Enhance your travel experience by seeking out a city’s hidden gems and unique local adventures. We boiled down a list of 15 ways to adventure locally, whether you’re traveling for work, moving to a new city, or just want to spice up your routine.
Over the past few months, GearJunkie traveled to six cities to put on events and go on as many local adventures as possible. In partnership with Eddie Bauer, the “Live Your Local Adventure Tour” challenged us to find adventure everywhere (even in Delaware!). Here are a few things we learned along the way.
1. Get Local Beta
Find a local bike or running shop, climbing gym, or independent gear shop and ask where they bike/run/climb/adventure in their city. Take their advice and go for it.
2. Print A Map
GearJunkie is a huge advocate for maps and exercise. Many of our staff adventures and workouts feature a map and route-finding. Print a map of the city and plot any number of random points on it. Then, head outside and run to each of the ‘checkpoints’ or rent a bike and navigate your way around the city.
3. Ditch The Map, Get Lost
We’re also huge advocates of saying goodbye to maps and navigating by good old-fashioned dead-reckoning. Landmarks help, and paying extra attention to one’s surroundings creates a sense of connection to the locality.
Also, who doesn’t have a great story about that one time they got lost?
4. Combine Sports
Our goal for Denver was to climb a 14er and go night skiing at a ski area in the same day. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough snow to accommodate skiing after returning from the mountain, but next time it’s a must for us.
Go for a swim on your run, bike to a fishing hole, or hike to a nearby climbing crag. Combining sports pushes your physical limits, is fun, and allows you to stay out exploring and adventuring longer.
5. Join Group Runs/Rides
This one requires a bit of research, but typically it’s pretty easy to find local running clubs or group bike rides in a city. Find one and just show up. You’ll meet great people and feel like you’re a part of the community
6. Catch The Sunrise
Yes, you have to get up early for this. But during your stay, find a highpoint that faces east and challenge yourself to get up in the morning to watch the sunrise. It’ll make your day and still give you enough time to make that corporate meeting. Pro tip: bring lots of coffee.
7. Embrace The Weather
Don’t let rain or snow keep you inside while traveling. Weather adds another dimension to your adventures, be it fat biking in a blizzard, trail running in the rain, or hiking on a below-freezing morning.
8. Join Niche, Local Group Events
After some research (try Facebook events near you), you’re likely to find a unique event going on in your area. In Minneapolis, there’s an Alleycat bike race every first Sunday night of the month. In Seattle, a local Orienteering group hosts navigation races throughout the year. Even if it’ll be your first time, organizations like these are typically welcoming of newbies and accommodate all types of abilities.
9. Workout Early
The November Project is a free fitness movement that has spread to over 30 cities worldwide. Whichever city you’re in, check to see if there’s a chapter around. We joined Seattle’s group on a sub-freezing Wednesday morning at 6:29 a.m. and had a blast. The workouts are usually a mix of cardio and bodyweight exercises done at your own pace.
10. Plan Less
Spontaneity almost always leads to a rad adventure and one heck of a story. Look around when you arrive at a city. Is there a big island you can circumnavigate, a mountain you can climb at whim, a crag you can explore, or a number of bridges you can run across?
11. Ditch The Tech
It’s easy to go for your typical 3-mile run at an 8-minute pace and be done. Ditch the headphones and GPS watch and be in touch with the city around you. Listen to the bustling traffic and run/bike without the worry of a specific pace or distance.
12. Get Creative
Think outside of the box and go on some unconventional adventures. Find a local park with a Frisbee golf course and go trail running on it. Buy a cheap inner tube and float a nearby river. Climb the foundations of a retired bridge.
13. Reward Yourself
At the end of every epic adventure day, we sat down for a beer and some wings. Get some friends or co-workers together, go on an adventure, and then kick it at the local bar. It’s a great time to recap stories, plan next adventures, and refuel.
14. Go Highpointing
Highpointing offers a fun and mostly accessible adventure in every state. Do a Google search for the highest point in the state you’re in and go ‘peak-bag’ it. Some will be easy (we just drove up to Delaware’s highpoint), but some require a decent hike and some navigation skills.
15. Visit The Green Spaces
Google Maps gives a great birds-eye view of nearby parks, reserves, recreation areas, etc. They’re highlighted in green and typically link to a website that details the available recreation opportunities. During your stay, visit all of the ‘green spaces’ in your city and do different adventures at each. Rent a kayak at one, rock climb in another, trail run, mountain bike, XC ski.
–GearJunkie recently completed the Live Your Local Adventure tour with Eddie Bauer. We traveled to 6 cities, hosted events, and went on a ton of local adventures. Read more about the tour here: Tour Inspiration and 10 Adventures around GearJunkie HQ.