Stay-cation: Have to getaway
This post is a follow-up to last week’s sources for local area stay-cation ideas. You can read that original post here.
Today, we are going to talk about a budget-friendly stay-cation solution that will help you out when you “have to getaway”. (Props again to Ms. Belinda Carlisle.) Ready for a little adventure?
There are these places near your home. They offer all of these amazing sights and outdoor activities. Sometimes, there is some history involved and sometimes even a great historic house tour.
The owners of these places spend millions of dollars every year to keep them looking great. However, you can spend a whole day there often for just the cost of the getting there. They let you bring your own food to save on costs, too. They encourage it, as long as you clean up after yourself.
The staff who work there are really helpful, too, making these places continuously welcoming. They are real experts on these places and you can always find them easily because they all wear patches that look like this:
Now, before you think, “Oh, I know all about this already”, let’s test that knowledge. We all have an image of famous historic monuments, but most people don’t realize how many park options there are out there to explore.
Since 1916, the National Park Service has been working hard to preserve our nation’s most beautiful and important places, 394 of them so far, for all of us. Have you really explored all of them? Why not give them a second look?
My top 10 reasons why you should include National Parks in your stay-cation:
1. It’s cheap. Most park sites have entrance fees that are less than $15 or FREE and you can stay all day, with full access to all of their grounds. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it outside. Unless you visiting a unique urban area, there is plenty of parking. Want to budget how much it will cost in gas to get to your park? Use this fantastic calculator, linked to AAA by the National Park Service.
2. You’re an owner. The National Parks has an annual operating budget of approximately $3.14 billion. A good chunk of that money comes from American taxpayers. Aren’t you interested to see how your contribution is being spent? You may discover one of the most rewarding investments that you have forgotten you ever made. Want more number details? You can find more interesting stats here.
3. It’s more local than you think. How many National parks are in your area? You may be surprised to find a lot of little places you’ve never been to before within an easy drive from your home. Day trips can be just what you need to feel like you’ve gotten away from it all, without squeezing your budget. Explore your state parks or the state next door using this link.
4. Get back to nature. You know what makes for a satisfying break? A real change of scenery. With over 84,000,000 acres of land, our National Parks offer plenty of room to stretch your legs, take some deep breaths of clean air and rediscover why nature conservation is so important. You can learn more about current Park Service ecology research here.
5. Brush up on your history. Learn about Native American culture, walk in the footsteps of American Revolution patriots, discover the danger of the Underground Railroad, visit the daily life of a Spanish mission…the options are endless. What history can you re-discover in your area? Browse some sample museum collections and great stories here.
6. Expert guides are available for all of your questions. The National Park Service employs over 28,000 people, including historians, park rangers, archeologists, botanists, biologists, forestry managers and museum professionals. If you have a question or you want to learn more on your park visit, these pros are there to help you. You can also explore other NPS employee projects here.
7. Families can find activities for all ages. Whether you prefer a nature hike or a new history lesson, the NPS has developed activities and in-park presentations to engage young minds. The online “Webrangers” program offers over 50 games to help learn about our nation’s history and wildlife. You can even earn patches as you play! Find out more details here.
8. Plan the ultimate sleepover. Many sites offer popular camping locations within the parks. You can find and reserve a campsite here. Tents not your thing? Consider one of the many budget-friendly lodge and cabin options available in some select parks. Find more details by state here.
9. Discover a new hobby. Did you know you can get trained to teach about locations on the National registry of Historic Places? Get free lesson plans here. Did you know the Park Service holds an annual national photography contest with winning photos being published in a calendar on the NPS website? Learn more details here. Did you know you can volunteer at your own favorite park? Find out more information here.
10. Help shape the future. The NPS works hard to share the beauty of the National Parks by supporting those who shape other communities. Teachers can find free curriculum ideas here. You can find interesting ways to get involved as an individual here.
All of the scenic pictures in today’s post are from individual park locations with the National Park Service. Like what you see? Check out the amazingly thorough National Park Service website to see what you can discover, then get out there!
How many National Parks have you visited? Have any great sites you can recommend in your own state? Leave a comment so we can plan fun trips!