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My family takes a lot of day trips. I love them because they allow us to satisfy our wanderlust while stretching our travel budget. They are a great way to spend a weekend, especially when you don’t have the time or money for a longer trip. By including them in your travel plans, you can have some fun family experiences in between longer trips. But, I find that it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what to do on day trips in your home area because it is so easy to overlook some amazing experiences. To help you find the perfect day trip for your family to take this weekend, use these day trip ideas to spark your creativity and get you seeing your neck of the woods in a whole new light.
#1 Find a local attraction you’ve never done.
Many times we overlook popular attractions in our own backyard in favor of those further away. So, the first of our day trip ideas is to find a local attraction you’ve never done and make a day of it. It can either be a popular tourist spot or a hidden gem. Regardless of what it is, you will learn something new about your hometown while getting to experience something you’ve never done before. And don’t forget about seasonal offerings too!
#2 Pick a location within a 2-3 hour drive and go explore.
Take the above idea a step further by picking out a location that is within a 2-3 hour drive from your home and spend the day exploring. Grab a map and see what’s nearby. Then, pick a spot and go. You can either explore an entire town or just an attraction or two. To make this even more fun, let your kids pick the location. This is a great way to get them involved in your trip planning.
#3 Visit a national park or monument close to home.
Every state in the nation has national parks and/or monuments. Find one (or more) near your home and head out on a day trip. Visiting national parks and monuments are great ways to learn about this country’s natural resources and history. They also wonderful places for your family to get out into nature and enjoy some fresh air and time together. To find a national park near you, go to the National Park Service’s website.
My family recently spent a day hiking the Catwalks in the Gila National Forest. We had so much fun and saw some beautiful scenery. It was a fantastic day trip for us. Even though my son was complaining about going at the start of the day, he was begging us to go back by the end!
#4 Check out your state’s unique offerings.
Every state has unique things to see and do. So, if you are looking for day trip ideas, check out some of these offerings. Take a look at onlyinyourstate.com to find some cool things nearby to get out and see. This website is a great place to start your research into day trips for you and your family to take. And, if you are anything like me, you will find some things on this website that you never knew before!
#5 Start driving & see where the day takes you.
One of my favorite day trip ideas is to just get in the car and start driving. See where the day takes you! You never know what you will stumble upon to do! Just pick a direction and take off. When you see something interesting, stop and explore. You can also use this as an opportunity to visit some of your old stomping grounds!
When I was little, my mom and grandparents did this a lot. Sometimes, we would find ourselves dropping in to visit at the home of an old friend and sometimes we would discover a new restaurant to try. I learned many things about my family history on these spontaneous outings!
#6 Explore some local history.
Speaking of history, another great idea for a day trip is to explore some local history. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can head to a local museum focused on the area, seek out historical markers around town, or take a trip to your local library. It can be fascinating for kids and adults to dive into the history of their hometown, especially if your family has lived in the same area for generations. If you are new to an area, exploring local history can help you feel more connected to your new home.
#7 Head to a nearby state/local park.
While national parks are great, state and local parks can be just as fun. And sometimes, these parks will be closer to home, making them easier to access on a spur-of-the-moment day trip. There are so many things you can do at state and local parks with your family to create lasting memories. If the weather is nice, pack a lunch and head out to a nearby park for a family picnic. If you’ve never done something like this before, your kids are sure to be thrilled with the new adventure! You can also go for a hike if there are trails in your park of choice. Hiking with kids can be a wonderful way to bond with your family and get some exercise in at the same time. Plus, your kids will love exploring nature to see what they can find. Another fun thing to do at a local or state park is to fly a kite with your kids. And if you want to turn your day trip into a weekend trip, grab your tent and camp for the night at the park. Just be sure to check the rules of the park to make sure it’s ok to camp there.
#8 Make your own local’s guide.
If you have lots of friends and family that live far away but that come to visit often, take some day trips when you don’t have company to “research” your own local’s guide. Use it as an excuse to try a bunch of local restaurants. Visit your town’s museums, galleries, and other attractions. Go see the sights around town. Then, when you have company, you will be an expert at showing them the can’t-miss eateries and attractions! Your kids will love being the official family tour guides when guests come into town and will be super proud of themselves for having so much knowledge to share!
Sometimes, when we are limited on time and funds to travel, we can get depressed about the situation. But, instead of seeing this as a negative, look at it as your chance to fulfill your wanderlust with day trips around your local area. I hope these day trip ideas are getting you excited about exploring your familiar surroundings in a whole new way! And don’t forget that you can use these ideas while on longer trips in addition to being at home too! For more staycation ideas, see how to plan the perfect staycation, creative staycation ideas for kids, and what to do when you can’t travel. And for ideas on how to afford better vacations, see how to take amazing vacations on any budget and practical tips for saving for vacation. Happy travels!
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