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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Making the Most of a Staycation

Sometimes, you just don't have the funds to take a full-on vacation. Maybe you lost your job or you needed a new refrigerator or your kid needed braces or any number of other unforeseen expenses can occur and you just can't fit it into your budget. Well, just because you can't go anywhere doesn't mean you can't make the most of a staycation, just to get out of the house and see more of your own town or a neighboring one. It's better than sitting on the couch watching old TV shows on Hulu.

Take a walking tour. All cities have one, so why not fork over a few bucks (or nothing) and go on one. You're sure to learn a bunch about where you live and maybe look at it much differently than before. You can find all kinds of walking tours by Googling or looking at your local Chamber of Commerce website. Many cities have free tours run by locals that are super fun and informative or you can download a free or cheap walking tour app to your mobile device and do it yourself! Bonus if you ever win on a gameshow because you knew historical or random fact about your town!

Get a CityPASS. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I love CityPASS. Uh, who wouldn't want to save up to 50% off a whole slew of attractions? Skip the ticket lines and go straight in, plus never pay for anything after you buy your pass (except lunch and souvenirs). Not only does it save you time and money, but it's convenient and it comes with discounts on dining, transportation and more. They are good for 9 days starting on the first day of use.

Hop-on, Hop-off bus tours. Maybe I'm a sucker and I also like taking the bus on vacation, so the hop-on, hop-off buses are up there on my list of vacation activities. With gas prices on the rise in most places across America, paying $15-20 for one of these tours seems like a bargain. Check out all the touristy places in your neighborhood and don't waste any of your own gas!

Attend a sporting event. When’s the last time you went to the ballpark or stadium and got a hot dog and beer and rooted for the home team? You can sometimes find discounts on tickets, too. Check your Entertainment book or sign up for a daily deal site like Groupon and look for 2-for-1 tickets and other discounts.

Take in a Broadway/off-Broadway play. Most cities have plays and Broadway-style productions going on all the time (or if you are in New York City, you get actual Broadway shows) and you can get half-price tickets the day of the performance, find discounts in your Entertainment Book or find amazing deals online at Broadway Box if you live in NYC, Orlando, Las Vegas or London.

Shakespeare in the Park. In the summer, you can get free culture on the weekends by seeing Shakespeare productions done at your local parks. Who doesn’t enjoy free entertainment? My husband and I do this every summer and bring a picnic and our dog. The dog loves to be outside and check out people and then we all eat lunch or dinner during intermission. Toss a couple bucks in the donation box at the end of the show and you’ve just had a super cheap afternoon out. Kids love to watch the performances, too, even if they aren’t entirely sure about the language being spoken. Other theater companies do this with non-Shakespeare plays as well, but you will have to search for them or check your town’s local paper. You might even find listings via What’s On When.

Grace your local Renaissance Fair with your presence. Kings and queens, jousting, turkey legs and jugglers. What’s not to love at a Renaissance fair? You can dress up if you want, watch the shows, shop for swords and hand forged utensils, try on dresses and take your picture with a lute-player. Or not. People really get into the spirit of the Renaissance at these things, which can be awesome. Enjoy the cheese, buy a flower crown, eat something with your hands and have a fun day out. Don’t forget your sunscreen though, as many of these festivals don’t have much cover and they are always on the hottest day of the year (or so it seems).

Visit famous landmarks. Your city probably has one or two (or dozens), so why not look them up online and then make a point to tick them off your list. I can drive a half hour or so and visit the end of the Oregon Trail. Last time I was there, I learned how to make flour and that a covered wagon wasn’t really all that good at keeping you out of the elements. Maybe you have something cool in your hometown, like the house that Abraham Lincoln lived in, or Christopher Columbus’ ship (if that even exists somewhere). You know the places that you tell other people to visit when they come to your city (i.e. Alcatraz), but you have never been to.
What are your favorite hometown tourist activities?

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