I would love to travel the world most of the year without any worries of finances and responsibilities. But then I remember my student loans and other obligations and wake up from that fantasy. I try to have at least one international trip a year. Ideally, I would travel internationally on a quarterly basis. In the meantime, I fulfill my wanderlust desires with what I call ‘local adventures’.
Here are local things I do to explore my state’s ‘backyard’ and have domestic escapades (sounds exciting, right):
Wine tastings- This has become a year-round local adventure for us. My husband and I have a wine circuit that we attend on most Saturdays. There are three wine stores that are all within five miles of our home (Quarry Wine & Spirits, Vineyard’s Elite and the Wine Loft) . We have become regulars. There are normally 4-6 wines that are sampled and sometimes they sample a liquor. These tastings are FREE! Some of the stores offer a discount on the wines in the tasting. Of course, I usually buy a bottle or more at the time of the tasting. If you do not like any of the featured wines, you have the option to pick one of your personal favorites within the store. I have learned how to pair wines during the seasons and for various holidays based on these tastings. It’s been a relaxing, fun and informative pastime. (P.S. Most of the other tasters are friendly and chatty. This is a good way to practice talking the lingo of wine in a stress-free environment, lol. It is not that necessary but it is an option).
Waterside dining and exploring- Most cities have a harbor or area where you can have a view of open water. In my area, there is Annapolis and Baltimore Harbor. The waterfront in Washington DC is also an option (but parking can be a hassle). I particularly enjoy the Annapolis area because there are several seafood restaurants with yummy food, a small ‘downtown’ commercial area to walk around and water taxis. The water taxis are a small but neat attraction to me. They only cost a few bucks and can take you to several restaurants in the vicinity. You can take in the private boats and people watch.
Vineyard visits– Most states have vineyards that welcome local traffic. No, the wine may not be the same quality as French wine or the big taste of Napa Cabs but you may be surprised at what you find. The local wineries are normally friendly and welcome visitors for tastings. I’ll probably post a future blog on the Maryland wineries I have visited. The most recent winery that I enjoyed was the Old Westminster Winery. They have food trucks and live music during the summer. The tasting room is nice and the wines were good! Check out their website for fall events!
Wine and Canvas- In the past year, this has become a super fun pastime for me. I’ve been on several of these with my husband friends. A few weeks ago, I had an awesome time at one of these places with my cousins. The wine can help you relax and not overthink your masterpiece! 😊
Museums– The Washington DC area has a large number of museums that have free entrance. The Smithsonian museums could keep you busy for MONTHS! I personally enjoy the National Portrait Gallery. Parking can be annoying but remember most of the entry fees are FREE! There is so much culture to enjoy. There are also the many monuments that you can enjoy. Many people enjoy this area year-round! If you decide to come during a particular seasonal event, such as the National Cherry Blossom Festival (from mid-March to mid-April), be prepared for big crowds and lines. A cool rainy day may be a perfect time to visit any Smithsonian museum. Most are open on Sundays too! Check out their websites.
Bus Tours- I am a fan of the Hop On/Hop Off bus tours. These tour buses normally allow you to cover a decent amount of a city without having to drive yourself around and fight for a parking space. Many bus tours also have personable drivers who give interesting and informative information about the city you are visiting. If you want to stop and explore a particular stop, you can jump off the bus and explore/grab a bite to eat (yes, I talk about food a lot). My husband and I had a ‘staycation’ a few years ago and enjoyed the Old Town Trolley Tour bus. They have several lines that will take you around most of Washington DC and a few places in Northern Virginia. I learned after we booked that they had a local discount (for individuals from the DMV area). Be sure to ask if this is still in effect!!
Other things to consider- Food trucks, Local Festivals and road trip to your neighboring states.
I have included things that I enjoy doing. Yes, there is a strong focus on wine (because I am a self-proclaimed wino). 😊Check out your local newspapers, online searches and word of mouth for events in your hometown. I have learned to appreciate my ‘staycations’ and try to make the most of exploring domestic landmarks (both big and small). These local adventures won’t buy you a stamp in your passport but can equally create a memorable experience!! Please share any domestic travel or local adventures that you’ve discovered in the comment section below!!! Safe and happy travels!