional newspaper, and see if your area has any town, county, regional, or state magazines. Most newspaper titles clearly reveal the region they service (such as Missouri’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch), but magazine titles can be a little more vague. Northwest Travel & Life covers the American northwest, which is clear enough, but New England’s Yankee Magazine might not appear relevant, at first glance. Sometimes, you can’t judge a magazine by its title!

Local publications such as these can be especially helpful when you aren’t familiar with an area, because they often contain ads for upcoming events, seasonal specialities, and popular, local pastimes. They may also turn up different results than a Google or Instagram search. Even if you don’t find anything particularly interesting, at least you’ll know what’s around.

Newspapers and magazines are often sold at grocery stores, gas stations, book stores, and convenience stores. Another great place to check is the local library, which may subscribe to some of these resources.

6. As much as possible, get in a tourist mindset.

When you’re familiar with a place, it’s easy to choose where you want to go. You have favorites and least favorites — you know the venues to avoid and the ones with the best ambiance. But when you don’t know an area, it’s nearly impossible, especially if you live in or near a city, where the options may seem endless.

One way to get familiar with your new (or existing) place is to check it out like a tourist.

Many major cities and towns have their own tourism sites, but even small towns will likely have Yelp reviews for local businesses and attractions. Use these to find the names of a few places you might like to visit. Look for your favorite restaurant type (“Japanese food [town name]”) and some of your favorite activities (introvert-friendly ones or not), whether they’re hiking trails, museums, botanical gardens, historical sites, amusement parks, adventure parks, or tours.

If you visit one or two of these sites each month, you just might start to feel at home. At the very least, you’ll get a better feel for your city — and who knows what adventures you’ll have along the way.

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