We are going to show you ways to find cool travel ideas in your own state! There are so many great reasons to travel, even if you need to stay closer to home. And when was the last time you really tried to find fun new things to do or places to go near you?
You might be surprised by all of the interesting and unique places you can find to explore right there close to where you are.
We’ve got ideas for you whether you prefer to plan in advance or just get out the door and figure it out later… and whether you prefer the digital world or the analog one.
I’m sure there are a few ideas in here you haven’t thought of before. Here are some great resources for finding travel ideas in your own state! Enjoy!
Social Media is a gold mine!
Your social media platforms are a treasure trove of great ideas for staycations or discovering new places to travel abroad. Pinterest, Facebook, Youtube all have search functions and most have the ability to tag images and posts with locations so you can track down where the photo was taken as well.
I’ve done this before on a number of occasions.
Before taking the kids to Spain, and outside the United States, for the first time My wife and I searched for city and region names on YouTube and found great videos on culture and food and ideas for places to visit.
They loved learning a bit about the language by doing this as well and became more familiar with what to expect when we got there. It added to the excitement and anticipation for the trip.
I also used this technique on Pinterest to find new ideas and plan out the route of a multi country road trip. There were four friends going, and we all pinned places we thought looked cool to a group board and use that board to create a map right on Pinterest. That determined our route for the trip.
The best thing about using this technique is that the platform you are using will see what and where you are looking and try to be helpful by giving you more of those types of things in your search results and news feeds.
This can help you find things you weren’t even looking for. Then you can discover things that work well that you didn’t even think to search. This happened to me when I was looking for a place to take my wife for a birthday trip. I was looking at beautiful sand beaches in one location and then Instagram started bringing up other pictures that were sandy beaches for other parts of the world as well.
Try hopping on your social media site of choice and searching for a local mountain range or lake or city… or even just your state name and see what comes up.
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook accounts of local tourism boards, influencers and photographers
There are always Instagram accounts that just focus on your state or even a specific city or area that you want to find something to in. As you search for those locations pay attention to the names of the accounts and see if you can find accounts that focus there. They will have tips and ideas that go along with their posts at times that will lead you to fun things to do or new places to see.
Another great thing about finding these types of influencers is they will use smaller or specific hashtags that will be more helpful in our next suggestion as well.
Check out more specific/smaller hashtags
Similar to our last suggestion, but this time just looking at the hashtags. Try to stay away from large generic hashtags like #Utah or #texas. Look on the accounts of the influencers to just found. You might see some like #utahunique or #austintexasplaces
Searching through tags will usually bring up pictures and videos from people who have visited that place.
And to find these tags for places you aren’t as familiar with, Just look at those influencers you found earlier. Their posts will have them. Check em out!
Google will never fail!
Google has a lot of tricks up its sleeve when it comes to finding great things to see and experience in your state. You can use the traditional google search and google maps too.
Google maps the right way
Google Maps is super powerful! You can get ideas from it and see satellite pictures and photos others have taken and see reviews there too! All you have to do is search it in the right way. Check out our list of search ideas for Google Maps or Google’s search page below.
One of the things I like to do on Google Maps is to save or “star” a place that looks cool so I can find it again later when I am planning a trip or when I am actually in that area.
The best Google searches to find cool things to do in your state
Whether it is Google search or google maps, with the following searches you will have a big long list of places to see and things to do in no time!
Try the following, minus the quote marks:
“Things to do (state/city)” or “coolest things to do (state/city)”
“Best things to do (state/city)”
“Visitor Center (state/city)”
“good for kids (state/city)”
“Good for family (state/city)”
“Bed and Breakfast (state/city)”
“Hiking trail (state/city)”
“best spot to take pictures in (state/city)” – these are usually more popular places and pretty great ones. If you are looking for more hidden gems, try hopping over to Instagram and looking through the hashtags or locations to find some great spots for photo ops.
You get the idea by now, right? You can also try each of those searches and replace “(state/city)” with “near me” and get additional great results super close to you.
Get creative! Google has lots of different ideas for the area you are looking to travel to.
Go talk to the staff at visitor centers
Visitor centers are associated with national forests, cities, and national parks have them. Any of these are a great place to start looking for ideas. When was the last time you actually stopped in the ones you live close to?
