Do you lack the time or funds to take a getaway vacation? Or do you just want to stay close to home? Consider treating your own state as if you were a tourist. With a little planning and research you can enjoy being home as much as going away. Become good friends with Groupon, which offers many discounted options for dining and activities. You know those entertainment books that you probably purchased at the beginning of the previous school year? Max them out! There are several options from discounted movies, plays and musical performances to spas and sporting events.
1. Use your state tourism office.
Order a tourist guide from your state's tourism office. All too often we are familiar with a small area that we frequent. Yet, we have no real idea about the bounty that exist in our home state. Explore your own state like you are a tourist.
2. Enjoy the outdoors and play.
Summertime means there is a plethora of events going on at any given time. Many park districts have movies or music in the park. Just bring yourself, a blanket, bug spray, and food and beverages, if they allow it. Go bike riding. Have a good old fashioned picnic. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like. Pack up your lunch or dinner and take of advantage of park space. Drive if you have to. Go hiking. There are trails just waiting to be explored. Enjoy a day at the beach. You may not live by the ocean but you may be surprised by how many fresh water beaches are in your state.
Try things you have never done or have always wanted to try like taking a hot air balloon ride, horseback riding, kayaking, or going paint balling.
3. Go on a food tour.
Use shows like Man vs Food or Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as a resource. Visit the local places highlighted on those shows. If you are brave enough, try the challenges! Make it goal to try food from different countries at the restaurants in your area, like an Indian buffet or Vietnamese food, for example. Be sure to check out the ratings on Yelp or Google first.
4. Take a one-tank trip.
Take a series of one tank trips throughout the summer. Go as far as you can go on one half tank of gas. Explore and then come on back home! Even the most out of the way places have local landmarks like Grandpa’s Cheesebarn in Ohio, or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas. Look up the coolest landmarks in your state or city. Consider checking out the creepiest places in your area.
5. Take advantage of local hotel rates.
Staying close to home doesn’t mean you have to actually sleep there. Check out local hotels for weekend specials. Sometimes they include a gift certificate to a local eatery and other perks for families or couples.
6. Immerse yourself in culture.
Visit the websites for local museums and zoos in your area. Some have free days or times. Your local library may even offer discounted tickets. Call or check their website.There are various comedy and music shows throughout the summer. Go dance or laugh! Support local plays.
7. Have movie or television show marathons.
There is nothing wrong with taking a day off to do nothing but veg out in comfortable clothes and fuzzy slippers. This would be the time catch up on those things that everyone is talking about. Even if you don’t have access to Netflix or Hulu, your local library is an excellent resource. And it is free!
8. Make your home feel like a get away.
Small touches can go a long way. Give your home a summer makeover with lighter colored pillows, throws, pretty pastel or neutral curtains, switch out your winter comforter for a quilt or bedspread etc. Take advantage of sales, discount stores like TJ Maxx and Burlington Coat Factory, or bath and linen store coupons that you received in the mail.
9. Turn your bathroom into an spa.
Utilize your often neglected bathtub! Explore the world of indulgent bath salts, bubbles, soaps, and lotions. Grab fluffy towels, scented or non-scented candles (You may not want to have them compete with the the aromatherapy qualities of your spa scents.), a head wrap, a book holder made for bathtubs, a bath pillow, a pretty glass (for your wine). Or maybe you would prefer soft music playing in the background and a bath buddy. The goal is to relax and and enjoy yourself!
10. Take advantage of your yard or porch.
Sometimes we are so busy we don’t make time to fully enjoy our surroundings. Maybe you purchased your house or condo for the yard or view with visions of solitary endeavors, al fresco meals, or dinner parties under the stars. Make those visions a reality. Buy a hammock to relax in. Dress up your lawn furniture with new cushions. Plant some flowers or just put out some pre-planted pots.
Start your day by drinking your coffee outside. Grill your lunch. Order catered food to eat outside if you would prefer to do less work. Have that dinner party. Power down the electronics and camp in your backyard with your kids.
Staying home for vacation doesn’t have to mean boring or be filled with endless tasks that make you even more exhausted. The options for fun are endless. Spend as little or as much as you want. View your city or state like an unexplored playground. Use these summer months to explore. Your local adventure awaits!
Gina Torres is a Facebook addicted-arm chair psychologist, political commenting, often militant, pop culture junkie blogger. She also happens to be a voracious reader, often reading several novels in a week. She loves the written word and the subtle, or not so subtle, turn of a phrase. Gina is a wry observer and humorist whose greatest joy is to make people ugly laugh. She has been a freelance writer for many years, writing copy, articles, web content, and for political campaigns.