Exploring Close to Home: To Travel, You Don’t Always Need to Go Far

If you’re itching to get out and have an adventure, take some nice pictures, and have fun, but don’t have the time or money to hop on a plane to some exotic destination, just look to your own backyard! There are likely plenty of parks or cities nearby that you haven’t had a chance to explore, or maybe ones that you have, but still provide a good change of scenery. Trust me, there are ways to travel without going far from home!

You might have heard the term, “be a tourist in your own town” before, and thought, ‘How could I possibly find anything new to do in the same town I’ve lived in my whole life?’. Well, you probably can. I’m serious, get online and look up things to do in your area, or check out your town’s tourism website and just find something that sounds interesting. Then all you have to do is get out a map and go there!

Another thing to do is to just start driving. Grab a camera and hop in the car. You can either look at a map to find a nearby park or don’t–just drive. Maybe it sounds crazy, but even if you just take a road you don’t normally go on, you might find a great place to explore.

A couple weekends ago, my friend Anna, and I wanted to go take a hike somewhere, so we hopped in the car with my parents (and dog) to go out to the dunes at Meinert Park. Once we found the trail (which took a little looking), we set off hiking. It was freezing and very windy, but we still had a lot of fun. Anna and I immediately ran up to the highest dune to look out at the lake and take pictures. When my parents decided to head back to the car, we thought we would find a different way to get back! So we ran all the way down the dunes to the beach–and that little decision was what started what will forever be known as “the adventure.”

Once we got to the beach we realized we would have to find a place to cross the little river running between the lake and where our car was. We looked for places to get across as we slipped and fell on the invisible ice covering the sand, but every spot was just a little too far to jump! So Plan A was shot. Plan B was to climb onto the partially broken bridge a ways back from the lake, hoping that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. It was. And soon we were stuck climbing the same dune we had run down just 20 minutes before. It might sound like a bad turn of events, but really, that was what made it fun! We got to the car eventually after an extra mile or two of hiking, where we continued to laugh most of the way home while telling my parents what had happened.

If you have a little more time, say a weekend, find an interesting city/town an hour or two (or three or four if you want) away and book a hotel room. Or, for a more affordable and adventurous option, pack up your camping gear and pitch tent at a park campground. You can have a mini road trip!

Last summer I convinced my parents to take a short trip up to the U.P. to go camping and cliff diving. We spend a weekend where we kayaked along Pictured Rocks, hiked to numerous waterfalls, and of course, jumped off a couple cliffs! It was great!


No matter your budget or amount of time off, there is an adventure to be had! Don’t let the “travel is expensive” myth slow you down, and definitely don’t think you don’t have the time–just an hour or two one weekend can help clear your mind and partially fill that desire to travel!

4 Replies to “Exploring Close to Home: To Travel, You Don’t Always Need to Go Far”

  1. Nothing like discovering an adventure in your own backyard… totally underrated opportunity to find something cool!

  2. Jon Whitbeck says:

    Great story!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Enjoyed your story Phoebe. Glad you didn’t fall in that icy water!

  4. Love your spirit Phoebe!

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