It is amazing how many people haven’t visited the most popular restaurant or attraction in their home towns! We always want to get out of our town, in search of something more exciting. BUT, what if you could be a tourist in your own town, even if just for a day? This guide will help you with planning a vacation in your hometown!
Maybe you just can’t afford that trip to Europe this year, or you are saving up to buy a house but still have the travel bug. Sometimes traveling just isn’t in the cards, but that shouldn’t deter you from exploring and adventuring!
Maybe you live near a cool city that you can take a short road trip to, or maybe you already live somewhere cool! Even if you have lived there your entire life, chances are, you still haven’t done all the “touristy” things yet.
If you are planning a road trip, don’t forget these road trip essentials!
If you have a long weekend, or even just a day off, scratch that travel itch by taking some time to explore your own hometown!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Planning the Day
When planning a day of sightseeing in your own town, pretend like you don’t know anything about the area. Try to act as if you are planning an itinerary like you would for any vacation!
*For more information on vacation planning and a FREE itinerary guide, sign up for our newsletter for a free download!*
Search the top attractions and things to do in your city, and list any you haven’t done yet, or are interested in! Even if you have done the activity before, you can still do it again, especially if it has been awhile.
What is your town known for? Are there interesting museums in your area, or historic landmarks? Maybe there is a beautiful park nearby or a popular restaurant you have yet to eat at. Take note of anything interesting you find in your research-who knows, you might learn something cool about your city!
Take into consideration how long you plan your trip to be- will it be a day, night, or weekend? Make sure you have enough to fill your itinerary!
Also consider the season and weather, which could make or break your plans, especially if they are outdoor! Have some backup ideas in mind just in case!
Try not to stop home during the day if you can, for a more authentic vacation feel!
Make sure you do these things before leaving for vacation!
Check the Welcome Center
Another great tip for planning a vacation in your hometown is to check out the welcome center if your town has one! Welcome centers always have tons of brochures or pamphlets of attractions and things to do in the area.
Peruse the brochures, and take any that catch your eye. Who knows, you might find something you didn’t even know your town had! The brochures sometimes have coupons or discounts on them, which is a great way to save money on vacation!
Find a few things you are interested in doing on your stay-cation, and add them to the itinerary!
You can even ask the employees at the welcome center if they have any recommendations for you. Have fun with it, and pretend you are from a different state (or country!)
If your town does not have a welcome center, hotels often have brochures in the front lobby that you can take!
Stay the Night
A great way to make your hometown vacation feel authentic is to not go back home at night! While this isn’t always possible, if you have the ability to do this- you should!
Book a cute Airbnb in your town, or a bed and breakfast! You will get a broader perspective of your city by doing so, and it is a nice treat! Maybe book a fancy hotel room with a jacuzzi tub, or a cabin by a lake.
After a day of exploring your hometown, it will be nice to have a little getaway with your friends, family, or partner! You won’t have to worry so much about cleaning, doing laundry, or any of the other chores waiting for you at home.
If you need to stay home, see if you can make it feel like a vacation: have a family game night, cook a nice meal, or even pitch a tent in your living room! If it is warm enough, you could even camp in your back yard!
For more information on hotel booking, visit our cheap hotel guide!
Relax, and enjoy a little (close to home) getaway!
Research Local Events
When you have a date or weekend planned out for your mini getaway, research local events in your area. Depending on the season and time of year, there may be some fun concerts, festivals, or events going on!
Maybe there is a free concert downtown, a craft fair, a giant garage sale, or a beer tasting festival. If you are going around a holiday, chances are you will be able to find something!
Many cities have websites now that are dedicated to promoting events in the city. If your town does not have this, check out Facebook events, as many companies post their events there!
If there is nothing going on that is interesting to you, that is ok too! But, it doesn’t hurt to look and get some extra ideas!
Many times, you can find tickets for extremely low prices on Groupon, compared to their original costs!
If you can’t find any good deals, you might still find some activities or events you wouldn’t have known of otherwise that are interesting to you!
Keep an open mind, and do anything that catches your eye!
