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Summer weekends: Local travel

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Having fun close to home

You may not have the budget to take a big summer vacay with your family this year, so why not become tourists in your own town and check out some local sites this weekend?

From how to find out what fun things are going on in your town to ways to experience your city in a new way, grab your camera and the kids and head out to explore your city like you've never been there before.

What's going on in your town?

Do you ever check out your city's website? Follow your city on Twitter? Like your city's Facebook page? You should. These are all great ways to find out what fun events are happening in your area this weekend. From concerts in the park to festivals and activities the kids will love, after sifting through all of the information, you and your family may find that you want to do much more than you have time for in just two days.

Grab a guide book

When you travel to a new city, the first thing you do is get a guide book, right? Then you look for restaurants and tourist attractions that you and the kids will enjoy. So why not get a guide book for your own city? You can also go online to sites like The Lonely Planet (which links to city guide books you can purchase), plug in the name of your city and see what comes up. You'll be surprised at the things you didn't know you could do.

Finding outdoor activities in the city >>

Take a tour

Put on your walking shoes and get prepared to see your city from a whole new perspective. You can opt for a guided tour (if you want a lot of information and like a more organized activity) or pick a walking tour from a guide book (if you want more control and the ability to choose your pace). Either way, trekking it by foot will be a unique way to be a tourist in your own town. You can also take a tour by boat or double decker bus (there are architectural tours, famous home tours, historical tours, the sky's the limit). The kids will love it (especially if you opt for the bus or boat). Plus, you'll even learn a thing or two (probably more) about your city's history in the process.

Grab Flat Stanley

Why not have a little fun and play up the whole tourist idea? Grab a Flat Stanley and your camera and take pictures with your cardboard cut-out from popular attractions in your city. The kids will get a kick out of it. Not to mention you'll have lots of options for this year's holiday card.

Scavenger hunt

Stir up a little healthy family competition and have a scavenger hunt. Divide into teams and come up with a list of things you have to get or do. You can take pictures at tourist attractions, grab something to eat from one of your city's most famous restaurants or even write your name in the sand at a popular beach.

Don't spend

Find out what free activities are going on in your city. That's right — activities that don't cost a red cent. Check your city's website to see what free activities are happening this weekend. From the city zoo to restaurants that don't charge for the kids to eat, you can experience your town and not have to spend a dime.

Free activities for kids >>

More local travel ideas for the family

How to plan a kid-friendly staycation
How to have a family staycation
Fun family weekend ideas

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