Ditch the expensive vacation already and go on tour in your city, neighborhood or state. This is becoming all the rage with recent economic conditions; commonly dubbed as as "staycation."
Let's face it, being a tourist in your own town does have its advantages. You can come home to your own house, sleep in your own bed and even have a campfire in your back yard if your community allows. Staycations also give you a chance to see popular tourist attractions in your own town that you may have overlooked or put off for another time.
So start by grabbing your AAA card or travel club membership. If you don't have one, that's ok, but it definitely helps. Now is a great time to join. Auto clubs provide books, maps, roadside asssistance and other tools you'll need to become a tourist in your own town. Oh, and did I mention discounts galore?
An Entertainment publications coupon book is also a great tool to have for your hometown tourism excursion. If you don't have one of those, you can buy one online at a steep discount after December or January of the current book's year. Not only will Entertainment save you money with coupons but it contains a whole host of family friendly activities and ideas. Many coupons are noted as such right on the coupon.
Visit local blogs and websites to find out what people are talking up the most. Maybe you always wanted to go to Wisconsin Dells, for example, but don't know where to start. Let tripadvisor.com get you pointed in the right direction! There's reviews, costs and more of every major tourist attraction in the country. Yahoo travel also sports not only entire vacations but deeply discounted pricing on car rentals and hotels. And not that you'd need it but it doesn't hurt to check the airfares, either. They are super-hot right now!
Walk around the downtown areas of your city, village or state. Tons of shopping, coffee bars and restaurants to check out, and you might stumble upon a live show or old fashioned theater. You can walk right past the mime, he won't notice!
Treat your ears to musical concerts and night clubs in your area. There are family-friendly venues all over town. For most outdoor concerts all you need are lawn chairs, drinks, jackets and a little bug spray to ward off the critters at dusk.
Scour the web and free papers to find local entertainment and festivals in your city. These change weekly and are great fun at a reasonable price.
If you want to go somewhere sans kids, trade babysitting or favors with friends and family and check out a comedy club or take a long bike ride or in line skate with your spouse, maybe even around the lake. Get real, the kids would be complaining about five minutes into this, and this will give you quality alone time together while building strength for your mind, body and marriage. Stop along the way for a romantic picnic or drippy ice cream cone.
Try a new dance or art class together. Often times these are free or low cost at the YMCA for a one-time deal just to try it on for size.
Tour breweries, wineries or attend a wine and cheese tasting in your area. Plenty of these await you across the country, and most are free if you don't splurge for goodies later on!
Whatever you decide, I am sure it will be fun. You are only limited by your time and creativity. Good luck! Let me know where you end up and what you did!