I'm the biggest fan of traveling just outside of where you live to see something new. I don't always have a ton of time (or even a string of days off in a row) but I can always give adventure a few hours. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere — or feel like all there is surrounding your city is nowhere-ness — if you keep your mind open and your imagination at the ready, you can find fresh adventures to spark your creative spirit. It's always the right time for exploring!
I'm lucky to live in Austin — I'm surrounded by a seemingly endless stream of delightful small Texas towns just perfect for solo exploring and photographing. But no matter where you live, we bet if you hop in your car and drive even an hour or two, you'll see interesting sights, taste new foods and meet energizing characters. It's an easy getaway idea if you don't have a lot of money or a lot of time. Here are some tips I've gathered through the years.
Use Google maps to give you a sneak peek
It's true, not every small town in the world is exciting or fascinating to visit. But thanks to Google Street View, you can take a quick tour of a place before you commit to the miles. If anything catches your eye, consider exploring it in person.
Ask friends if they know of any weird/hidden places
Chances are you've got that one friend who's always got cool/weird photos of locations you'd like to visit on their Instagram. Ask them where to go! They might know of some secret spots.
Search or download an app for roadside attractions
I've found fun adventures chasing weird roadside attractions. The attraction itself is actually usually the least interesting part! But the journey getting to them is often filled with funny stories to tell later.
Go to a small town that has a funny/interesting name
I once found a town in Texas on the map called "Rosebud" and I drove to it just because the name sounded charming. Along the way I found this tiny town so small it only has one business in it (a killer smoked sausage joint).
Just drive and stop until you see something
Find a smaller highway or back road you've never taken. And just drive. If you see something interesting — a small antiques store, a fun diner, a particularly enticing patch of wildflowers begging to be photographed — stop! (Just don't violently pull off the road in front of cars and don't cross busy roads on foot to get to a landmark. Safety first, please).
Yelp for a particularly yummy out-of-the-way place
Two of the best meals I've had in my life (and this is coming from someone who grew up in South Louisiana) is at this restaurant
off the beaten path with off-the-charts Yelp reviews in a place I would have never thought to visit had I not found the restaurant on Yelp. So see if you can find a tasty hot spot somewhere and make that your destination, soaking up all the adventure you can on the journey there.
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(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux; Janel Laban)