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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

As we roll into summer you may be returning home from school, and maybe you’ve got plans to have friends from college come visit you, possibly for the first time. As a local, you have the opportunity to put together an incredible itinerary, one that strikes the perfect balance of showing off your town’s greatest hits and letting your friends in on those local secrets only you know. Here’s a list of 10 tips to dazzle your friends when they come to town, and make sure they have an awesome time none of you will forget.

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Revisit your city’s museums

When was the last time you were at any of your local museums? Was it 5 years ago? Maybe 10? Did you have a chaperone, or were you dragged there by your parents? It’s time to go again, as an adult, and take your friends. Museums are constantly shifting environments that offer new exhibitions regularly. That said, you’re never too old for dinosaurs and masterpieces. Your museum may both surprise you and allow you to revisit your childhood, as you guide your friends around. You can even book advance, skip-the-line tickets for many museums at Cheaptickets.com/Activities.

Don’t be a snob—show them the tourist spots, too!

Golden Gate Bridge

We know you’ve seen it 100 times, but can you remember the first time you walked over that stunning bridge in town, or the last time you took a local history tour or spent an afternoon in that beautiful city park? Or perhaps you live in a smaller town with stunning backdrops of mountain scenery or calm rustling woodlands. Imagine your friends seeing these sights for the first time. When putting together an itinerary, think of tourist attractions that express the uniqueness of where you live and represent its authentic character. This can be through artistic expressions that can’t be replicated, or stunning architecture, cuisine or music, perhaps combined with just the perfect amount of grit to keep your attention.

Indulge them in that iconic food that bores you

View of a Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

While Chicago deep dish pizza may not be what local folks actually eat on a regular basis—it’s a pound of cheese and sauce, after all—it is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else in America. So what’s not to like? Food is a representation of culture; discovering the local cuisine puts you in touch with neighborhoods and the people who live there. Having a local guide, such as yourself, can change a traveler’s experience. So feed your friends that Philly cheese steak or San Francisco burrito or Maine lobster roll, but go where the locals go.

Try something new together

Have you always meant to check out that one famous jazz club in town, tour that architectural wonder of a building, or hike up to that one viewpoint overlooking the city? Perhaps there’s a gimmicky bar down your street that you always thought looked fun, but you never went to because “that place is for tourists.” Having friends visit is the perfect excuse to go full tourist mode. Finally stand in line for that one food you suspect may be overrated. Check out that one weird museum or the limited-time exhibition that is in town. No matter where you grew up, it’s unlikely you’ve done everything there is to do. This is a chance for you and your guests to share a new experience together.

Sprinkle in some local spots that tourists wouldn’t know

Depending on where you live, “Locals only!” and “Tourists go home” may be phrases you’ve heard as a traveler. Indeed, having a bunch of influencers blow up all the big spots around your town are valid reasons to avoid them at all costs. But think about how much more of an authentic and intimate experience it truly is as a traveler when you discover those hidden locations that no one else knows about, whether it’s a lesser known bar ,or a hidden beach, or viewpoint of the city. Those are the memories that stick with you after your journey. Now you can provide your friend with those experiences and give them the blessing that they are not just another obnoxious visitor.

Book a hotel or vacation rental in a new-to-you part of town

Sure, you could stay with your parents, or cram everybody into your tiny apartment. But you’d have so much more fun if you sprung for a hotel (no need to break the bank—CheapTickets always has great hotels going) that puts you in the heart of action. Or you could opt for a vacation rental (just click the Private vacation home filter to search the latter) that places you in a different neighborhood, so you can explore and broaden your view on the city you live in, too.  If you grew up in a big city it is quite likely there are sections you’ve never seen. Spend a few nights there. Immerse yourself as you explore the nooks and crannies and you will all see your town in a new light.

Check out the local sports scene

Blurred image of fans and athletes in packed baseball arena

Unless you’re a huge sports fan, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen your local team in a while. Whether it’s major league baseball, semiprofessional basketball, college football, or something more regional like bull riding, local sports scenes are points of pride for towns and cities across the country. Sports stadiums are distinctive landmarks in many cities (think Fenway Park in Boston or Chicago’s Wrigley Field), and cheering fans, steamed hot dogs, and cold beers almost guarantee a good time. A game could be the perfect way to introduce your guests to your town and get them feeling the local spirit. The cheers of the crowd or even listening to disgruntled jaded fans offers a unique taste of local atmosphere.

Keep them out late!

Stock photo of two asian alternative girls with pink and green hair, sitting in a diner inside taking a selfie smiling.

Your hometown may only have a few grungy townie bars, or maybe it offers a wide array of clubs and music venues. Regardless, live music and nightlife are key to intermingling with the locals. Watch a local band play at some cramped bar or sit on a bustling patio, sampling late night food while knocking back craft beer. All of this can really sell your college friends on where you grew up. Finally, walk underneath streetlights through crowded bar-lined avenues or down quiet residential streets in the early hours of the morning, with a warm fuzzy feeling. Your friends’ visit will truly feel complete.

See what’s new

If you’ve been away at college (or just haven’t been paying close attention), you might discover that your city’s got some great new attractions worth checking out. This could be an interesting new park, hot new restaurant, cool new bar, beautiful new trail, whatever. Play the tourist for a minute and start researching what’s new before your friends arrive.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Tips & advice

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