Thursday, May 21, 2009

Staycation favorites

During a recent interview for the Candy & Potter radio show in North Carolina, I was asked about my favorite staycation activities. After that, I decided to put a together a quick list. Every staycationer's preference will be different, but here's my list.

For families:

Behind-the-scenes tours
Formal ones are available at company museums and factories, as well as at fire stations and police stations. But if parents ask nicely, they can also get their kids a tour of a movie theater projection room, the pinsetters at a bowling alley or other places kids are curious about. Television stations, radio stations and newspaper production facilities also offer tours.

Museums, observatories, planetariums
Art, science, children’s, aviation, history … there are lots to choose from, and most have areas dedicated to kids. My kids spent nearly two hours at just one exhibit involving golf balls rolling up and down hills to show the science of rollercoasters. A new trend is the museum sleepover, a program aimed at preteens and teenagers.

Scenic train rides
Ranging from about 30 minutes long to day trips, they can be a romantic idea for adults but they also often cater to kids. Some have pretend “train robberies” and other shows.

Water parks
They’re easier to find now than they used to be, because many cities have built them as part of their recreation centers and natatoriums. Community swimming pools are another option.

Zoos and aquariums
Young kids love the zoo, of course, and there are some very good aquariums around the country. Many zoos also offer behind-the-scenes “VIP” tours and have special camp programs for kids.

The next five:
Sporting events (as well as stadium tours)
Camping (as well as hiking, biking, wilderness viewing areas, state parks)
Regional amusement parks
City festivals
Family fun centers (with bowling, miniature golf, go karts, laser tag, that sort of thing).

Especially for adults:

Sunset cruises on lakes (usually with dinner)
Wine-tasting and winery tours
Community theater and touring Broadway productions
Historic home tours
Ski-lift rides in offseason
Staying at a local resort for a few days
In-town Bed and Breakfasts

*** "The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)" is now available. You can find it in stores or online.

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