A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog.
When my husband and I first met in 2009, I was writing a manuscript set in New York City—primarily in and around the subway system. The first summer we were dating, I convinced him to go on several research trips with me. We visited the NYC Transit Museum. We rode the A train all the way out to Far Rockaway, across Jamaica Bay to a beachy strip of land you can hardly believe is still part of NYC. We even toured the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, an abandoned underground railway tunnel that is unfortunately no longer open to the public. (We had to enter through a manhole in the middle of one of Brooklyn's busiest streets—best date ever, right?)
On those trips, I got the information I was looking for to enhance my manuscript. I learned more about the city I'd fallen head over heels with since moving here in 2004. But best of all, my husband and I started a tradition that has only grown over the past eight years. At the start of each summer, we come up with a list of "adventures" we want to go on together. We choose tourist attractions and unusual spaces within the five boroughs that we've never visited: museums, parks, monuments, skyscrapers, oddball hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants, and much more. We've gone to the top of the Empire State Building; walked around the botanic gardens in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island; ridden the roller coasters and eaten hot dogs (and watched the Mermaid Parade) at Coney Island; admired medieval art and tapestries at The Cloisters; taken walking tours of Manhattan's Lower East Side and the Financial District; visited the historic Tenement Museum and the U.S.S Intrepid—the list goes on and on.
This summer, things are a little different: there's a third person to take into account, and she's not quite ready to adventure alongside us just yet! But for the past few months, I've been rewriting the same magical NYC manuscript that started this whole thing, so there are definitely adventures on the horizon. I'm ready to strap on my baby-wrap and explore this fantastic city, with the two people I love most by my side.
Here's my dare to you: Go on an adventure in your hometown or local region. Is there a museum or historical site in your area that you've been meaning to check out? Find the time. Have you heard about a beautiful nature trail in a nearby national park? Strap on your hiking boots. Don't let the day-to-day routine of living somewhere keep you from discovering everything that's unusual and fascinating and magical about your home. Go on an adventure. If you're a writer or other type of creator, you can't help but be inspired. And even if you're not, you're in for a fascinating experience.
Tell me about the hometown adventure you want to take—or one you recently took—in the comments! While I'm home taking care of my newborn, I'll live vicariously through you!