When I started keeping a journal a few years back of all the attractions I wanted to visit across the country, I stumbled across some places in Illinois that I never even knew existed. In fact, I was 21 years old the first time that I visited the Sears Tower and the Chicago Art Museum. I didn’t even know there was a Money Museum in Chicago until I had children. I had visited the touristy spots, such as Galena and Metropolis, but I’d never visited the Cahokia Mounds, one of the largest archeological sites in the US. I began thinking that in my quest to visit all 50 states, perhaps I hadn’t given my own state a fair shot.
If you are looking for quick getaways or vacations close to home, I challenge you to plan a Stay-cation. Plan for it in the same way you do for traditional vacations. Google things to do or visit in your own town, city, and state. Ask friends and family who don’t live in your state what they like best about it or their favorite attraction they’ve visited. It can be eye-opening to hear a different perspective about an area that we sometimes take for granted.
Here are some questions to consider in your search:
What cities or areas in your state offer opportunity for recreation or historical attractions?
What museums are unique to your state?
How many state parks are there in your state and have you ever visited any of them?
Is there a city or town in your state that you would consider booking a hotel and playing tourist?
What do other people visit when they come to your state?
Are there great places to hike, bike, boat, fish, or camp?
Have you ever taken a city tour or architectural tour?
Are there any unique lodging opportunities, such as staying in a tree-house, on a houseboat, or in a yurt?
Have you ever visited and toured your state capitol?
Could you visit the childhood home of any past presidents?
What historical events happened in your state that you could learn more about?
Are there any movies that were filmed in your state or television filmings you could visit?
Could you attend an annual Festival or Fair that is unique to your state?
What restaurants or foods are your state famous for that people will travel many miles to try?
Does your state have any factory tours?
Have you passed any quirky road side attractions but never stopped before?
Often, your local library will have Museum Passes that can get you and your family in free for a one week time period. Check ahead of time, because there can be a waiting list for popular attractions.
Museums also have Resident Free Days, which can save you some money. But, be warned that these are very busy days, so arrive early!
Here are a few websites that I like to use in my research:
So next time you wonder if you’ll ever have a chance to hit all 50 states, don’t overlook your great state and begin in your own backyard!
Have you ever taken a Stay-cation? Did you learn something that surprised you? Leave a comment below or share your experience on the new Travel 50 States Facebook Page.
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