We had some guests in town a couple of weeks ago. When it came time to deciding what to do for entertainment, they wanted to see the tourist attractions. Well, where I live isn’t a big tourist town. Or so I thought. In looking around, though, I discovered that we have a lot of museums and activities that I wasn’t even aware of, most of them free or very low cost. Heck, I learned that we have a fairly prominent Civil War battlefield about thirty miles down the road that I didn’t even realize was there. (It also made me realize that I must live under a very large rock because I’ve lived in this general area all of my life. Once the forced school field trips stopped, though, I never really kept up with the museum and history scene.)
Our first stop was to the local visitor’s center/Chamber of Commerce. There we were able to get brochures on all kinds of activities from free museums to low cost minor league sports and fossil hunting expeditions. I was amazed by the amount of things to do in my area. There were activities for kids and adults. The helpful people at the visitor’s center even told us about a few places that they didn’t have brochures for, but which were fun nonetheless. We spent the week checking out historic houses, parks, museums, mom and pop stores, and doing activities like panning for gemstones and running metal detectors over that Civil War battlefield (unfortunately we were a few weeks late for the re-enactments, but that’s on my agenda for next year). We even found some great local hole-in-the-wall restaurants that I’d never heard of or tried. The food was good, plentiful, and cheap.
Even now that my guests are gone, I still have a pile of brochures on the coffee table of things that I’d like to do. There’s enough interesting stuff to do around here to keep us busy for quite a while. There’s a zip line tour through one of the state parks that I really want to try. I never would have known about these things if I hadn’t been forced to check it all out by guests who wanted to “do something”.
The moral of this story is that you don’t have to take an expensive vacation to find fun things to do or to try new things. You can probably find all of that in your own area. Even if you’ve lived in an area all of your life, unless you’ve made it a point to discover all there is to do, you’ve probably missed quite a few things. Most of us are guilty of getting into our daily ruts and not taking the time to see the good things that are right in front of us. We say, “Oh, those places are for the tourists,” if we think about them at all. But what better than to be a tourist in your own town?
The next time you’re bored, head down to the visitor’s center and peruse the brochures. Ask the people who work there what they recommend. They’ll probably have even more ideas. You can have some fun and be happy that you didn’t blow money on an expensive vacation. And the money you do spend will stay in your local economy, helping to keep your neighbors and friends employed.
(Photo courtesy of EricRi)