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Why go out of town this summer when you probably haven't taken advantage of everything your own hometown has to offer? Discovering the hidden gems in your city can be a fun adventure for you and your family.

You can start by searching the internet, visiting your city's webpage or contacting your local chamber of commerce. Here are some ideas of things to explore in your hometown.

Parks and Recreation. You probably know every swing, slide and jungle gym in your neighborhood park. However, have you been to all the parks in town? You may be surprised by what they offer. Some may have different playscapes. Others might have hiking and bike trails. Many provide facilities for sports like basketball, tennis, skateboarding or horseshoes.

Most cities' parks and recreation department offers classes to the public. You can find almost anything that fits your interests, from yoga to dance to cooking.

Arts. Discover the museums in your area. Most towns have a museum dedicated to local history. Some museums have hands-on activities for children. Look for unusual museums. For example, I discovered a Victorian Bridal Museum in our town.

Colleges and universities often have art exhibits, plays, and symphony performances available to the public. Look up your city's arts association for local exhibits or classes.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, I was still working on my degree. Since I was taking French classes, I had a student pass to the university's foreign film festival. Some of the movies were cheesy; some were hilarious; others were exceptional. It was a fun and unique date night for us at a time when finances were tight.

Library. If you have kids, then you probably already know about the programs your library offers over the summer. Our local library provides reading incentives, movie nights and crafts. It also invites entertaining guests such as a mime, a magician, and the snake lady.

Your local library may have adult programs, as well. It might sponsor a book club or host genealogy classes. Check with your librarian for the options available to you.

Farmer's market. A farmer's market can provide delicious local food. It will often have other vendors hosting booths for gift shopping. Sometimes, your town might combine a farmer's market with a street fair offering live music and entertainment.

Local businesses. It can be fun to go to a pet store to play with the puppies or visit your local ice creamery for a cooling treat. Some businesses offer classes that you can attend to learn a new skill or create something. Both Home Depot and Lowe's have DIY clinics for both children and adults. Michael's Arts and Crafts stores also has classes for various crafts.

Field trip. For fun and a little education, plan a field trip. Some local businesses will allow you to take a tour if you call in advance. Visit a zoo or botanical garden in your area. The police department and fire stations usually have a presentation available for field trips. To find suggestions in your hometown, try Field Trip Finder.

Several years ago, when I homeschooled my children we went on many fun field trips. We visited a farm where we picked our own strawberries. We toured Cold Stone Creamery, where we not only learned how ice cream is made, but also received free ice cream at the end. We explored the tide pools at a local beach. It was a fun way to enjoy hands-on learning experiences.

If you're looking for adventure, you don't have to go far. You can find exciting new activities right outside your front door.



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