Travel Your Backyard: Find Sites off the Beaten Path

DeKorte Park – The New Jersey Meadowlands

If you can’t or don’t want to get on a flight or take an epic road trip, there may still be plenty of travel to do in your own backyard.  I believe that everyone should try at least some of the big tourist attractions that their city or region is known for.  However, if you like the weird or just unique, you probably have nearly unlimited options.  At least, if you live near any major city in the U.S.  Here are some sites to help you get started with a bucket list for your own area.

National & International

Atlas Obscura

From the International Cryptology Museum in Portland, Maine to Cat Island in Ishinomaki, Japan, Atlast Obscura catalogues thousand of weird, whimsical, fascinating and downright creepy sites from all over the world.  Readers can also submit their own local sites for consideration.

My local to-dos:

Roadtrippers

Roadtrippers is resource for road trips within the United States, as well as for exploring your own city or region.  Their site includes offbeat guides to over 20 U.S. cities as well as some guides to the truly obscure like a list of all the known Toynbee Tiles.  (Toynbee Tiles shouldn’t be scary, but they creep me out so much that my heart is beating faster as I type this).

My local to-dos:

Time Out

Time Out Magazine has plenty of information for tourists and locals alike in major cities from Sacramento to Seoul.  They are a great resource for events, whether you are looking for something to do tonight, this week, this month or this season.  If find the site especially useful for finding free festivals, plays, concerts and other events, as well as finding lesser known attractions.

My to-dos in NYC this summer (2017):

New Jersey Specific

Weird NJ

Weird NJ, which was started as newsletter in 1989, has expanded its brand to several other states, but New Jersey was the original.  Maybe New Jersey is truly weirder than other states?  Weird NJ isn’t quite like a traditional travel guide.  Along with stories of the Jersey devil and haunted roads, their articles describe real sites (often abandoned) and the history as well as local lore behind them.  Many of the places they describe now only exist in memory (or maybe never existed in the first place), but some, like these two attractions, are still accessible to the public:

New Jersey Isn’t Boring

Beaches, diners, breweries, festivals….New Jersey Isn’t Boring gives me the inspiration to travel my home state. There is a large focus on food and drink.  In addition, the site is a great resource for upcoming events and activities, as well as day trips within the state.  Their current list of events for Spring 2017 will help you plan your weekends through the end of June.  Here are two events that look interesting:

If you want some more ideas check out my summer bucket list for New Jersey and New York City.  Let me know how you find ways to travel locally.

4 thoughts

  1. I’d never heard of Toynbee Tiles before (or seen the ones in Cleveland when I lived there), but now I’m scared of them too! Thanks! Seriously though, the Pinball Museum sounds like a blast, and I’ve never used Roadtrippers before, so thanks for the tips!

    1. It’s weird the things that creep me out. I saw a documentary about them a few years ago and started noticing a few in NYC. Trying to visit all the known Toynbee Tiles would be an interesting bucket list goal.

  2. Nice article – I would add the Chihuly exhibit at the NY Botanical Gardens to your list for things to do in NYC this summer. It is spectacular!

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