To Grandma’s House We Go

Visiting family is a popular vacation destination, especially in a recession.  The lure of free housing, people who love you and home cooked meals is appealing, but often the destination can be dubbed “boring” – particularly by spouses and teen-aged children.

Try this:  treat this trip like a visit to any city you have not ever been to.   What does that mean?  Do your research!  Sure, you “know the place”, after all, you probably grew up there.  But really, do you know it?  When was the last time you lived there?  I left Kansas City some 30+ years ago and have only been back a couple times a year at most ever since.

In the meantime, they’ve built new buildings, opened a new soccer stadium, a auto race track, a water park and renovated Union Station to house restaurants, shops and traveling exhibits.   They are about to open a new, breath-taking arts center.  Oh, and they found a steamship – the Arabia – buried in a cornfield – it sank, the river changed course and the excavation has proven to be a time capsule into the old west!




Don’t presume the people you are visiting who live here have actually visited any of these attractions or even know about them.  There are probably things to see and do right in the city where you live now that you’ve never gotten around to doing as well.

Use the internet.  Type in “Things to do in XYZ city” into Google.  It will bring up a variety of options from TripAdvisor to the local Board of Tourism.  Browse the sites and then also check the local television and newspaper sites for an “events calendar”.  That’s where you will learn about festivals, plays, comedians, concerts and limited time exhibitions.


That’s how I found out about the Princess Diana exhibit in Kansas City’s Union Station (one of only 2 US cities it will be in this year).  The earrings that had been on display were flown back to London for Kate to wear in her recent wedding to the Prince.  There were lots of other sparkling jewels none-the-less plus her wedding gown with 25′ train and diamond tiara!

Once you are there, drive around.  Cruising around downtown I got a close-up look at the nearly completed performing arts center, stopped a worker who had just left the jobsite and got a lot of great information, saw a beautiful new Federal Courthouse, renovated buildings made into trendy lofts and revisited bits of my personal history still tucked in there.

Just because you were born and raised somewhere doesn’t mean you can’t be a tourist there!  Treat your home town like a place you’ve never been and you may discover a lot more than just old memories.


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