I recently began following an interesting blogger named Key West Lou, and happily anticipated reading staycation types of stories about his life in Key West. I was surprised to learn his current series of daily posts focused not on my favorite getaway locale, but on his travels in the Mediterranean. As a travel lover and writer interested in others’ perspective on things, I find his articles as enjoyable as those he may write about Key West. However, the idea that someone living in a tropical oasis such as the Conch Republic finds the need to venture away for a vacation, leads me to believe we often take our hometowns for granted, no matter how exotic or popular they may be with tourists.

Anyone who travels east on the Long Island Expressway on a Friday afternoon or west on a Sunday evening in the summer knows all to well how many thousands of city dwellers trek from New York for a weekend in the comparative country, attracted by the beautiful beachfront of Dune Road and Hamptons nightlife or the quaint country fairs and rustic vineyards. At the same time, millions of tourists travel to The Big Apple each year, drawn by its frenetic energy, cultural events, shopping, and dining.

It’s normal, I suppose, to want to explore others’ hometowns.

Being a Long Islander by choice rather than by birth, I’ve dragged my husband and kids to many touristy places, especially the first decade after moving here. We visited the Montauk and Fire Island lighthouses, the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, Northfork wineries, local and state parks, and numerous beaches.

Smith’s Point Beach in the Summer

One of my favorite public beaches is Smith’s Point. An Atlantic Ocean beach like the more famous and tourist beach of Jones Beach in Nassau County, it’s also a perfect place for a staycation. Unfortunately, our family has yet to take advantage of more than its sand, surf, and concession stand for a few hours at a clip. Live local bands perform there six hours every Sunday during the summer. Have we ever been? No, but maybe it’s time we go.

Smith’s Point Park has a camping site, too, which brings to mind childhood memories of growing up in the Adirondacks. When I was in middle school, my mother convinced my dad to buy a pop-up camper, and we were off to local camping sites on summer weekends. We often stayed within an hour of our home (Although we once traveled as far as Pemaquid Point, Maine–the first time I ever saw the Atlantic Ocean.), but it was a break from the ordinary.

My parents knew the value of a staycation long before the term became fashionable in 2008. They realized that beauty and leisure could be found in their own hometown, and they took advantage of it. I’m thankful they did. Some of my best memories with my little brother and parents are from those days at various KOA campsites. Perhaps I’ll share a few with you someday soon. In the meantime, here’s a Consumer Reports article, Tips for the Best Staycation, you may find useful when considering what types of places to explore in your region.

Have you ever had a staycation? Do you enjoy your local attractions and amenities as much as a visitor to your hometown would? What childhood vacation or staycation memories are dear to your heart?


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Glover
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 11:03:45

    You’ve touched a nerve, Jolyse! 🙂 I married a San Antonio, Texas native. At first, I was thrilled to think of visiting his family. I figured we’d go to the Riverwalk, visit museums, see some shows, eat great Mexican food, etc. But alas, he was a native. When I suggested certain things, he said, “Why do I want to do that? Those are all touristy,” to which I replied, “I AM A TOURIST.” LOL.

    We have over the years enjoyed parts of San Antone, but we’ve done more there since having kids and wanting them to see things. (Yes, they’ve been to the Alamo.) As for my current hometown, the nearest big attraction is Space Center Houston, and we kind of take that for granted because we know umpteen people who work in the space industry. Seeing a rocket isn’t that astounding, even to my kids. Sad, huh? We need to take some day trips!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 11:51:46

      I hear you, Julie! My husband rarely ventures into NYC with me. I, however, will never get over my fascination with that big city. Perhaps because I grew up in a very rural area. The Alamo is a must-see for me when I travel to The Lone Star State one day. I’d want to see the space center, too. Hard to imagine rockets for granted. Thanks for stopping by, as always, and I look forward to hearing about a few of your day trips this summer.

  2. Maggie Van Well
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 11:34:15

    Oh goodness, do I take my hometown for granted. I live on Long Island also (love my chapter mates!) and I’ve never been to Time’s Square on New Year’s Eve, never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and for 9 years I lived 2 miles from Smith Point Park, and maybe went a handful of times (although, there were many a sunset I went to see the deer on my way home from shopping)

    Why? I love to travel and we rarely did when I was a kid. I’ll go anywhere. Heck I went to the Northwest Territories in November (-45 degrees is something everyone should experience!) So no, staycations for me. I’m going out!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 11:49:20

      You traveled to the Northwest Territories, Maggie? That’s awesome. I’d love to hear all about it, including photos. Was it a trip of the heart or research for a story, or both?

      I doubt we’ll ever go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve–too much waiting, too cold, and too many people. I cannot imagine being penned in like that for hours. I would like to see the Macy’s Day Parade, however, especially if I had a hotel room overlooking the parade route. That’s the way to do it, from what my friends tell me.

