Want to get away? Many of us dream of taking an exciting vacation but feel like we'll never have enough time or money to live out those dreams. Epic itineraries filled with beach days, skiing in the mountains or hiking national parks sound like great ways to spend a few days, don't they? But let’s be honest: How often do we take trips like these? Not often enough. That’s precisely why it can be helpful to get into a travel mindset without wandering too far away from home.

Believe it or not, trips that involve zero packing, no dashes through the airport or time zone changes can be just as fun as exotic, faraway adventures. Exploring where you live can be a rewarding way to learn more about the area. You can be a tourist in your town and sleep peacefully in your bed when the day is done. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank. That sounds like the perfect getaway!


If you live in a popular travel destination, it may be a regular thing to be surrounded by visitors whose faces light up as they point to landmarks or pose for selfies in front of that popular fountain. If you only venture out and see the things earmarked for out-of-towners when friends and family descend, get out there and experience what your area has to offer ASAP.

What to see first?

Well, what you see and do depends on where you live, what you love to do, what you loathe doing and what you’re open to experiencing. Starting with a historical tour can help you learn the stories of your town, see notable buildings, find iconic must-photograph places and learn how and why it was founded. You may have an idea of the history of your area, yet these tours are a great way to fill in the missing facts. You may also gain a new appreciation for your surroundings and see your city in a whole new light.


Most hotels have a brochure kiosk in their lobby. That’s a goldmine of information, activities and to-dos at your fingertips. Reach for ones that pique your curiosity, or take one of each and investigate them thoroughly. The sea of marketing brochures is there for you: a potential visitor. Don’t be shy; ask someone at the hotel front desk what they recommend visitors “must-see” when they’re in town for a day.


You can also start with a bit of internet research: what is your area known for? Is there a lavender farm close by that encourages agritourism? If you love to walk on the wild side, how about visiting the nearest animal sanctuary? What about your local sports teams? Have you ever been to one of the high school, college or pro games? If there is something only your city offers, take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy it.

Dress and plan for the day

Be ready for action. If you’re heading to the dunes at Lake Michigan, grab your towels, sunscreen and beach umbrella. Considering the Riverwalk or Indianapolis Zoo? That means comfy shoes, layered clothing and—most likely—a vote on where to stop for lunch. Visiting sites such as these may be easier to navigate by having a plan of action in place. Have you always wanted to hike the dunes? Do that before you settle onto the beach. Can’t miss seeing the giraffes or the day will fall flat? Head to favorite exhibits or must-do activities first, then let others fill in your timeline.

Bringing along kiddos

With younger ones, it’s important to make things straightforward. Have as much fun as possible by sightseeing without a restricted schedule. No one wants to buy tickets to a planetarium show only to have it be the most expensive afternoon nap because everyone slept through it. For your teens who may be dragging their heels and would rather play video games, let them be in on the planning. If they have no earthly clue what to see or do, give them a list of three activities and research them together. Although they may roll their eyes and act uninterested, you’ll be creating moments that matter and can never be replaced by an afternoon of gaming.

Doing it solo

Make reservations at the latest swanky restaurant, hit the jazz club for a night of music and dancing, book a stay at that boutique hotel or wander around downtown.


If you want to get a bit out of your comfort zone, consider a one-tank getaway to a destination you’ve always wanted to explore. Pack a picnic and your hiking boots and make the drive to the nearest state park. Visit that greasy spoon a few towns over you just saw featured on that diner destination show. You don’t have to travel far to find your fun.

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