While it’s no secret that we love packing our bags and heading out of town to explore – be it for one night or two weeks – we also make sure to explore our local area during the days we are at home. Part of the draw of the Pacific Northwest for us, outside of the obvious job opportunities and family connections, is that it is simply a great place to live with a lot of things to do and see without having to hop in the car or on a plane to go visit somewhere else.

This past Saturday, my husband’s godfather was in town again for the weekend, and the four of us, plus our roommate, made the three mile walk down the hill through some lovely back road neighborhood streets to one of our local breweries. It was a beautiful sunny day in the low seventies and we took our time on the walk, stopping at a park for our son to play a while on our way down.

By the time we reached the brewery, it was closing in on dinnertime, so we ordered tacos from the food truck and hung out at one of the tables outside the brewery for a couple of hours. We invited our neighbors down, and they stopped by for a bit before heading out for a date in the evening, and we all just had a lovely time, trying some awesome new beers, enjoying the sunshine, and generally having a relaxing afternoon.

Breweries tend to be great frugal hang out spots because they usually have reasonably priced beer, good places to hang out for a while (oftentimes toys for the kids), and more often than not, they don’t sell their own food so you can either bring your own with you or order from a food truck when available. This trip, we purposefully decided to go the food truck route, and the tacos were awesome.

Even better – 20% of profits went to reuniting families separated at the border

Since food trucks are considerably cheaper than a sit down restaurant, and the beer at a brewery is cheaper as well, so for almost four hours of entertainment, we spent just $40. Not free, but pretty dang frugal compared to how quickly you can spend $40 elsewhere.

We had originally planned on taking the bus back home since we live at the very stop of a long, steep hill, but the transit schedule was shortened recently and the buses stopped running at 7PM. We weren’t ready to head home that early, so we decided to walk back home when we were ready, which ended up being close to 9PM. The kiddo decided he wanted to run home, so we actually “jogged” the first three quarters of a mile home, past where we crossed the bridge over the slough right as the sun was setting.

From there, we continued up the road until we were able to access the trails that enter the state park near our house, and picked huckleberries to snack on while we made our way up the hill. We got home a little after 10PM, tired and happy from a long day (and somehow the little guy stayed up and happy for all of it).

Speed demon

Why Local Adventures Matter – And Why You Should Take Them Often

We may not have gone on a big weekend adventure this time around like we so often do, but we work on finding time in every week to go out and do something fun around town. A large positive of my reduced work schedule is that I am able to fit in our regular appointments and household chores into week days most of the time, which leaves our weekends to have little adventures instead of spending our time running around to the grocery store, the pet store, doing laundry, and all the normal things that usually get pushed to the weekend when both partners are at work during the week.

We are a good decade or more from being financially independent, and have no plans to ever fully retire, but that doesn’t mean we want to wait to enjoy our regular weeks while we’re in the stage of life of work and a young child. We are intentional about how we spend our days and our weekends, and they most often look like this past one, either at home or away. We may not have big chunks of time for vacation very often, but all we need is a few hours in the evening to have a great time.

Too many times I read about people putting off making their every day good while focusing on some day reaching FI, but I don’t want to put my life on hold in the meantime. We’ll spend a little more money, take a whole bunch more adventures, and reach financial independence a little bit later, but a week doesn’t go by without doing something a little special, and that’s worth a whole lot more to us than a magic number.

If you want to read more about a family that has really taken this idea to heart, head over to Adventure Rich, where Mrs. AR really goes into detail about how they’ve taken advantage of adjusting their life in the present without waiting for that elusive number that lets them know they are financially independent.

66 thoughts on “Why Local Adventures Matter – And Why You Should Take Them Often

  1. We love local adventures too. We just got back from Iceland and we had an incredible time. It’s really great to be home, though. The rest of the summer will be spent mostly nearby and enjoying the beautiful PNW. Summer is the best here.

