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Travel Bloggers Share: How to Explore Your Own Backyard

After big trips, I often feel some post-travel blues. Coming home and going back into a routine can seem boring, but it’s important to make your daily life just as exciting as your ‘travel life’. It’s easy to forget that our own hometowns often offer some amazing activities and sights – here are 6 travel bloggers telling YOU how to explore your own backyard.

Buy a Local Travel Guidebook

Our family travels mostly in our own state, usually within two hours of home.  We’ve lived here for 20 years, and we explore almost every weekend. How do we keep it fresh?  To our surprise, we’ve found some of the best new ideas from local guide books. How often do you read a travel guide for your own town?  Almost never! But the authors of travel guides seek out the best and newest ideas for food, lodging, hiking, and activities. And since new editions come out every couple of years, it’s worth picking up a copy and checking out what’s nearby.  

We recently discovered an amazing outdoor activity that is great for kids and low cost.  We’ve gone several times and we take friends or family; the best part is that no one has ever heard of it!  And we found it via a local travel guide that I happened to pick up on a whim. Since then, I’ve bought every local travel guide I can find and we have a whole summer planned of exploring near our home.

Heather from Oregon Outdoor Family

Have a Staycation

I love to travel, but between work, my kids’ school and extracurricular commitments, and my bank account, I can’t always jet off to far-flung destinations. That’s why we love to explore our hometown and nearby cities.

Staycations can be just as fun as (and much cheaper than) traveling far away—if you don’t fall into the routine of doing the same-old as you usually do. That’s why I love hunting on Groupon or other discount web sites for unusual things to do. One time, we went to a rock climbing gym, and my daughters discovered they’re obsessed with bouldering! Another time, I attended a build-your-own terrarium workshop.

By searching discount and coupon sites in your hometown, you’ll discover hidden gems and quirky activities—things you’d never have uncovered on your own. What’s more, you’ll save money that you can spend on other staycation activities—or a big trip later on! However you travel in your hometown, don’t overlook its charm and potential for adventure just because you live there. There’s always more to see.

Catherine from To & Fro Fam

Go on a Photo Walk

One way I like to get a new perspective on my own neighborhood or town is to go on a photowalk. I grab my camera and come up with a couple of ideas, kind of like a scavenger hunt.

Some ideas could be a shot from a low perspective, a shot from a high point, or a shot with a reflection in it. You can also look for patterns, repeating circles, a circle in a square, or a view through a frame. Then you walk around and try to find shots that fit the different triggers you came up with. Doing this, you walk around with almost mindful attention to sights that went unnoticed just one day earlier. It also forces you to maybe explore a spot that you walk by regularly but never really visited. You get to see everything from a whole new viewpoint, and it can bring a lot of joy to a familiar place.

Shimona from Sidecar Photo

Find Local Travel Blogs and Websites

There’s so much travel information on the internet these days that it’s the perfect place to learn more about what your home town has to offer. To discover hidden gems, I specifically like to read articles on destination-focused websites. Whether it’s the official tourism website, a blog by a local tour company, or a personal travel blog, these are all amazing options if you want to find cool cafes, special tours, cultural activities, and more.
Finding the official tourism website is pretty easy as it would normally be the first result if you search for ‘your town + tourism.’ Searching ‘your town + tours’ should bring up local companies that might also have blog posts on their website, and ‘top + your town + blogs’ should bring up local travel blog roundups. You can also try to find accounts that contain the name of your city on Instagram as some of them will lead to an actual website.

Or from My Path in the World

Find Nearby Hidden Gems

One of the best ways to explore your own backyard is to research small towns in your area to check to see if any of them contain any unique, notable, or one-of-a-kind attractions. This is how I first discovered Helen, Georgia–a tiny fairytale mountain village located along a bubbling river just an hour north of my home in Atlanta. The town has just 430 residents, and its Bavarian style architecture reminds me of the Hansel and Gretel storybooks I used to read as a child.

I never used to have much interest in exploring my home country, but when illness kept me from fulfilling my dreams of voyaging overseas, I searched for other options to make my dreams of travel come true. It didn’t take me long to realize that my own backyard can be just as exciting as foreign lands as long as I’m willing to look. With a little bit of research, you can find so many unique places nearby, and small towns are often full of secrets. Go find them!

Jillian from Adventure Dragon

Explore through Food

With a full time job, it can sometimes be difficult to plan big vacations or weekend trips, so I try to make the most of it on the weekends by doing something new right around where I live. Especially in the winter when the weather doesn’t allow for many outdoor activities, one of my favorite ways to explore locally is to try out a new restaurant. I think so often we develop our favorite places and miss out on the opportunities to try new cuisine. For example, I had never tried Indian food until I was 20 and now it’s one of my favorites!

Maybe a new restaurant recently opened up in the area that you’d like to check out. Maybe you even visit one of your favorite restaurants but order something new off the menu. Throughout my travels, I’ve found that some of the small unassuming restaurants on side streets turn out to have the best food if you give them a chance!

Danielle from Wanderlust While Working

Find Markets

Piggybacking on Danielle’s tip – my own tip is to find some local markets. I like to make a whole day out of visiting a market. Walking there, picking up unusual ingredients, buying fresh produce from local sources, and maybe even grabbing a yummy and nourishing meal! Buying locally sourced goods and really highlighting them in my meals helps me explore my own backyard differently.

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