The BEST Way to Become a “Local” While Traveling!

One of my favorite parts of traveling was getting to live like a local for a short amount of time. We would stay in one place for at least 13 weeks – just long enough to get to know the area and enjoy all of the highlights of each town.

The BEST Way to Become a “Local” While Traveling!

I have discovered that the easiest way to acclimate to a new town is to shop where the locals shop. And I don’t mean clothes or shoe shopping, I mean grocery shopping! Not at the chain grocery store, but the good ol’ farmer’s market! Heading out to the local farmer’s market, is THE best way to explore the culture, food, attractions, and vibe of the city!

Whether you’re going to stock your fridge or fill your belly…or maybe a little bit of both!…the farmer’s market’s selection is usually quite eclectic. Depending on the supply and season you may or may not find everything you need, but you surely will find the best prices around and usually the most fresh options(which is essential when you’re making tasty dishes like this!)! When we were in Harrisburg, PA, my favorite place to shop was the WestShore Farmer’s Market. Fresh produce, fresh-off-the-farm meat and eggs, and local treats like my favorite, Zook’s pretzels! Seriously the best pretzel you will EVER eat!!  And I have the amazing “elote” vendors in San Luis Obispo to thank for their scrumptious combination of  lemon juice, mayo, paprika, chili, and Parmesan cheese slathered onto freshly roasted corn that I still recreate at home today! Sounds so odd, but believe, it’s to-die-for! When you look around, these are the things you see in all of the local’s hands! See what they are eating, find the vendor, and you’ll discover a cultural favorite!

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Smith Candies in WestShore Farmer’s Market
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Elote at the San Luis Obispo, CA Farmer’s Market
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Gigantic beets! So Yummy! San Luis Obispo, CA Farmer’s Market

The communal shopping and open air allows for a very casual, relaxed and inviting atmosphere that allows you to easily communicate with vendors and other shoppers alike.  I have received some of the best restaurant and attraction recommendations, just by chatting up with a cheese vendor! Yes, the internet is filled with so much valuable information, but not every mom-n-pop, hole in the wall place has a website…and if they have been put on Yelp, you know as well as I do that if it doesn’t have a review/description, you’re probably not going to visit. So ask the kettle corn popper where their favorite hangout spot is or the egg vendor what ice cream shop is a must visit!

Hit or miss, it will surely be an adventure by making your trip just a little bit different than the travel book you read!

Have you discovered any other ways to feel like a local while on vacation?

Lisa Curzon
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