For anyone wondering, I love Lancaster, Pennsylvania! If my incessant Instagrams of our lovely little city isn't enough to make my point clear, here goes... I feel so proud of our hard working entrepreneurial spirit, our gorgeous old homes, our excitement for small businesses and family owned restaurants. Lancaster is honestly one of my favorite places in the world, and I feel so proud to call it my home.
Having your good old standby hole-in-the-wall restaurants, book stores and quirky gift shops recommendations is one amazing perk of being a local. Being able to welcome strangers or dear friends from out of town with a great list of things to do or see is one of my favorite things to do. I find myself listing off my favorite spots to friends (and strangers alike!) who are in for the weekend, or even an afternoon or two. I'm always so excited to list off the best places for coffee or a scoop of ice cream, but it certainly does get repetitive! Hence, why having a handy city guide to hand to guests or to leave by the bedside for friends staying in town is a great way to welcome them into your beloved home city.
Here are some tips for creating your own city guide!
MAKE A MASTER LIST
From your go-to pizza place, to your favorite hole in the wall bookstores... list everything out. No need for organization. The first step is always to make a master list of your absolute favorites. You are the guru, so go crazy! Favorite historic monuments, pizza shops, bookstores, thrift shops, pretty blocks you love to walk down, your favorite houses or architectural buildings, your favorite ice cream shops, sweets, multicultural restaurants... just start that list, baby!
TIP: One thing I did that helped a lot was keeping a master list on my notes on my phone. Every now and then, when inspiration would strike or I left an absolutely fabulous meal, I would add another favorite or discovery to add to my city guide later on.
SECTION IT BY UNIQUE CATEGORIES
Think like a stranger in your city. What are some unique experiences they should have while they explore? Some ideas might be:
- THE SWEET TOOTH - a list all your favorite ice cream shops, sweet shops, coffee spots and more
- THRIFTY FINDS - a list of thrift shops, oddity stores and unique gift shops
- AN INSTAGRAMMER'S GUIDE- a list your most "instagrammable" spots
- THE BOOKWORM - a list of bookstores, libraries and cafes perfect for writing/reading
- SHOP SMALL - a list of family owned shops, restaurants and more
- WANNA WORKOUT - a list of gyms, great places to run, hiking trails and more
CHOOSE A SMALLER SIZE
One haphazardly genius idea I made while creating my city guide was to print it in a small, handheld size. (I printed mine when Artifact Uprising was having a great sale!)
Printing your guide in a smaller size allows your guests to pop it into their bag or purse while they explore your city. I mean seriously, how many times have you found yourself out on the town wondering "wait, what was that restaurant she said had great drinks?"... I know I'm not the only forgetful one. Having a transportable city guide to sift through while out and about is a serious lifesaver. So, print small and see how happy your guests will be later!
MAKE A LOOSE SCHEDULE FOR GUESTS
Another great idea is to create some schedules for your guests to loosely follow. Don't feel like you're imposing... guests love to be given a highlight reel of their destination! Some ideas could be:
- A QUIET MORNING - a schedule of slow, peaceful morning activities like your favorite coffeeshop, a visit to your library, a walk around your favorite couple of blocks
- A BUSTLING BRUNCH - a more high paced schedule of your favorite brunch options, a couple of shops to stop by and maybe even a great rooftop bar to wash it all down
- PIZZA CRAWL - one of my favorite schedules, a pizza extravaganza filled with your favorite pizza joints (you could also change this to whatever treat/meal your city does best!)
- AN AFTERNOON WINDOW SHOPPING - a schedule of shopping spots that are not to be missed, from kitchen knick knacks to shoes to women's clothing and more
- EXPLORING ______ NEIGHBORHOOD - choose your favorite neighborhood (or even a couple blocks of your town) and make a loose schedule of must-do's in the area
- A HISTORICAL AFTERNOON - a schedule of your town's most historical finds
BE CHOOSEY WITH YOUR IMAGES
When deciding which photos to include in your city guide... be picky! Because you'll be filling your pages with lots of written content, be sure to take the time to capture photos that truly emulate the mood/feel of your town. Whether it's a picture of you exploring and kicking up crunchy, fallen leaves, or a still shot of your bustling city square... ask yourself, how does this show the absolute best of my city?
Collage your favorite images, choose the best images to print on a full, empty page and have fun with it!
SHOW THE LOVE
What you love most about your city? It's a hard question, but it brings the best answers. Write down a paragraph or two explaining your love for your town. By including a simple closing thought or two about your city, your guests will be feeling the love and totally inspired to discover the best of what's around!
More than anything, making a city guide is a great exercise in appreciation. After making my city guide for Lancaster, I found myself feeling even more grateful to live in such an amazing place. And I'm positive you'll feel the same after making your own as well!