Whenever holidays come around, many people head out of town (or out of state) to visit family or explore new places. For some, that’s going “up north” to the cabin or state park, while others head to the coast to spend time on the beach. However, we must remember where we live has its beauty and points of attraction. You don’t have to travel far to experience new things or have a great time. Playing the role of tourist in your own town can be a pleasant change of pace and help ease mental (and financial) stress. Here are some ideas for rediscovering the area around you.
Check Local Events
Many towns have Facebook pages, and those who don’t usually have community calendars listing upcoming events. Often, the website is visit[yourtown].com. Do an internet search for your chamber of commerce or visitor’s bureau and find out what you’ve been missing!
- Holiday Parades – If you have children, help them see that giving away the candy and making someone else smile is even better than the sweet treat. The last thing our little ones need is more sugar in their systems!
- Music in the Park – Going to a park gives children a chance to run around and play, while adults and older kids can enjoy the music and festivities.
- Local Water or Fireworks Shows – These might be easier to find if it’s around a holiday, but they don’t just happen around holidays. If you don’t love the loud noises of fireworks, a local water show might be more up your alley!
- Living History Museums – Many have events throughout the year, and it’s a great way to cultivate an appreciation for history.
- Library Events – From story times for little kids to adult lectures, libraries hold many events.
- YMCA or Community Education – Community centers and YMCAs often offer drawing classes, jewelry-making classes, bus trips, and other events. You also make laps around the track if you’re the only one there.
Our communities often have a lot going on that we’re unaware of. Sometimes all it takes is some creativity and research. When you start looking into local Facebook pages and community calendars, you’ll find more activities than you know what to do with!
Get Out in Nature
We all know how good it is to get out in nature, but only some of us make it a point to do so. What better time than a staycation or a holiday weekend?
- State or County Parks – Try to make it one you’ve never been to and explore. State and county parks have walking paths, but that’s only some of the things you can do within them!
- Wildlife Preserve – The walk will benefit everyone, and the animals are always fun to watch and learn about. You could also go to the zoo if there’s no wildlife preserve around you.
- Playground or Walking Path – Find a new one! If it’s warm enough, bring your bike and go for a long ride. You could even bring a picnic and make a day of it!
- Parkour and Free Running Events – Parkour and free running are sports that have started to draw attention again. It’s a great way to get outside, stretch your problem-solving skills, and exercise. It’s sure to have the “cool” factor for both older kids and adults.
- Recreational Sports – This isn’t likely a one-and-done way to spend the weekend or the holiday. This experience and activity will continue and keep the family coming back together or finding a social connection with others. Whether you take a frisbee, baseball, or basketball to a park or start biking, hiking, or rollerblading together, you will have a blast!
- Picnics – It sounds simple, but going for a picnic isn’t something many of us do daily. Grab some stevia-sweetened sodas and a grass-fed burger or prepare one of our other recipes, and find a grassy area to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Make preparing the food a group or family activity, too! Crank up the music, have a dance party while you cook, and divide up different dishes. It makes the food prep go faster and teaches little ones how to cook and serve others.
Spending time outside is great for your health – both physical and mental. It’s even better when it cultivates positive thoughts and enjoyment!
Consider Music & The Arts
For rainy days or a little extra culture, consider local performing arts events like theatre, music, or dancing!
- Community Theater – Local actors work just as hard at their craft as someone on the big screen. The difference is that community theater is all for the love of the art – because they don’t usually get paid to do it. A night out watching a play is always an enjoyable event. And… you get to watch a story played out in front of you without spending time in front of a screen!
- A Local Orchestra Performance – Like music in the park and the community theater, attending is a great way to show support for local art.
- Ballroom or Swing Dancing – Dancing is an excellent method of exercise. Take a few classes if you need to learn how to dance. Several community dances often come with a lesson beforehand – they want you to have fun, too! It’s an excellent event for an evening out and a way to learn something new, which is excellent for your brain!
As mentioned, you could also seek out local art classes and other events via local community education or your community college. You’ll often find drawing, pottery, painting, woodworking, and more!
Revisit Overlooked Pastimes
There are several activities people often think of when they’re trying to plan for the weekend. Others come up less often. Try one of these for a fun change of pace!
- Escape Rooms – Check out the teambuilding exercise of an escape room if there’s one nearby. It works your mind differently and forces you to work together. Even if you don’t escape, you’ll make memories to last a lifetime!
- Geocaching – A worldwide scavenger hunt you can participate in any time you want? How is this not a more common thing? Bring along some trinkets that match the themes of the boxes you’re looking for, and trade them out with something from in the box for an even more fun experience!
- Exploring New Roads – Go driving down a country road you’ve never been on. Take turns deciding left or right or flip a coin to make the choice. Play “I Spy” with the others in your car or see how lost you can get before you hit “z” in the alphabet game. Then try and find your way home, again, without the GPS or asking for directions. You could even play several of the games at once for an added challenge!
You don’t have to go far to try something new and get re-energized about life.
Make Good Use of The Backyard
This is great if you have small children, but hey, we could do well to shake off the cares of life for a day and become a child again! Invite your neighbors over and have some good old-fashioned fun!
- A Field Day – Why not host a field day in your backyard? Have jump rope and hula hoop competitions. See who can keep a ball in the air the longest or throw a frisbee the farthest. Kick a soccer ball around or throw a football. Invite neighbors that are also staying in town and have a full-on day of fun!
- Sidewalk Chalk – This is often seen as an activity for little ones, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t participate! Have fun with it – host drawing competitions or games of hangman, Pictionary, or paper wars. Use the chalk to draw out a foursquare or hopscotch board. Or use the chalk to write nice messages on the driveway of someone who isn’t home. Is it their birthday? A holiday? Did they recently graduate, get married, or have a baby? You could also find a neighbor you know is out of town for the weekend and leave them a nice “welcome home!” message.
- Blowing Bubbles – Try and blow the biggest, pop the most, or make yours go the farthest or fastest by blowing it in the right direction.
Embrace that childlike wonder at the simple things. You might be surprised how much it lowers stress and reenergizes you to tackle your next project!
If You Need Rainy Day Options …
Consider at-home ideas if you’re a family with younger children.
- Board Games – Spend the money you’re not using on travel to get a new board game or pull out one you haven’t played in a while. Set up tournament-style brackets for favorite games. Play a giant version of Spoons with as many players as you can rope into it. Or you could break out one of the longer games and just keep it going over the weekend. Don’t usually have time to play those favorites that take hours? Well, now you do!
- Scavenger Hunt! – Here’s how it works: Everyone comes up with a list of 20 things to look for. Then you mix the lists up and have everyone grab one. Then… Ready, set, go! See who accomplishes the list first! Or, set up a list of clues and see how long it takes someone to reach the end.
It can be tricky to think of things you haven’t done in a while simply because you haven’t done them for a while. But those pastimes stick with you for a reason. Sometimes putting a new spin on them can help revive the fun you remember.
Seek Out Everyday Wonders
It’s easy to get caught in the rut of the “everyday.” When you can’t think of anything to do, you often end up just doing the same things, as bored as any other day. It can be a rough cycle, but you don’t have to stay stuck in it! Get your group to sit down and brainstorm. Use this list as a place to start, but don’t let it limit you. What other things are happening locally that you can enjoy as a local tourist? Happiness is made and cultivated – it isn’t found like a buried treasure.
We (or our parents) chose to live where we did for a reason. Why was that? Rediscover the why and find something new to be thankful for right where you are.