With warmer weather and vacation season upon us, everyone wants to get out and about and is looking for things to do. I know when I get the itch to go out, I find myself hunting for a new activity or adventure. Can you relate? I’ve always been a person who values new experiences and making memories. However sometimes I admit I can be guilty of associating those things with the exotic, elaborate or expensive.
In a recent conversation with my sister-in-law she was telling me how much she’d come to love her little town. Over time, she and her family had found innumerable activities and local delights to explore and enjoy. And many of these cost nothing at all. I found myself challenged not only to more intentionally dig into my own community and get to know it better, but also to be deliberate about enjoying this place where I live even if it wasn’t my “ideal.” My husband and I got really geeky about this challenge and actually made up a Google map where we started dropping pins of things we could do and see. Some are within a half hour radius of our home and others are maybe 60 minutes away, but all are doable at relatively short notice if we’re looking for a quick idea on an evening or a weekend.
This below list is only scratching the surface, but here are just a few examples of go-to activities:
Explore a Park - Whether you just get outside and go for a walk with your family or dog, or are looking for some more serious hiking or biking, local and state parks can be real treasures. Tackle it at a faster pace for exercise one day. Revisit another time for a slower stroll with camera in hand, taking in the details around you.
Delve Into Local History - Find spots nearby that have some history attached to them and learn about the roots of your hometown. Some areas may have walking or driving tours as well.
Eat at Famous Local Restaurants - What’s a well-known hot spot near your home? Maybe they specialize in 50s-style shakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, or have the best all-you-can-eat sushi around. Even if you don’t eat out often, trying a local favorite is a fun way to experience life in your town. Bonus if you get to sit outside on a nice day while you eat!
Visit a Wildlife Preserve - Bring some binoculars or a camera and visit a local wildlife preserve, nature or rehabilitation center. While you’re there try birdwatching or see what new fun facts you can learn about the local critters. Even major cities have eagle, hawk or falcon cams for residents to enjoy.
Visit Farmer’s Markets and U-Pick Farms - It’s the perfect time of year to visit local farms or farmer’s markets (which pop up even in the city)! Before you know it all sorts of berries and peaches will be ripe for the picking in rural areas.
Go on an Ice Cream Tour - Identify all the places you can get ice cream in the area and take time to visit and taste test each one so you can be sure you’ve found the best of the best. This is especially important because the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day, and I know you’d just hate to miss out on this special holiday. ;)
Explore a Small Town - Grab a girlfriend and explore every street in your town or another nearby. Discover new local eateries, coffee shops and boutiques. Who knows what little gems you might encounter!
Enjoy Local Museums or Entertainment - Whether it’s as simple as an open mic at a coffee shop or a new band at a favorite restaurant, see what sort of interesting entertainment you can find around town. Check your library to see if they partner with museums in the area - many will offer museum passes as part of your library membership so you can visit museums for free.
Tour a Winery or Brewery - Local wineries and breweries seem to be popping up all over the place nowadays. Many will also offer gourmet food options, or have a restaurant on site. Try a tour and tasting and bring back some souvenirs.
Row Your Boat - Or paddle it. Find a nearby lake or creek that rents canoes or kayaks and enjoy serenity out on the water. Bring a camera, of course!
Do you find the area you live in boring, or feel like you’ve seen it all? I’d challenge you to keep your eyes open for local events and new places you can explore. Chances are there’s a lot more out there than you’ve realized, and adventures are just waiting for you! Download the below idea sheet and tack it someplace where you or your family can easily jot down potential new experiences.