Need to get away but you’re a bit short on cash? Try a stay-cation, the trendy term for vacationing right where you are. Have you seen all there is to see in the state where you live? If you haven’t, become a tourist and see what your state has to offer that you’ve been missing all these years. You will likely discover new favorite haunts or rediscover old ones. No matter what you do, you will be taking a break without spending too much money. To get you started, here are some ideas of places to go no matter which of the 50 states you call home.
Visit the South the way it used to be by going to Old Alabama Town, the proud home of more than 40 period homes of 1800-1900. Don’t miss the Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board with a bird sanctuary and more.
See an actual glacier by boat, cruise line or even by car. If you plan your trip in January, be sure you don’t miss the northern lights, or aurora borealis. The best views are from small villages like Talkeetna.
If you don’t want just the usual tourist experience, take a Sacred Earth Tour while you’re in Sedona. If you are up north in Flagstaff, go to the Wupatki National Monument and learn about the pueblo life of the Anasazi Tribe.
Go to Hot Springs National Park for 47 hot springs and a visitor’s center so you’ll know how therapeutic these waters can be. Pea Ridge National Military Park in the town of Rogers has kept this area true to the conditions it saw during the Civil War, circa 1862.
Berkeley has a beautiful Botanical Garden at the University of California. Refresh yourself with a tour through over 8,000 examples of natural vegetation. California’s capital, Sacramento, has an amusement park called Fairytale Town; take the kids and enjoy the day.
See Grand Mesa while you’re in the area. It is the world’s biggest flat-topped mountain. If you’re into shopping and people watching, and you are anywhere near Boulder, swing by the Pearl Street Mall. Enjoy the street performers while you are there.
The Official Naval Submarine Museum is located in Groton. Find out all about the Nautilus by planning a visit there. The museum is closed each Tuesday. Connecticut also hosts a renowned flower and garden show. See all the beauties from talented landscape designers.
Dover boasts a well-loved Chocolate Festival with all kinds of attractions. Admission is only $5; this year it is in November. The Christina Cultural Arts Center in Wilmington is a good place to enjoy acappella gospel music, theater and even dance.
Dolphin World allows you to be able to swim with the dolphins. Fantasy of Flight is said to be the world’s best aircraft collection, with a very large private collection too.
The Wild Animal Safari is 500 acres of wildlife heaven. Enjoy this popular spot with your family. You can go tubing on the scenic Chattahoochee River with the Cool River Tubing Company Tour.
If you are on Maui, try ziplining. Try seeing this beautiful island from any of the 4 gorgeous zipline trails. The Arizona Memorial is a tribute to the event that drew the U.S. into WWII – the attack on Pearl Harbor.
See the one of-a-kind Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco. If you’d like to take an active vacation, try out the Boise River Greenbelt, with a 25 mile bicycle/pedestrian path, or 850 acres of wildlife and scenery for a beautiful road trip.
The Fox River Trolley Museum offers a 3 mile tour of the Fox River in an old fashioned trolley. Giving you a different branch of U.S. history, is Collinsville’s Cahokia State Park, one of the largest Native American Burial Grounds. See Indian artifacts at the museum.
South Bend is the home of Notre Dame, so if you’re there take some time to tour this beautiful campus and impressive cathedral. Fort Wayne has a top notch children’s zoo for the whole family to visit.
The Amana Colonies is a group of 7 genuine villages settled by Germans who have held to their culture and crafts and you can see these period settlements. Participate in a Geocaching trek by getting a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and using your GPS to locate the cache. Doesn’t that sound like a fun experience?
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park is a highly recommended stop if you have preschoolers and elementary school aged children. There are petting zoos and all kinds of child-centered activities. Try out the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum when you’re in Abilene. You will enjoy the many exhibits at this impressive location.
Stop by the Yeiser Art Center for displays of African, Asian, European and American art from the 1800’s and 1900’s. Kentucky also has a Reptile Zoo where you can see all manner of reptiles and even have your picture taken with an alligator.
Tour along the Creole Nature Trail National Scenic Byway for a view of rugged vistas – so wild it is knows as Louisiana’s Outback. Experience antics of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. You’ll see jousters, jugglers, comedians, singing pirates and so much more at this event.
Take a sailing trip with the Maine Windjammer Association on your own sailing vessel. Plan to see the Company A, 3rd Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry Fife and Drum Corps perform by checking their schedule before you visit this state.
Check out the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Ocean City. This one is bound to be a hit. Each family member can become a pirate thanks to tattoos, face paint and the like at Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Revel in pirate activities on this pleasure cruise.
Demarest Lloyd State Park is an ideal beach spot for families. Buzzard’s Bay is a shallow and calm inlet of water for the little ones, and you’ll all like the 1800 feet of beach to enjoy. Make a note to stop by Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Ma. They have 3 museums and lots of walking paths – there is sure to be something for everyone here.
Jollay Orchards is more than just a bunch of fruit trees. Use their picnic area, playground or orchard trails for a fun outing. If you’re in the mood to fish, canoe, hunt or boat try Alcona Park near the Huron National Forest.
Spirit Mountain, near Duluth, is perfect if you are a family of skiers. They have slopes suited to all skill levels. Minneapolis hosts the Magical History Tour where you will be shown all the sites and learn the history of the area.
Make an appointment to see the heavens thanks to the Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium. If you only have a few minutes in Vicksburg to go somewhere new, try out the small museum where Coca-Cola was first bottled – the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is definitely worth a stop. Beautiful mosaics formed from 41 million pieces of tile. If you’d like a singing show full of liveliness, see the Haygoods in Branson. They are a top-rated show.
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a spot that is so utterly beautiful you won’t want to miss it. Bozeman hosts the Museum of the Rockies where you can learn about history in the west and see dinosaurs and more.
