How to Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard
Whether you’re exploring a new recipe, a new city, or your own backyard, may you always be finding home.
Sometimes the best way to understand what you love most about your hometown is to leave it. You know that feeling you get when you return from a trip and look out the window of the plane or the car and notice a charming building, a secret side street, or little park you’ve never seen before? It’s like seeing a freckle on a loved one for the first time. It can trigger a deepened appreciation and affection for the details that were always there but for some reason you just missed. It’s a delightful state, which is why I try to achieve “tourist mind” as often as I can whether I’m at home or away.
Putting together each issue of Sunset requires the staff to play tourist wherever we go. It’s our job to ferret out the newest of the new to share with readers like you whenever we visit a city, but we’re not afraid to see and celebrate the familiar with fresh eyes. Case in point: On a recent trip to Seattle we made sure to visit brand-new spots, like the speakeasy within a speakeasy, the Tokyo-style izakaya, and the modern take on the newsstand selling cool art journals and imported candy. But we also went to Pike Place Market and bought t-shirts for our families and took pictures of ourselves in front of that gum wall. Did we look like tourists? Guilty as charged.
Back in Los Angeles, we played tourist again in our own backyard on a visit to Dodger Stadium by taking a guided tour with Chaz Perea, the landscape manager who’s making a name for himself transforming the ballpark into a sprawling garden of spiky agaves, native sages, vivid fire sticks, and hearty succulents from the Sonoran desert. Thanks to his efforts and that of his intrepid crew, it’s now a certified botanic garden. Paris has the Tuileries. New York has the Bronx Botanical Garden. Los Angeles has Dodger Stadium. You can read about Perea’s path from golf-course gardener to custodian of a public treasure here.
Like Dodger Stadium, the West is constantly in a state of renewal thanks to people dedicated to improving what they inherited. It’s a recurring theme in this issue, from the story of an architect and a designer who transformed a 1911 Edwardian house in San Francisco into a stylish model of water-wise sustainability, to the rebuild of a house destroyed in the Malibu Woolsey Fire. Whether you’re exploring a new recipe, a new city, or your own backyard, may you always be finding home.