    1. Summer is the absolute best here, which is what makes it hard to adventure further during this time of year. Totally living vicariously through your Iceland recap – fingers crossed we can make our way there next year.

  2. I love local adventures! I also struggle with the mindset that you can’t live your live until you’ve achieved x goal (savings, financial independence, early retirement, whatever). If you have to wait, what exactly are you doing with your life now? I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s rather have fun on the journey and not just wait for the destination!

    1. Exactly right – it’s so easy to focus on ticking off points along the way that you forget that some of your best years to be lived are right now.

  3. Local adventures are sometimes THE BEST adventures. I grew up in Lansing, Michigan where they have a fun annual program called “Be a Tourist in your Own Town” and I always thought that was such a great idea.

    1. It’s funny, we spend so much time reading and researching about the best things to do in the new towns we explore while traveling that sometimes we forget all the awesome things that we can do in our own backyard.

  4. my favorite is people coming to our house. we have a big front porch and seating in a back garden when the front is too hot. saturday night we were just having some wine and an art couple stopped by with another bottle on the front porch. mrs. me went to an art opening for a guy we know right down the street (i didn’t go) and there is always food available if they wanted it. i gotta start putting some dollars in my pocket for my dog walks. we supposedly have a great taco truck and i walk by it all the time but never have dollars with me.

    1. We are also big fans of house parties. They’re so relaxed but so much fun, and you actually get to enjoy your company entirely. This has been even more true now that we have a kid, because he can just run around and we don’t have to worry too much about him getting into things he shouldn’t. I would absolutely LOVE a front porch some day.

  5. I have to agree. While we have taken our trailer on long trips and across to different states, we keep finding ourselves closer and closer to home. One of our favorite RV parks is on the other side of town! We live in Stockton California and it’s on the big deep water channel where we can be right there on the waters edge, watching a big ship or barge go by while we drink our morning coffee. Why do we think we have to go far?!

    1. Why DO we think we have to go far is exactly right. It’s funny how many people have done a ton of exploring around the world and yet have so many places left unexplored within just a couple hours of home.

  6. I always want to go out and explore more, but I have this problem where I blow through too much money. 🙁 I def need to start looking for more frugal adventures in the city! It just always feels like such a treat going out, I go overboard.
    Loved your tips on food trucks! yum!

    1. We travel (either locally or further away) at least once or twice a month, so we have to keep things more frugal in order to keep doing it. If you only go on a trip once or twice a year, I can see splurging while you go, but we would rather go much more frequently but spend less money doing it 🙂

  7. Nice blog and approach to life. A frugal approach could mean you’re able to invest and generate some growth and passive income to fund more adventures. But as I think comes across – you don’t need a lot to enjoy yourself, because most of the best things are free.

  8. Oh, that sounds like such a perfect day!

    This is something I have been working on as well, although it can be really hard to pull myself out of the ‘save save save!’ mentality. Tokyo is definitely not very green, but fortunately there are plenty of spots within a $10 train ride that fit the bill.

    1. It can definitely be hard to adjust your thinking, but it is worth it to enjoy the now as well.

  9. Local adventures are the best. You are familiar with the area, have an idea of where to go all the time and plus you don’t have to worry about getting an airport or taking a long road trip that may be your whole day. Don’t get wrong, it’s great to travel outside the area you live at but having local adventures makes you feel proud that you live in an area that offers so much.
    Just this past weekend we went to a train ride for our son and hung out at the beach. It was only a thirty minute drive to get to the steam train and the beach is only a five minute drive from our place. We will go to places like Disneyland and Yosemite as our 2 year old gets older but we want him to enjoy the adventures we have in the SF Bay Area.

    1. I think this is ESPECIALLY true in HCOL areas – what’s the point in spending so much to live in the area in the first place if you don’t then enjoy everything the area has to offer??

  10. I have a similar mindset. I’m not going to wait for an imaginary number to enjoy life, I’m going to enjoy it right now. The future is so uncertain and the only guarantee is the life we are living in this moment now.

