Vacations await in your own backyard

Published 10:42 pm Saturday, March 7, 2009

Quite often we overlook the history, heritage, attractions, entertainment and cultural options that are available close to home.

One way to enjoy these is to plan a mini vacation in your backyard by planning on spending a day or two out on the town.

Here’s an assignment that I’ve asked my students to work on and I thought I pass it along.

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I would like you to plan a one-day trip as if you were designing an itinerary for an out-of-town visitor. Have some fun while being a tourist in your own town or a neighboring town. Be a tourist in the town in which you live and/or work.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3 … well actually seven steps.

Step 1: Select a destination and theme then get into a research mode. Locate the local visitors and convention bureau (CVB) then browse their Web site. Better yet call them and even better yet drop into their office.

Believe it not there’s one in downtown Ashland, Ky., Huntington, W.Va., Portsmouth, and even Lawrence County. As a tourist in your town, plan on obtaining information on attractions such as a zoo, a museum, or historical locations that you have never visited, then plan a day of sightseeing.

Ask the CVB personnel if they have some suggested itineraries. Then cut and tweak them, cutting and pasting to fit your needs. Lastly go exploring and enjoy your personally crafted trip.

Step 2: Plan an evening at a local theater, music event or sports attraction. Catch a Marshall baseball game or the football spring game.

Take in the new West Virginia Wild arena football, catch a performance at Ashland’s Paramount or Portsmouth’s Vern Riffe Center for the Performing Arts.

Step 3: Spend a day visiting local specialty shops or craft shops. A conversation with a craft person can be both interesting and educational. Check out Huntington’s Old Central or Ashland’s Pendleton Art Gallery.

Combine this with step 1 and make a weekend out of it. Check with the CVB about lodging options, packages and specials.

Step 4: Take a scenic, off-of-the-beaten-path drive. If possible, plan a few sightseeing stops along the way. There are plenty of city, state and national parks in our immediate area. Wait a couple of time for spring and participate in a spring flower stroll the countryside.

Wait for summer and enjoy the rose gardens at Huntington’s Ritter Park.

Step 5: Enjoy a picnic at a local park. If you enjoy walking, take a hike on a nature trail. The spring flowers will be out soon and this is a wonderful time to commune with nature.

Step 6: Enjoy breakfast at a coffee shop or lunch at a cafe you’ve never been to.

Choose something really nice from your wardrobe and make reservations for dinner at an elegant restaurant in your town. Enroll in a cooking class

Step 7: Think outside the box explore and have some fun discovering what is in your neighborhood, over the back fence or just down the road.

There is plenty to see and do you just have to do a little searching.

I believe once you give it some thought and use a little creativity you’ll discover that there are plenty of treasures over the back fence and either up or down river.

Steve Call is the Travel & Tourism program director at Ohio University Southern. Call can be reached at (740) 533-4559 or by e-mail at