From Our Readers
Updated July 15, 2015 10:42 am

The summer season has arrived, and with that also comes vacation season for many. Families are planning adventure trips to Disney World. Lifelong friends are booking relaxing getaways to the beach. Soon-to-be newlyweds are planning honeymoons to Mexico. But, due to finances, family situations, work schedules, or other factors and obligations, you might not have the means or the circumstances to go away for a vacation.

If you’re one of the people (like me) that doesn’t have the fortune of taking a real vacation this summer, there’s still a solution: The glorious, underrated staycation. It’s a chance to experience and appreciate your own town through the eyes of a tourist. There are things a person can do in almost any place they live give you some of that vacation experience without your wallet taking a hit. Here’s how to do it.

Check out some of the little museums in the area

There is a museum or exhibit for nearly everything –art, culture, events, collections, etc. Most towns will have a museum for something, no matter how minor or cheesy, and they can be reasonably priced or even free. Around where I live, for example, coal is a big part of our heritage so there are some small museums dedicated to the history of mining in the area. It’s a good way to kick off kick off your hometown vacation.
Learn some history

Ever wonder who that statue in the park was or why that building downtown looked that way? Dig into the history of your hometown and you’ll find a whole new layer to the place, even if it’s a corner that you walk by every day. Taking the time to actually read the historic markers will not only improve your chances at the next hometown trivia game, it’ll give you a new appreciation for the place you live.

Find a local spot that you haven’t tried before

When traveling, I usually try to avoid restaurant chains and go for the establishments that are unique to that area. You can do the same thing in your hometown. Get out of your comfort zone, and check out a bar or restaurant you’ve never been in before. Strike up a conversation with a fellow diner about the city you live in. You might be surprised what you’d learn.

Go on a walking tour

If you happen to live in a place where you can take advantage of walking tours, consider doing so. These tours can be a lot of fun, you will learn more about the city you call home, and you’ll be getting some casual exercise, which is never a bad thing.

Spend a day relaxing on the water

Pack a bag with food and drink, books/magazines, and sunscreen and spend the day at the closest body of water. Even if you don’t live near the beach, there’s likely a lake or reservoir or even just a pool that you can go chill out by. Vacations are all in your head, after all.

People watch in a park or busy square/street

People-watching is an underestimated activity, in my opinion. It’s interesting, it passes the time, and it’s free. Plus, it’s a great way to appreciate the diversity of people who live in a certain area. Just watch the steam of folks go by.

Maybe you’re new to the area or maybe you’ve lived there all your life. No matter the length of time you’ve called a place home, there are things to do that lots of residents take for granted. Even if you’ve done some or all of the things listed above before, have a go again and be open to experiencing them differently this time. Plan out a weekend of events and destinations in your figurative backyard. Be creative, and don’t be afraid to look like a tourist. That’s the best part.

Kristin Carnes is an interior designer by day and a cat lady by night. She was born, raised, and currently resides in West Virginia. She is a total wanderlust, You can follow her on Twitter and/or Instagram @kriswritesstuff.