We made it through the holidays and into a whole new year–new beginnings, new challenges, and new adventures.
It’s time for new goals–or habits if that sounds more appealing. Many of us aim for better nutrition, a higher level of fitness, less clutter, more financial security, and stronger relationships. These are laudable values that are worth prioritizing year after year, and 2017 is no exception.
This year, though, let’s spice it up. If you got your Southwest Companion Pass like we did, we’ll all be traveling more than normal, but that doesn’t mean our time at home should be dedicated to forming a permanent and customized butt-print on the couch. Instead, take all the goals mentioned above, toss in a little extra fun and a lot of adventure, then commit to one solid year of being the best hometown tourists we can be.
It Isn’t Your Mom’s Staycation
Just as my idea of a vacation is not staying cooped up in a fancypants hotel, my idea of a staycation certainly isn’t heading to a local resort.
I want to get out and explore with friends and family–to see what there is to see and do what there is to do. Beaches*, pools, and room service are ubiquitous, so we skip those in favor of what makes a location unique.
In fact, I couldn’t care less about hotels because we’re only there for sleeping and bathing. As long as the room is clean, other amenities we’ll never use are unimportant.
So, when we take a staycation, we stay at home. There’s no packing, no extra expense for a hotel or travel gear, no worrying about what time we can check in or what time we have to check out, and no noisy neighbors or traffic delays. We have all our comforts with none of the hassle.
When To Go
If your idea of a staycation is similar to mine, or if you’re at least willing to give it a try, then use the following ideas as a springboard for your own hometown tourist shenanigans.
In addition to skipping the hassles of travel, locals also get to skip the bad weather. You have the benefit of living in this excellent location year-round, so pick the most gorgeous days and take full advantage of them!
Visit the botanical gardens in the spring before the flowers scorch, then hit up the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott on the Fourth of July. Don’t get trampled in the Running of the Bulls in Cave Creek each October, and while you’re there check out neighboring Carefree’s Enchanted Pumpkin Garden. Christmas at the Princess is a can’t-miss (at least on discount days), and be sure to visit Flagstaff for sledding and skiing after the first snowfall.
Most All attractions are best during the week and in the mornings when crowds are smaller. The waterpark is a much nicer place early on a Wednesday than later on a Saturday afternoon, but if you choose to venture out on a weekend, at least get there right when it opens.
Other sites select discount days like Wrigley Mansion’s Free Tours Tuesdays. The Arizona Renaissance Festival also accepts 2-for-1 discount coupons on opening weekend every year, and Grand Canyon, Saguaro, and Petrified Forest National Parks have no entrance fee on these 10 days per year!
While Yelp and Tripadvisor will provide a plethora of suggestions for filling your time, they will miss some secrets that only the locals know.
They won’t tell you about local high school students performing Seussical or the community college’s rendition of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. What better way to support local kids, enjoy the arts, and not have to drive all the way downtown and parallel park (the horror!)?
Many museums have reciprocal membership agreements, so check to see if your family’s art or science museum membership is also valid for free admission to other museums across the city and country. In addition, if you use Groupon or have an Entertainment Book and activate your membership online or use the app, you can change the city to receive great discounts across the country too.
Schools and the library aren’t the only places to score entertaining education–tours also give you a behind-the-scenes look at the products and places you love.
Now that you’ve mastered production, have you ever wondered what happens to your stuff when you’re finished with it? Do you know how recyclables are sorted after they’re all collected in one bin? You can tour a sorting and recycling facility to find out (Hint: it involves, magnets, shakers, lasers, and wind. Science in action!).
And you know I wouldn’t write a post like this without including some hikes.
Pinnacle Peak Trail is immaculately maintained with numerous educational signs that provide an excuse to stop and catch your breath.
If you’re looking to get even farther off the beaten path, check out 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of your city.
I’m not saying that we should never travel–far from it (find a great deal here)! But sometimes it’s nice to stick closer to home.
Just imagine–no missed flights, no TSA lines, no rental car, no forgotten passport, no public restrooms, no jet lag.
As hometown tourists, we get to enjoy adventures and still sleep in our own beds. We already have our own transportation and we know our way around. It’s a low-stress vacation from which we don’t need a vacation afterward!
What are your favorite hometown tourist activities?
*Phoenix has plenty of beach, just no ocean…
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