    My wife and I should really make a greater effort to enjoy our own city. Especially since there is so much to do in southern California. I guess we just kind of take it for granted. When we do in fact adventure and explore our city, it is often to show guests and visitors around. And each time we think “This is so cool! We should do this more often.” (But we never do.)

    Now that we have a baby… I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing more local adventures though! 🙂

    1. Exactly my thoughts. I want us to be set up financially down the line, but it makes no sense to me to completely give up now for the someday. And we actually travel MORE now that we have a kid. Ha

  11. If you haven’t read the book “Microadventures” from Alastair Humphreys definitely give it a read. It’s all about this concept. You can make an adventure out of anything!

    1. Not the first time I’ve heard of the book, but haven’t read it yet. Apparently I need to!

  12. I totally agree with this philosophy! Especially when the weather is nice I try to go do something outside every weekend I can.

    While I do enjoy the bigger trips where you travel somewhere else, I’ve found there are so many cool places I’ve yet to see that are in my own city or only a few hours away by car

    1. Balance between local and far away is key. That and we are just too impatient to sit and wait for the few big trips a year 😉

  13. I love local adventures! There are so many things under our noses and in our backyards that we all seem to overlook.

    We just found a wonderful camp ground and hiking trails about 25 minutes from the home we’ve lived in for 2.5 years. It has become our favorite activity when the weather is good, but I can’t believe we’ve missed out on this for more than 2 years!

    Thank you for the post!

    1. Sometimes it feels like you have to go farther in order to make it “worth the trip,” but that’s so ridiculous. If you have great stuff close by, take advantage of that situation!

  14. From spray parks, skate parks, to State Parks. There is soo much to do locally if you just look. My 9 year old son is currently into skate parks. He will search on google, find a local skate park and we will make a trip to the skate park. Usually these parks were built several years ago and sit empty. My son has the time of his life while burning off energy……6 miles of walking, it is no wonder how you get so many steps in a month. Nice work.

    1. Our son is obsessed with spray parks right now. And I may not have time for long runs in any frequency, but at least I get in some long walks and hikes!

  15. This was great! We’re still adjusting to me working full-time, trying to get into a good groove so we can take advantage of all the amazing recreation opportunities in Utah. Especially since so much of it is free!

    1. Two full time working parents is HARD. But even more reason to work in the small more manageable adventures!

  16. It’s so true that local adventures are sometimes the best! And I really need to be working on getting through more of my DC bucket list.

    I also love going to breweries because not only is it usually cheaper than a bar, but generally there are good options for tasting multiple beers! I usually get a flight instead of having to choose just one. And hahaha not taking the bus back from the brewery definitely explains some things. I was so sure my weekend in NYC was going to blow you out of the water (although we got a late start on Saturday and didn’t end up walking as far as I thought, oops) but I was so wrong hahahaha.

    1. I looooove being able to get flights or tastings, be it food or drink, because they I don’t have to pick just one option. And yeah the fact that the buses stopped running early definitely helped my step count quite a bit 😉

  17. I love a local adventure, and now I’ve got a bike, it’s a great excuse to explore untrodden paths and see what is out there. Very impressed with the little guy walking home happily at that hour! He’s a trooper.

    1. I keep debating about getting a bike again because I’ve been without one for like 4 years now, though with the bike share bikes around these days I may put it off for a bit yet. And I totally expected him to want to be carried and pass out on the way home, but he was just having too much fun.

  18. Couldn’t agree more. Last week, my brother-in-law was visiting from New York and we took him to a local greenway during the day and a microbrewery in the heart of historic Wake Forest at night. And for a little less than $50 we had a blast. Again, not an extreme example of frugality, but relatively cheap fun and entertainment for three adults. There’s beauty in simplicity–localness. Nice post, TLRE.

    1. I think it really helps when you’re showing your area to someone who hasn’t been before – it gives you new appreciation for all the awesome things you have locally.