Many of the folks that work at these visitor centers and are local and like to get out and play as well offer great advice on cool places and experiences that will meet your specific preferences.
That’s what I did… pretend you’re new in town and looking for things to do. I went into the visitor’s center and asked what are some of your best attractions in the area?
They gave me a map with all the cool places highlighted and told me about each one. This is especially helpful if you have limited time or want to find some new things to do.
It doesn’t matter where you live in the United States, there are lots of great travel destinations within driving distance of your home!
My wife and I live in northern Utah and had never really traveled to southern Utah as a destination. We took a week recently and drove down without a plan as to where we were going to go.
We found a visitor center when we arrived in Kanab Utah and they gave us ideas and routes and hikes. We started with those and hit another two or three visitor centers that week. It was amazing all the ideas we found and new places we discovered along our route.
My wife and I have a list of another dozen things we need to get back down there and check out on our next trip.
Visitor centers also have free wifi, which might be useful if you need to find a place to stay or just check emails or make a call and you don’t have cell signal.
Also generally speaking there’s someone working most days of the week. But they can still help out with local travel or excursion ideas!
Ask for personal recommendations from friends and family
Another place to find local or in-state travel ideas is from other people. You can ask for friends and neighbors in person or on Facebook or other social media for their own personal favorite spots or experiences.
This is an easy way to be able to ask a lot of questions from people you know and trust for details and suggestions of things to do.
Find and watch movies or tv shows filmed in your state
This is s fun way to get ideas for new spots and to learn more about your state.
As you watch them, make note of some of the locations in them, and you are set!
You get the idea, right? This can be a fun way to prep kids for bigger trips to foreign countries as well. But that is a topic for a different post.
Check official websites related to state and local tourism
Most states have a tourism office or department that offers travel information and ideas for the place you live in. The destination guide section is usually very helpful when it comes to finding new things to do close to home.
Here are the links to all 50 state tourism offices in the US: ((((link to list article)))
And these are great resources to start with, but you should also use the internet and other social media platforms to find travel ideas.
Get tips from likealocalguide.com
This is a cool site that offers some interesting city guides mostly in Europe and North America. One of my favorite parts about this blog is their use of actual locals to give interesting insights and tell about the area from their perspective so you can find cooler and less touristy things. So you, as a local will find new things to check out as well.
Find unique places to stay near you on Airbnb or vacation rentals
Airbnb is a great way to find unique places near you. You can look for houses, apartments or even experiences like tours! The best thing about Airbnb is that the site offers different pricing options so it could be right for whatever budget you have in mind.
On top of all this, they offer pictures of the properties and those experiences! And again the reviews help you know better what to expect. It’s nice to know they are from real people. It sure helps to have details from other people besides the host to explain parts of their experience that might resonate with you.
Get ideas from Atlas Obscura
Atlas Obscura is an all-in-one resource for places and topics that you never knew existed. It has articles about travel tips, articles about events, and some weird facts about all kinds of places.
Just drop in your state, country, province, or a city you are thinking of going to.
It can be a great resource for finding places you might not know about. You and use the Atlas Obscura website and explore what they have to offer. It’s a one stop shop for just about every place you never knew existed.
Check out their travel guides on Pinterest or follow them on Instagram where they give ideas of cool places in your area
Travel sites and blogs are great
These are great because you get more lengthy reviews and tips that you won’t likely from other sources. And there are loads of great travel sites and blogs out there! You will find a lot of them as you search through different things like “best things for families to do in (city name)”
There are plenty of websites with information on things to see and do, including forums and message boards all over the internet.
You might find a specific site that either you really like or that specializes in an activity you also like or an area you will be traveling to. Add them to your web browser’s bookmarks or save them in some other way.
Try Groupon to find great ideas!
Did you know you can hop on Groupon and find experiences in a specific city? There are some great prices and some really fun things to do there. Give it a try if you’re looking for some unique ideas!
The website makes it easy to find the best deals and offers of the day. You can even save your favorite searches, which is really handy to do when you are trying to plan trips in advance. Groupon also has some excellent social media channels where you can get updates on what’s trending and popular as well.
It can be a great way to explore new destinations or even find some activities close to home that you didn’t know existed.
One of my favorite Groupon deals was for a guided bike tour of Paris! It’s really amazing how much more enjoyable it can be when you have someone who knows their stuff guiding your group.
