Many people, myself included, get caught up thinking that to travel you need to leave the country or go some extravagant new place. When you are stuck with a limited amount of money and vacation days like I am, this isn’t always possible. But have you ever stopped to view the area around you through the eyes of a tourist? I think you’d be surprised what you can find and explore in your own backyard. Don’t knock local adventure until you try it!
Where to Start
Start by drawing a 50 mile radius around your home town. (There are sites on google that can help you do this.) Anything within this 50 mile radius is about an hour to a two hour drive, which puts it comfortably in the day trip category. Then just start scrolling around this area on google maps!
Type in things like hikes, state parks, breweries, vineyards, etc. Anything that you might have an interest in. If something sparks your interest, dig a little further to see what other activities or sites there are nearby and begin to build your day-trip.
There is a website called Roadtrippers that allows you to put in your destination and it will show you a variety of things to see and do along your route. You can turn layers on and off so that you can narrow it down to just photo-op spots and trails, or maybe just restaurants!
Instagram is also a goldmine for things to see and do on your local adventure. Just look up the location or hashtag for the area you’re exploring and scroll for things and places that might interest you. It’s a piece of cake!
Once you’ve decided on 1-3 activities or destinations, hit the road!
ProTip: Leave some wiggle room for spontaneous decisions.
Talk to the Locals
My best tip for a spontaneous local adventure is to talk to the locals for suggestions. When we went to Worcester, Massachusetts earlier this year, we struck up a conversation with the bartender at 3Cross Brewery and picked her brain a bit. She pointed us to a nondescript local bar where we experienced the best meatball sandwich we’ve ever tasted. No way in hell we would have ever found that place without her suggestion!
Locals tend to know the small places that you won’t see on the Top 10 list of Things to Do on TripAdvisor. Whether it’s a great spot to hike to for sunset, or small dive with great live music, they will give you some unique tips for your adventure. Do as the locals do!
When you’re exploring a new town, make sure that you support local business. Often, small businesses will promote each other so spend some time browsing the wall of business cards or reading the flyers of events that the town is hosting soon. It’s a great way to get a feel for the local community!
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Sometimes you don’t even have to leave your hometown to find a new local adventure! There is so much to see right in your own backyard!
I drove by the same parking area on the side of the road every day for FOUR years and never once stopped to look at it. Finally, one day recently I decided to look up what it was. Not only was it a section of a hiking trail, but it was part of the New England Trail (NET), which is 1 of only 11 National Scenic Trails in the entire country. Other more well known trails include the Appalachian Trail (AT), The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and The Continental Divide Trail (CDT.)
The NET is 215 miles long and travels from the coast of Connecticut, all the way up to New Hampshire. It was only designated as a national trail in 2009 so it is still relatively new and unknown. I spent a lot of time on the website researching the sections of the trail that literally cross through areas that I’ve lived in my entire life and had no idea it existed!
ProTip: Check out your local REI for hiking destinations, tips and organized group hikes!
Next time you’re driving to work, try to look around and see what you mindlessly pass along the way. What coffee shop could you stop at instead of Dunkin Donuts in the morning? Are there any recreational trail areas off the road to explore the next time you walk your dog? Any artwork, sculptures or memorials you pass everyday and have no idea what they are even about or for? Make it your goal to spend some time exploring your own hometown and getting to know it through the eyes of a visitor. Create your own local adventure!
If this post inspires you to get out and explore your own area, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear what places and things you found! Until next time…
Stay Wild and Adventure On!