It’s the most hectic time of the year—and not just because you’re spending all of your hard-earned cash on presents. It’s that period when you have to use up what’s left of those vacation days you diligently stacked throughout the year (for those getaways that never happened). Before the “Grinch Who Stole Rollover Days” comes and takes what’s left of your precious PTO, why not use them to go on an adventure in your own city?
We’re pretty sure there’s a ton to do in your own backyard, and we’re here to give you a few tips on exactly where to start.
1 All of the Lights
One thing many of us rarely do is take in just how majestic our hometown cities get for the holiday season. Use a few of your remaining days to get in the festive spirit by going on a local Christmas lights tour. For example, in New York City, you can brave the madness of Rockefeller Center or take a tour of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood, famous for its holiday lights display. In Atlanta, check out “Fantasy in Lights” at Callaway Gardens or hit up “Holiday in the Park” at Six Flags Over Georgia.
2 Fill Your Belly
We’re always on the hunt for mouth-watering cooking classes and restaurant experiences for our travels, but what about the culinary delights waiting right down the street? Take a few days to create a food crawl in your very own city and try those yummy spots you haven’t been able to get to. Check out the “best” Thai restaurant in your area and see how it stacks up. Dying to get to Greece but can’t get there yet? Make reservations at a local Greek restaurant. Or get a head start on bribing Santa by taking a holiday baking class at a culinary school and delighting in the spoils. Make the day more fun by planning cool things to do between meals, like getting a cut or massage or picking up gifts… to ensure you work up a good appetite.
3 Matinee Madness
Sometimes trying to catch a popular play, show or movie can be hard to do after work, especially since that’s when pretty much everyone else is trying to go as well. With your extra days, skip the crowds and check out some of your favorite shows early in the day when the rest of those poor losers are stuck at work. Remember, matinee prices are much cheaper than peak time tickets so you get a day off, seats to the hottest flicks in town and you’ll keep a few extra coins in your pocket.
4 Take a City Tour—and Pics
That well-known statue in your town square. The famous graffiti. Your city’s welcoming sign. Even if you’ve already seen a lot of your city’s tourist spots, chances are you probably have never actually visited them. Play tourist for a day and embrace the cheesiness by taking photos of yourself in front of them. Make it super easy and drop a few coins on a city tour that hits all the prime spots so you can just chill out and go with the guide’s flow. I mean, we do it for the ‘gram in other countries, so it’s only right that we do it at home.
5 Hotel Love
Escape the four walls of your apartment (or maybe some annoying roommates) by checking into a hotel you’ve had your eye on in a different part of town. Put all your travel deal hunting skills to use in your own backyard using apps like Hotel Tonight to score a great deal—especially if you pick a day in the middle of the week. Be an overgrown kid in a candy store as you indulge in room service and other great hotel amenities until your heart’s content. Be sure to ask the hotel staff about extra perks.
6 Couple’s Time
Sometimes the rat race limits the quality time we create for that special someone in our lives. Use your extra days to play hooky with bae and get your bonding on. Start off with breakfast in bed (or at that cute spot you’ve been meaning to try) before heading out to take in a museum exhibit, relax with a couple’s massage, catch a movie, or whatever activity you know will score a W.
7 Bucket List Check
Is there something on your bucket list you’ve been dying to check off? Now is the time to see if you can have that epic adventure in your own backyard. You don’t always have to take a pricey flight overseas to skydive, take a hot air balloon ride, go camping (or glamping), feed exotic animals, enjoy a wine tasting, take a trapeze class, learn to swim or learn to be the DJ that rocks the party. Take a look around your city to see what dream activities you can check off before the year is gone forever.