As most of you know, I reside in Orange County central to everything exciting to do in Southern California. But what you might not know is that when I have time in between trips I have to do something or I’ll burst. Traveling for me is like a drug, its fun but it does take its toll on your wallet. To fill the void I highly recommend travelers explore the places around where they live as I’ve learned to do.
1. History Lesson
You can do as much research as you want to. I know a lot of people are not too fond of reading but I have found that looking into the history of where you live is like learning its genealogy. Make a trip to the local library and ask the clerk if there are any books or pamphlets you can look into. Another idea is going online and searching Google looking for articles or even going straight to the source by going to your county’s official home page. History was one of my favorite subjects in school so I just went right to Barnes & Noble and picked up a book and added to my own personal library and added it to my own personal library.
When doing so you’ll find not only the history so you can become more knowledgeable about the place you call home but you’ll find historical sites and museums that you can visit. And here’s the great thing: most of them are free for the public! Note: Keep in mind that some locations are only available for tours by making an appointment ahead of time.
2. Anyone Hungry?
Looking to try a new restaurant nearby? Keep an eye out for new restaurants having their grand openings, sometimes they offer special discounts to introduce visitors to their location. Another way to find a new restaurant to try is by going online to www.opentable.com. You can read the reviews and book a reservation at the same time!
If you didn’t catch my Seinfeld reference right away that’s what it is from. During a holiday episode, George Castanza’s dad celebrates his own holiday called “Festivus.” You too can have your own “Festivus” by planning out your day trips around the holiday of the month. Growing up the daughter of a 6th grade teacher, my mom would theme everything we did, this made for some wonderful family memories that I will never forget.
Take the month of October for example and ask yourself these simple questions:
What do I think of when I think of the month of October? Halloween
What seasonal food goes with October? Pumpkins
Where do they grow that specific item? Pumpkin patches
Is there a place I can go to get that food item? In a restaurant/spa/activity? Restaurant – new bakery, Spa – pumpkin facial, Activity – pumpkin patch, cornfield mazes
Now take a look at your answers, you just brainstormed a bunch of ideas on where to go. You can then type up a list of these places so you know what to do the next year if you’re looking for a new family tradition, my mom and I did and it was very helpful for the both of us.
4. Be Adventurous
This goes without saying but…the key to discovering new things to do in your area is to be adventurous; never be afraid to try something new. If an outing is too much out of your comfort zone build your way up to it by picking places to go closer to your home and then expand it one baby step at a time.
Be aware that you might not enjoy every place you go to, it’s okay to be disappointed. The trick is to learn to not get easily frustrated but to simply learn to work with it and mentally cross the place off your list. You don’t want to ruin your day after all by getting upset, besides there might be a charming little discovery right next door—and you won’t go if you’re upset.
5. Sports Anyone?
I’m not into sports (what did I say about comfort zones – baby steps, baby steps) but I do enjoy some outdoor activities. As I said earlier, Orange County is central to everything to do in Southern California. Some suggestions would be to find a new park you’ve never been to and try a new hiking trail or even just trying a new outdoor sport, my goal is try paddle boarding as well as surfing. Not only does it get you outside during great weather but it also keeps you healthy and active.
6. Wilderness Explorer
To pair your trip to a new park, try adding a visit to their nature center, if they have one. This is even a great outing for kids as most nature centers include crafts and learning activities about the plants and animals that can be seen in the park. Some even offer hikes so you can see the animals in their natural habitat.
7. And the award goes to…
I may not be into sports but I love visual and performing arts! If you’re looking for a new experience try a new movie theater (i.e. drive-in), go to a film festival if you’ve never been to one, a concert or the local talent (jazz festivals are very popular where I live), or go see a show at your local community or professional theatre.
8. Yelp it!
If you’re uncertain about the business or service you’re about to use, then Yelp it! Unless you’re unfamiliar with the site it’s www.yelp.com. Yelp provides wonderful clarity for me on businesses I’m about to use for their services. Note: Reviews can be helpful but they can also be misleading. Sometimes the people who post their review are not professionals and do not take the time to understand the business before accusing them of any wrong doings.
I hope my post has been helpful and answers some of your questions about planning day trips close to your home. The more you explore, the easier the planning process becomes and they become mini-vacations. Before you know it, you’ll feel like a tourist right in the comfort of your home!