Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that adventure is truly a state of mind. Whether I travel 5 miles or 5,000, there’s always something new to see and learn about. It’s easy to get caught up in the big trips to foreign lands, but Arizona has taught me that “foreign” can be a relative term (smile). This one state alone has rocky plains, sprawling deserts, deep canyons, high mountains, trees, cacti, waterfalls, wildlife – and that’s just scratching the surface. I’ve really had some wonderful adventures in this state over the last several years. But I’ve met so many people that insist that you must leave your “home” to get that true sense of adventure – they’ve simply never taken the time to look around or even consider what might be waiting for them just beyond their backyard. They’re always so surprised when I start naming various oddities to see around the area! So today I thought it would be fun to share some tips and tricks for finding your very own local adventures.
1. TripAdvisor or similar travel website. Pretend you are visiting your state or local area for the very first time. What would you normally do? Type your area into the TripAdvisor search (or the website of your choice) and see what you come up with. Sometimes it takes seeing your local area through the eyes of a non-local to truly appreciate the beauty and variety all around you!
2. Local travel books. Check your local book store for specialty books. I have a couple myself for Arizona – both Weird Arizona and Arizona Curiosities. I also have a photography book specific to this state/area, which has great photography tips and tells you where to go to get the shot – win/win (smile).
3. Search “__ attractions” in Google. Much like TripAdvisor, you can type in the name of your town, county, state, etc. in any search engine to find all sorts of information. It can be slightly less reliable than travel specific websites, but I find searching through the image results usually yields some interesting finds. Another Google trick – open Google Maps or Earth and just scroll around! I’ve found parks, monuments, etc. that I never knew existed before my little Google Maps adventure!
4. Ask your grandparents, parents, friends, or other locals. Sometimes there’s no substitution for experience. When I was younger, I was too busy playing or being “cool” to pay much attention to the stories my elders liked to tell. Now I realize just how fascinating their first hand knowledge can truly be. For instance, I personally like to visit old cemeteries. My grandparents usually know the cemetery, the church that used to be there, all about what happened to it, and why there is or is not a new one now in its place! And sometimes I even get a story about a resident of that cemetery – can’t beat that with a book! If you don’t have anyone specific to your family, ask some of the older locals – you’ll get a story and they’ll get a kick out of telling one (smile).
5. Get lost. Not in the mood to put in the research? Or simply don’t have the time? Get in the car and just drive! Get “lost” and follow your instincts. Some of the best finds are the places we don’t even know we’re looking for (smile). Keep an eye out for signs and/or historical markers. Usually where there’s one, there’s more! Just make sure you have some way of finding your way back to civilization at the end of your trip!
What’s your favorite way to find local adventures??