  19. I couldn’t agree more! Due to our season of life (busy teenagers and jobs), we can’t always get away, but this summer we dedicated it to “Exploring our Backyard” and have had a great time doing so! Sounds like a great night in my book!

    1. That’s the thing about local adventures – they don’t take any planning in advance, and can happen in just an hour or two if that’s all the time you have 🙂

      1. It will certainly be interesting at the point our kiddo is old enough for “after school” type activities!

  20. I completely agree! There is so much to do, see, taste, learn, and experience about your own community. While it’s also great to travel outside one’s “bubble,” this is a smart reminder about the importance of also being intimately familiar with one’s own “back yard.”

    1. Yes!! We love our big trips but then have to remember that a lot of what we love doing while on vacation can also be done on nights we sleep at home 🙂

    1. It was a seriously awesome taco truck. There are three breweries right in a row in that area so they attract some awesome food trucks 🙂

  21. I could not agree more with you on this! We love taking local adventures in our area, especially in the summer when the roads are clear of snow. We’re lucky to have a few great provincial parks in the area and often day trip out to one with the dogs in tow for a hike. We’ve also been biking a lot more and exploring new parts of the city that way. You see things you miss in a car.

    1. That’s one of the biggest reasons I like leaving the car at home – you do see SO much more on foot.

  22. That is my goal this summer is to attend events in my neighborhood or nearby. Any place that doesn’t require a hotel room or long drive. I love food trucks and you can find them almost anywhere.

    1. We have SO many free community events in our area during the summer months. It’s awesome.

  23. Those tacos look amazing and I love that they also helped reunite families!

    And you already know I completely agree with the sentiment of not putting off loving life now to reach a FI number sometime in the future. We have so much to do within an hour drive of us, and I especially love taking advantage of all the great breweries and wineries close by. Even in my small town, there is plenty to explore with long walks, festivals and fairs, and parks.

    1. Ohio definitely has a lot more going on than people give it credit for 🙂 We’ve been to some awesome breweries and wineries out that way.

  24. Sounds like an absolutely lovely evening! Taking your journey to FI a little slower because of nights like this seems like a very smart trade-off!

    1. That’s the thing. What’s the whole point of FI if it excludes the wonderful evenings? I’m not talking super expensive ones, but some of the things we enjoy do cost a bit of money.

  25. It’s about enjoying the ride for sure. I love how your family is embracing that.

    Every time I read one of your posts, I cannot help thinking about you writing them on your phone! Haha, I coudn’t do ti!

    1. Haha, it’s funny how that’s such a big thing! With a small kid and a busy life, I’d be hard pressed to post regularly if I did it all from a computer. Not faster by phone, but then at least it happens 🙂

  26. We’re in the Mid-Atlantic, but do the same thing some weekends! We’re lucky to have 2 breweries within a mile of our house. Both are kid and dog-friendly and have plenty of fun games to keep kids entertained. Definitely a great way to get out with kids without forking over money for a babysitter! We’ve even packed our own food and snacks, which also saves a lot!

    1. It confuses me when breweries aren’t kid and dog friendly; they are usually the perfect spot for both!

  27. Key take away for me was to not put your life completely on hold for FI. We travel a lot and plan to continue that when FI. I love local adventures, we live in south Florida so it would be near criminal to not get out and have beach adventures.

    1. That’s how I feel living in the northwest. There is just SO much to see and do outside of our little yard.

  28. I love this post! We’re trying to make a point to have more local adventures. We live in a big tourist destination, but too often we get caught up in our daily lives and don’t enjoy it like we should. Our goal for the summer is more evenings at the beach – it’s a bit of work to get everyone and everything there but the whole family is happier when we do.

    1. It’s funny how much you’ll explore a town on vacation but then you’ll forget to do the same thing where you live even if others travel to your city TO vacation! Good luck getting out and exploring this summer 🙂

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