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Go local for your next vacation

by Kimberly Johnson

With busy schedules and tighter budgets, more people are looking for ways to have fun without spending a fortune. Whether you have a long weekend to enjoy or just an afternoon, going local lets you get away without going very far. Go local for your next vacation!
Small towns and big cities have something in common: There are always new experiences to be had. Here are some fun and easy ways to go local, no matter where you live.


  • Check your local newspaper – in print or online. Look for stories about hot spots, family-friendly activities or unusual shops. There are usually event calendars that highlight activities sponsored by civic, cultural and faith groups.
  • Search locally on websites like www.yp.com. With access to a database of millions of local businesses, you can search in specific neighborhoods, watch business videos and use enhanced maps to get directions immediately. Find a restaurant and book a reservation, browse movie times and buy tickets, or get ticket prices to live local events – and even purchase them on the spot. Check out local users’ reviews and post recommendations of your own, too.
  • Pop into a library or coffee shop and check out the fliers, brochures, and other free information on local events.
  • Tap your online communities to discover and share recommendations for favorite local spots. Websites like www.buzz.com offer you a personalized version of local search, based on the recommendations of people you know and trust.


  • Behind-the-Scenes Tours. Company museums, firehouses, factories and police stations often offer formal tours of their facilities. Some television and radios stations offer tours, as well.
  • Theatrical Productions. Community theatres, touring Broadway productions and local dance studios all offer wonderful experiences for people of all ages. Look for matinee pricing, or for special group rates if you want to go with other families.
  • Family Fun Centers. You can play mini golf, go bowling and even play laser tag at these all-in-one places for fun. Sometimes you can find coupons in local parenting publications or the newspaper.
  • Local Bed and Breakfasts. You don’t have to travel to wine country or the mountains to enjoy a good B&B. Search online and check local ads for a romantic getaway that doesn’t involve air travel.

Make discovering local treasures a family affair.

  • Write down different categories on slips of paper such as restaurants, museums, activities, etc.
  • Have each family member draw a category out of a hat and give them each 24 hours to find five things in their category that cost $10 or less per person (or choose another price depending on your budget).
  • Present findings to each other, then start adding activities to the family calendar.
  • Consider making a game out of your local adventure by creating a scavenger hunt within a specific venue or across several local spots.

Take time to discover your town and you may be surprised at how just much there is to explore.

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