I live in the most magical place on earth. No, I do not live in Disney World. Or Disneyland. Or Tokyo Disneysea. Okay maybe I should have phrased that less iconically, but I positively adore the city of Edinburgh.
When we first moved here, we went adventuring every day, wandering down the tiny closes, wondering where does that go? But the inevitable happened: I get used to it. I might spend the day at home, or zombie about to the same places out of habit rather than excitement. Here’s what I do to keep that urban love alive.
Julie & Julia your way through a trusted guidebook to the city.
I love love love the Wallpaper*City Guides, and treat them like a Julia Childs cookbook, working my way through their lists of places to try. Their recommendations are design-centric, and often a bit off the beaten path (see the beautiful secret courtyard I discovered behind a London chippy!). I am obsessed with highlighting the places as I go to them.
My next stop for any city is the New York Times’s 36 Hours book, which provides a sample weekend itinerary. (For a sample day itinerary, see my Fit for a Heroine travel guides, written by fabulous locals!)
I’m also working my way through the Time Out Edinburgh Eating & Drinking Guide, and The Locals’ Guide to Edinburgh. There are so many more options, but I won’t let myself add to the collection until I exhaust these! Often the places that are left unticked are the ones that require going out of my geographic or personal comfort zone and therefore make the best adventures!
Keep a list of new places to go.
I use a page in the back of my Passion Planner to list all the places I want to try out. It’s my master list, combining the next few destinations from each of the books ^ with friends’ recommendations. I have to at least remember what the place is for it to go on this list, or I get overwhelmed.
Sign up for local mailing lists.
Figure out your favourite venues, and read up on the local publications!
I am subscribed to Groupon and itison for local offers. I scan their emails for anything already on my radar, plus it’s also a great way to glance at what [often random things] the city has going on. That’s how we discovered that indoor crazy golf was an option on a miserable winter weekend!
I also subscribe to my favourite arts venues (Summerhall, Traverse, Usher Hall, Filmhouse…) to be on top of their news. There are also print publications around the city for free, so I have a monthly browse through The Skinny and The List, picking up at least one new tip [or in the case of this month, a coupon, which I swiftly washi-taped to my planner ^].
Try new cafés.
Edinburgh has an abundance of cafés: hip, chic, boho, cat – you name it. Every Sunday I have a ritual of venturing to a new one while I do my reflecting and planning. I don’t need wifi for this, so it’s a good way to try out the atmosphere and see if it’s worth returning to, and for what occasion.
Have guests over.
There is nothing like playing tour guide to get you super psyched about your city. Show off your favourite spots and gain fresh appreciation for them by bouncing off your guests’ fresh enthusiasm for your lovely home.
When I’m feeling super organised, I keep sticky note lists of places to try with certain guests on their next visit ^.
Run a Culture Thursdays group!
My Culture Thursdays group, organised on Facebook, encourages my friends [and me] to go out and take advantage of what the city has to offer. There are so many events on, ranging from how-is-this-free to affordable to totally worth the investment. I budget ~£20 per month for this. We try to balance events between the arts (and sometimes sciences!). Some tried and true favourites: A Play, A Pie, and a Pint at the Traverse, free live music concerts at the National Portrait Gallery, and author events at Golden Hare Books. This month I’m looking forward to the Ghibli Festival at the Cameo!
My friend Caz started her own London-based version called Savoir Faire Sundays. Why not found a group for your city? You totally have my blessing.
I know I talk about Instagram a lot but it’s true. Develop a photographer’s eye and see the sights around you in a new light. Explore the hashtags dedicated to your city and discover some beautiful new places to explore!
As I write this, I am getting super psyched to go out and wander. I must have willed it into the universe, as the weather has shifted from light rain to heavy rain to hail, and now to sunshine. So when Edinburgh sounds a little too awesome, keep its neurotic weather patterns in mind ;)
P.S. see if there’s a travel guide fit for a heroine for your city!