The Nebraska State Fair is quite a get-together. Join in for this 11 day extravaganza. See fossils from way back in the Miocene epoch at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.
Visit Churchill County Museum for all kinds of info and artifacts about the tribes of Native Americans, the Emigrant Trail, the famous Pony Express and more. If you’d like to see Lake Tahoe, try M.S. Dixie II tours – voted to be the best way to see Tahoe.
- New Hampshire
The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen have several galleries where you can see exhibits, demos, handiwork and learn all kinds of things about these crafters’ work. If you’d like to take the kids to an art gallery you’re sure they will enjoy, go to Wingdoodle in Warner. Here they encourage participation as you learn the art of zentangle.
- New Jersey
The Turdo Vineyards and Winery will give you a taste and feel for some award winning wine. If your in the Garden State, you will really miss out if you don’t take a tour of Princeton, an impressive campus. The Princeton Tour Company offers all kinds of ways to see the area.
- New Mexico
The Double E Guest Ranch will give you a feel for what it was like to be a cowboy in the west. The New Mexico Mining Museum is the only place in the world where you can see underground uranium mining, plus artifacts and gems.
- New York
To find out what the locals know, and really get the best of New York, go on the Real New York Tour – it will be New York at its best. Ground Zero Museum Workshops offers a view of artifacts from Sept 11th for you to see. You’ll be glad you made time to see this.
- North Carolina
Lake Wheeler Park gives you a chance to slow down and enjoy your trip. You can picnic, play volleyball, boat, canoe, or just relax in the club house at this good family spot. If you’re in Charlotte you might enjoy a trip to the NASCAR museum, complete with interactive displays, a restaurant and a store.
- North Dakota
Visit the North Dakota Heritage Center is a well-rated museum that visitors enjoy. For a view you won’t see anywhere else, stop at Painted Canyon Overlook on your way to Teddy Roosevelt National Park.
Franklin Park Conservatory is a relaxing garden spot for you to enjoy in Columbus. While in Dayton you may want to go to an event at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Art Center. You will relish a performance at this venue.
Plan to visit the Will Rogers Memorial – complete with a kid’s section for your family. Summer is the best time to pay a visit to Selman Bat Cave – a one of a kind stop.
You can go fishing for salmon on the beautiful Columbia River. The Portland Japanese Garden is open all year for you to wander and drink in the tranquility.
Did you know that the Hershey company is based in Pennsylvania? You can plan an entire day to visit the factory and amusement park in Hershey, PA. Another great place to go is the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
- Rhode Island
The Cliff Walk is a rocky trail with a variety of view. Try it out if you are in Newport. Visit the Slater Mill Historic Site for a tour of a textile mill given by guides dressed in period costume.
- South Carolina
If you’d like to see dolphins or participate in water sports, try the outdoor adventure company of Hilton Head. Another enjoyable place to go is the Boone Hall Plantation – a working farm and plantation.
- South Dakota
While you’re in this state, you really should go to Wind Cave; it is among the largest series of caves in the world. For any who would like a big taste of wildlife, go to Bear Country USA, a drive-through park where you can see elk, deer, bears and more.
The Tennessee Aquarium, along the banks of the Chattanooga, is well worth seeing. You can see all the sights of nature by going on the Walk in the Woods tour if you are in Gatlinburg. Enjoy the Smoky Mountains during this easy walking tour.
Houston has a Space Center that combines the best of NASA and Disney for a wonderful day out with the kids. All who are into arts are certain to enjoy a visit to Deep Ellum, known as the little New Orleans of Texas. Find museums, artists and musicians as you wander around the arty district.
Try out White Water Rafting in Moab, or go for a bike ride in the midst of all the red rocks. If you visit in the winter, find out just what Rocky Mountain powder is all about at any of the various ski resorts. If you’d prefer, snow mobiles are easy to rent at any winter resort.
Be sure to go to the Hathaway Farm Corn Maze. You can enjoy a sit down in this maze here and there, so it’s tiring rather than taxing. One of the most scenic byways is the Mad River Byway, letting you see the beauties of the state along Routes 100 and 100B.
Get lost in the fun of a real life maze at the Garden Maze. While you’re in Luray, there is a bell tower and a cavern to see too. A visit to the Jamestown Settlement will help you know what the pilgrims’ lives were like.
Take a ferry to the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound for a relaxing visit. Another interesting thing to see is the Point Wilson Lighthouse, maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.
- West Virginia
Discover the Midland Trail – nearly 120 miles of striking south central West Virginia terrain. Another great thing to do is the O Be Joyfull Historical Tour if you are in Harper’s Ferry. You’ll get a flavor of the music from the Civil War and from the Irish who settled the area.
Look around while you are in the town of Olney, you’re sure to spot one of 111 white squirrels that live in this town. Enjoy nature at the state’s largest waterfall, Big Manitou Falls, famous for stunning views. Don’t miss out on Wisconsin cheese while you’re there – try the Wisconsin Cheeseman Outlet store to see why this state is so renowned for this dairy product.
Plan to visit Cody, Wyoming to learn all about Buffalo Bill and his wild west show. For a bit of whimsy, stop by Douglas to learn about the jackalope – the mythical critter that has become associated with Wyoming.
As you can see, each state has something different to offer if you choose to go and see it. Plan your trips around the best your destination provides and it is will be a memorable vacation, whether you are just down the road or traveling from shore to shore. Get out there and see the world, even if it is just a small corner of the state you call home; you won’t regret it.
Margo Smith is a graduate of Brigham Young University. She enjoys writing about a variety of subjects from crafting to online schools to paleontology. She draws from her own education, her years in college and an author’s perspective on life when compiling articles.