Find the Highest Viewpoint
For whatever reason, whenever we travel, we always seem to find ourselves viewing the city from above. It is an amazing way to get a different viewpoint of the place you are visiting, and there is something quiet and calm about being on top of the city.
Most likely, the tallest building in your area will have some kind of lookout or sky deck for visitors to explore. Chances are, you probably haven’t done this in your home town!
This is a great way to get a new perspective on your own city, and you can view everything from a whole new angle!
If your city does not have an observation tower, maybe take a helicopter tour, or a hot air balloon ride!
If you are afraid of heights- maybe sit this one out!
Take a Tour
Another great tip for planning a vacation in your hometown is to take a tour! Try to avoid seeing these tours as being “touristy” and try to enjoy it as if it is the first time you are in this city!
Many cities offer a variety of tours ranging from ghost tours to walking tours, to wine tours! Pick one (or more!) that suits your interests, and get touring!
Maybe there is a historical site you can tour, a guided museum tour, or even a boat tour!
If there are no guided tours in your area, make up your own! Maybe you bring an out of town friend along and take them on your own tour of the city. You will be surprised how much you know about where you live, you could probably do this as a job!
You can also make up your own wine tours or bar crawls with restaurants you’ve been wanting to try, or take a tour of the local parks!
Get creative with it, and most of all- have fun!
If you have a nice warm day during your mini getaway, consider taking a picnic at the local park! This is a great way to get some sunshine, fresh air, and have a nice meal with your friend, family, or partner!
Get a cute picnic basket, a bottle of wine, and make some deli sandwiches. Bring some grapes, some cheese and crackers, and a large blanket to lay on. Spend some time eating snacks and having great conversations!
You can even bring a frisbee, a football, or some cards! Bring a mini speaker and listen to some music during your time outdoors!
Maybe even bring your furry companion, and take a stroll around the park after your meal. Enjoy some birdwatching, go fishing, or even kayaking!
What exactly is your city known for? Is there a historic monument, a famous museum, or a popular area tourists visit? Maybe there is an old fort, an old church, or a historic statue. Maybe there is a giant statue of a weird animal that for some reason is iconic to your city!
Most cities pride themselves in their rich history, so you should have little trouble finding something historic or iconic!
If you are unsure, research online to see famous monuments in your area, and if you have not visited them, take some time to visit! Learn more about your city’s history and values, and explore the surrounding areas.
Do you know those “famous” restaurants in your town that are always flooded with tourists and out of towners? Now is the time to have a meal there!
If you haven’t visited these restaurants already, take the opportunity to eat a meal at one!
What kind of food is your city known for? What do they claim they have the “best” of? Find the most well-known restaurant to eat at for the best burger, or the best chicken wings, and judge for yourself!
If you have already eaten at all the “touristy” restaurants, find somewhere new to eat that you’ve always wanted to go to, or be spontaneous and eat something novel!
Who knows, you might just find your new favorite restaurant!
Of course, every good vacation has at least one day spent at a museum! If you are not into history, find a museum in your area that is unusual.
Maybe your home town is the creator of Crocs, or Jello or Tea! Do some research, and see what your town is known for! They will most likely have a museum dedicated to it!
Make sure to check out websites like Groupon, as they often have discounts to places like this. If you have a student ID, many museums offer discounts as well, which is a great way to save money while on vacation!
This is a good way to learn more about your city, while learning at the same time!
Our last tips for planning a vacation in your hometown is to take pictures!
Every vacation should be filled with memorable and silly photos of you and your friends, family, or partner! Take all the “classic” photos tourists take in your area and some shameless selfies!
A great way to take pictures on vacation is to use this Bluetooth selfie stick tripod! It might just be my favorite purchase of all time, and is perfect for taking your own pictures on vacation! Even if you are traveling solo, you will be able to take your own pictures instead of awkwardly asking someone to take a photo of you!
Learn more about how to take the best pictures on vacation!
Thank you for reading planning a vacation in your hometown! What other tips do you have to make a great stay-cation? Leave a comment below- we would love to hear from you!