July 2, 2008

Staycations: Playing Hometown Tourist

(Part three of a five-part series this week)

This is a tough one as there's so much available within 25 miles of most people, things we've seen and said, "Sometime I'd like to check that out." But, we never do... until company comes and we have to play tourist in our hometown. So, even if you aren't expecting visitors right away, let's see what there is to do nearby.

First, let's talk about mindset and all those things that...well, they just aren't you. Auntie Alice, your favorite relative, is coming to visit next week. She's 79 and loves anything to do with music and art. Big John, your older brother will be along in early August and he's into cars and car racing as well as being a history buff expecially when it comes to WWII.

And then there's Bubbles, your still-exuberant, effervescent, and a bit exotic college roomie. She's into "experiences," the more daring the better. Oh, and don't let me forget, your son's friend Sergio from Spain, you know, the family he lived with during his junior year abroad, well, that friend is coming through and he loves the night life!

Okay, so what things would you plan to do with each of these guests?

Because Maine is such a summer-rich state with a gazillion free outdoor concerts, fairs, festivals. art shows, and so, so much more, it's not only hard to even begin to give you ideas, but I also need to keep in mind that, even if you don't live here, hopefully, your area offers this kind of bounty too.

Go to your nearest tourist information center and peruse all the brochures, even ones you think you'd have no interest in. After all, your "company" may have! Go online to your state and county chambers of commerce and tourist info sites. Check event listings online at radio, tv and newspaper sites, and in the many free local newspapers available just about everywhere these days.

For Auntie Alice, there are free outdoor concerts in settings from intown parks to seaside to village green. Bring a blanket, chairs, an elegant snack or picnic and enjoy. Many towns and cities now offer "art walk," once-a-month evenings when all the local galleries, artists, and even antique shops welcome visitors, some even providing music and light refreshment. Check out nearby college museums which often house unexpectedly deep collections. And finally, consider taking Auntie to a class, maybe paint-your-own pottery, island basket crafting, or even SAORI weaving.

Now for Big John, check out what's coming for car shows, especially those oldies nights of shine-and-show at the local burger joint. Here in Maine we're lucky enough to have several auto museums, and the Owl's Head Transportation Museum, covering all forms of transportation, is outstanding. They have vintage plane fly-ins, and their auto auction in August is a great day. We also have a number of short-track racing venues in this area. EVERYONE should go to at least one drag race in their lifetime and jet-cars-under-the-stars is a blast! In our area, as throughout our country, we have a number of military sites worth visiting, and especially here, some of the old coastal forts and fortifications. And one place Big John would be sure to enjoy (yup, IF you're visiting Maine) is Eagle Island, Admiral Peary's home.

Bubbles will be fun to host because possible adventures abound in the summer! There's white-water rafting, which isn't terribly expensive and is most definitely an experience! (I almost drowned the last time I went.) There's panning for gold, and digging for native gems, which here in Maine is likely to be tourmaline. You can rent canoes or kayaks, and a moonlight canoe trip can be magical. Spend a day out on the water with a local lobsterman, eating your catch at day's end. Downhill biking on ski runs is more than I could manage, but hey! if Bubbles is up to it, great! This doesn't even BEGIN to suggest all that's available, but one more idea if you do find yourself in Maine this summer: Gulf Hagis, often called The Grand Canyon of Maine is an absolutely spectacular hike!

And finally, just when you've had quite enough company, thank you! along comes Sergio from Seville. He likes the night life. Now for me, this would be a serious challenge... first staying awake past 8 at night, then the music, the chaos, the drinking... oh, this is SOOOO not my scene!

I'd take him to the local comedy club, and then I'd find some suitable guides, maybe a foreign student group from the University, for checking out the other nearby 20-something haunts. A cop-out? Sure and no qualms either! Be very aware of Sergio's age and make sure any helpers you enlist are of legal drinking age...just in case. Now, I will be the one who's sympathetic the next morning with all sorts of home remedies for whatever may ail our guest!

There is an incredible number of things to sample on your staycation as a hometown tourist. If some possibility just does not appeal to you, then that's the very thing you simply must do!

Tomorrow we look at ways to come together with family, friends and your larger community for the very best staycation fun!


1 comment:

DesignOnline said...

Mary! There is a letter Box at the Hammond Castle!