You can also try TripAdvisor or Expedia’s travel guides-both offer plenty of experiences tailored to your budget.
Get tips from likealocalguide.com
This is a cool site that offers some interesting city guides. One of my favorite parts about this site is their use of actual locals to give interesting insights and tell about the area from their perspective so you can find cooler and less touristy things.
The advantage to you as a local is you will likely find cool new things to do.
Use travel guidebooks and local magazines dedicated to your destination
Check out some of the local magazines that dedicate themselves to travel and see what they have to offer. There are also plenty of guidebooks for each state, but if you’re looking for a more in-depth read then check out books like National Geographic’s Great American Road Trip or The New York Times’ 36 Hours series.
I used to love going. into bookstores and picking up these guidebooks and leafing through them their pages dreaming of going to different places.
They also make a great resource to bring with you if you know you won’t have cell signal or want some good old fashion analog reading.
Additional Travel Tips
CAMPING & RV TRAVEL
Camping is a great way to keep travel costs low and immerse yourself in the outdoors. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out sites like Campendium or The Camper’s Catalog.
If you want something more high-tech there are also lots of options depending on your needs. For instance, if you don, t want to be bothered with cooking food and you don’t mind spending a little more, check out the Insta-Home Instant Portable Kitchen.
Just think about what your travel needs are before investing in something that may not work for you.
Camping is great way to keep travel costs low and immerse yourself in the outdoors.
some cool sites:
Freecampsites.net – This site is great for finding free places to camp. It’s a great tool whether you just need to know where to camp nearby or you want to plan a free camping road trip.
I have used it to find sites in the past. It was very helpful! You just simply use your smart phone’s location to find camping near you.
Campendium.com – Campendium covers all aspects of RV travel, including camping and cooking tips. IT is an app and a website. The Campendium app can help you find amazing places to camp, whether in your state or when you travel.
You can take a virtual visit of campgrounds as well. Their collection of over 21,000 different campgrounds are throughout the lower 48 U.S. states and Alaska.
Airbnb.com – You know what Airbnb is. Just filter down to campsites. Done.
Hipcamp.com – Think of it like an Airbnb for upscale and unique camping opportunities. Hipcamp has since grown into the most comprehensive resource for discovering and booking unique outdoor stays. They have a lot of glamping opportunities, including some really great treehouses!
VIRTUAL TRAVEL (VR)
Virtual Reality is a fun new way to travel without really having to do much of anything at all. With VR headsets and apps, you can have travel experiences without ever having to leave the house. They really do give you immersive interactive 360-degree experiences into different locations around the globe.
Some of these VR apps will even allow you to travel without a VR headset, which is great for people who don’t have one!
Just need your phone and a cheap VR viewer like this one. You can find great VR content in your phone’s app store or try YouTube. We can expound on this topic in future articles for sure!
Some other thoughts on VR and its uses for your travel bug.
– visit exotic locations from the comfort of your own home.
– explore museums in a new way, like an art class with a world famous artist.
– experience history and science through interactive exhibits (you could travel back to Ancient Rome or see what it’s actually like on Mars)
– go on safari without all the additional expense
– travel to see live music performances, sports events, comedy shows or movies not yet released in your area
Obviously, these travel trips aren’t the exact same as being there, but you will be surprised by how truly fun and entertaining or educational they can be.
Most likely your inner state trip will be taken by car. Road trips are a fantastic way to get to know your own state. They give you a chance to explore different landscapes and learn about the history of your destination. We will write more on this in the future too.
Here are a few tips to get your car ready for your next road trip.
-check your oil and other fluids
-make sure the air conditioning or heater is working before your next big drive. This will keep you and your passengers comfy on your journey.
-keep an emergency kit in your trunk: backup keys, jumper cables, flares for emergencies.
-keep an air pump for your tire and some other tools in the car.
-bring a map and guidebook with you too, just in case of emergencies like getting lost.
-check tires for damage and tire pressure
-bring a phone charger
-bring a travel-size cooler with some snacks
-fill up your gas tank before you hit the open road
There are a lot of other things we could talk about when it comes to going on road trips, but these are some basic reminders.
Those are some of our best ideas when it comes to finding ideas for travel in your own state. Hope you found it helpful.