      Awww, I love my LIRW chapter mates too. Hope you’re enjoying your summer. 🙂

  3. lynnerose
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 13:17:48

    Hi, Jolyse. Book that T-Day hotel room now if you want to go in two years. I’ve heard that’s the only way to get one right over the route.
    I’m a native Long Islander, but we’ve done a lot here as well as traveled all over the states. When I was little we made the trek to Montauk (and still do); when I was older we camped at Smith’s Point, Blydenburgh, and Wildwood. And we take advantage of a lot of LI museums and free concerts. I am lucky enough to be a short hop to either shore for the beaches. Two more goals, with older kids now: The New York Aquarium and Splish Splash. I also love to take trips into the city, and every few months I gather whoever wants to go and we pick a section to see in a day. This summer we’re going up to Strawberry Fields and the Central Park Zoo. And always, always, the M&M store. You have to keep up your energy for these treks, you know!
    Happy Staycations!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 16:06:19

      Oh, Lynne! That’s wonderful to hear. We took the kids to Splish Splash a number of times and enjoyed it a lot. You can bring your own picnic foods too, if you want to use their picnic area instead of purchasing food in the park (At least this was the policy a few years ago.)

      We are Broadway fans at my home, so we mostly go into the city for the theatre and great restaurants. We occasionally will attend an MSG event, too, since it’s so easy traveling on the LIRR to Penn. No worries about taxis or getting lost. I like your idea of visiting different sections. I’ve always been interested in Little Italy and Chinatown, as well as Southstreet Seaport, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe this summer?

      Did someone say chocolate??

  4. Catie Rhodes
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 16:37:52

    My husband gets a *lot* of paid vacation. We can’t afford to go out of town every time he is off work. So we see a lot of things near home.

    We have been out to Washington, Texas which is where the Texas Declaration of Independence (from Mexico) was signed. We have been to the Houston Museum of Natural Science several times. We’ve been out to the San Jacinto Monument, which was where the last battle of the Texas Revolution (for independence from Mexico) took place. We go see the Astros play baseball at Minute Maid stadium on occasion. Sometimes we go look at old cemeteries. Some of the ones in Houston date back to the 1850s.

    I’d still like to go watch the Houston Ballet and hear the Houston Symphony sometime.

    There’s a lot to do around here.

  5. Marcia
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 16:47:25

    I’ve had a lot of staycations, as a kid. My Dad hated to go away on vacation so he had an inground pool built for us. When my kids were young we found a lot to do withing a couple of hours of home, amusement parks, zoos, children’s museums, summer festivals, etc. Where I live now, we can travel an hour to Woodstock and the Woodstock Museum in Bethel. There are a lot quaint little towns and lots of rivers and lakes to visit, like the Fingerlakes, Watkins Glen, etc. I am looking forward to traveling farther though. Maybe next year.

  6. Rhonda Hopkins
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 17:47:32

    I enjoy both, but I really need to focus on some things in the DFW area that I’ve never done before. There are a lot of interesting places here and things to see. You’re right. I think we do take our own backyard for granted. Great post!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 11, 2012 @ 19:05:59

      Thanks for the compliment, Rhonda. I imagine the Dallas-Fort Worth area would have many interesting attractions to keep you entertained, although I understand people’s need to get away once in awhile. 🙂

  7. Jeannie Moon
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 13:24:17

    I’ve recommitted myself to enjoying the beautiful place that I live. I’m not more than ten minutes from a north shore (Long Island) beach, but I rarely go. This summer, I’m going. The sun, the salt water and the sand, the quiet, it’s a perfect way to recharge.

    My husband is self-employed and this year we can’t get away, so he’s taking a day off here and there so we can do fun things mid-week. Wineries, the ocean, museums in New York—there’s so much to do–and we’re going to have fun doing it.

    Great post, Jolyse. It’s good to be reminded what’s in your own backyard.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 07:53:58

      I love the idea of you two taking a mid-week jaunt to the wineries or a beach day. How fun. How romantic! Thanks for sharing, and I hope the summer recharges you both. 🙂

  8. Tuere Morton
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 07:23:42

    I seldom like to venture too far from the nest, so seeing the local sights has always been preferable to traveling out of state. In fact, there are so many places in NY I’ve yet to see. I was just talking to my girlfriend about this. One of the places I enjoy visiting is the Arboretum in Oakdale. I love the history behind and would spend a great many days there if I could get away with it 😉

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 07:56:52

      Hi Tuere. Great to see you here! I’ve never been to that arboretum but thanks for the reminder. Maybe I’ll convince my husband to go with me. Otherwise, it may be a nice day trip to take on my own. 🙂

  9. Gwen Hernandez
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 10:20:18

    We try to explore whatever area we live in as much as possible, but I also love to visit other places to learn more about the world. I’m always surprised how many people have never been to the sites in their own hometown/region. I’m sure it helps that we know we’ll never be in one place more than a few years so we have to take advantage of our time there. Have a great summer!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 13:59:04

      Yes, it’s almost as if you are a perpetual tourist in your hometown. Good for you, Gwen. Thanks for the summer wishes. It’s been productive yet relaxing so far. 🙂

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