Yesterday, the kids and I had the opportunity to have one last fun day before school started. We’ve lived here a year, but haven’t really had the chance to go to some of the local places, so I tried to pick two that would work for our massive age span. I think we found winners.
The first was an animal ranch/park that had a variety of exotic animals. We took a wagon ride around and the driver would tell us about the animals and then stop to give us a chance to feed them. We had buckets of food and “if it has 2 legs, feed it from the bucket. If it has 4, feed it from your hand.” We saw some animals we’ve seen before and some we hadn’t. We got to touch the animals and Blue even got a good tongue lashing from a large, horned animal of some sort!
After the wagon ride, we played on the playground for a while and then ate a picnic lunch at the tables. Last was the necessary trip to the gift shop. They each had $1 to spend (I’m generous aren’t I?) and amazingly everyone found something!
Next up was a local train museum. We rode a real train (as opposed to something built just for gimmicky touristy rides) and toured an old working steam engine station/shops. The history was interesting. We saw a real roundhouse and rode one of only 3 working turntables in the US! We’re going to have to go back and spend more time so that the readers of the bunch can actually read more of the history. What we did gather, however, makes me want to learn more.
Which made me think – what if we all approached our own towns and counties like local tourists? I know the term “staycation” has become popular, but how much do we actually know about the local history and attractions in our communities? What if we learned more, brought a friend and spent our dollars at home? In this economy, historical places are really struggling. Local history is scraping by, trying to stay alive. What if we helped?
I know that I want to go back to both of the places we visited. I know that I want to learn more about the train history in my community. Heck, I may even buy a family membership so that we can go anytime. I want to find more local attractions to take my family too. It’s better for my community; I’m supporting local jobs and helping preserve local history. It’s better for my wallet; I’m spending less on gas, no hotel, no eating out.
So I guess my challenge is this… Visit your communities tourism website/office. Pick up some brochures. Have you seen all those sites? Have you visited all those places? Have you walked the historic trail and learned about the history?
Well pick a day and go do something local.
You’ll be glad you did.