As a college student, I find that I have the most freedom that I have ever had, yet also the least amount of money. While staying at home for college, I have decided to try every new thing I can find right in my home town. I thought this would be difficult because I have lived in the same town my entire life, and every teenager that lives around here, including myself, always says the famous phrase, “There’s never anything to do around here.”
Without much effort at all, and simply by web-browsing, I have realized that I, and all of the kids in Middle Georgia, have fooled themselves into living dull lives by closing their minds to anything new. An adventure does not have to be an adrenaline rush or a life-threatening endeavor, it can be a new experience. Here are eleven things that I have found to be quite fun, and are most likely available to you as well.
Festivals and Celebrations
No matter how big or small, a festival is something to do. I have found festivals for so many things right in my home town. From a local crafts festival to an Earth Day celebration, I had so many festivals to choose from that I had to take out my calendar and get to planning! Our most famous events are the week-long Cherry Blossom Festival and Georgia National Fair. I have lived here my entire life and just decided to go to the Cherry Blossom Festival this year. With a ticket cost of simply $5, it was definitely a wonderful event that I had been missing out on for so long. Another thing I found when searching for activities was a local film festival. I am pretty sure several cities in the U.S. have their own film festival. Ours is in October, but I am headed to Washington soon and will arrive in time for their film festival, which is in May. Attending this event is a great way to get to see how the talent lives in your own city.
This may not be for everyone, but a local farmers’ market is also an interesting place to visit close to home. My farmer’s market comes every Thursday literally right in front of my college and yet I never stopped by until a few weeks ago. It was really neat to see all that was grown locally. There was local honey, organic meat and poultry, organic produce, and several baked good tents. My favorite tent had a man whom we approached who sold his wife’s baked goods. He had all types of banana bread, zucchini bread, and blueberry bread, and then had them all in gluten free as well!
I eat gluten free and was delighted about this rare find in the South. We bought one of everything and they were all delicious. Farmers’ markets are a great way to support people of the community for a change instead of paying Kroger. If nothing looks appealing, it is also a great way to meet new people that live close by.
I live near Macon, Georgia; a city with old colonial houses, and a still nice-looking downtown. It also has a beautiful cathedral with a large park behind it. The cathedral used to be well-known, but has become less popular over the years. I love spending the day in Macon. It’s approximate seven museums are cheaper to see than the ones in the exciting city of Atlanta. With a student ID, admission is around $8 to all the museums so a person can learn about local history. The museums you can see are: Hay House, Arts and Science Museum, Cannonball House, as well as our Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins.
I have yet to visit our Allman Brothers Museum, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and Sydney Lanier Cottage. Also, my grandmother has always wanted to go to the Gone with the Wind Museum a few towns over so I think I will take her to that one with me. Small museums are just as cool as large ones. Going to a city’s small museum is the best way to get to know what the city is all about: it’s culture, it’s people, it’s good and bad times. If you have never been to your local museums, go check them out and you might learn something that you never knew about your city.
Trails and Parks
I workout in an air-conditioned gym and the only “roughing it” that I can tolerate is getting sand in my bathing suit from laying out on a beach. I have made myself experience outdoor activities because that is much of what Georgia has to offer. Hiking trails, huge Indian mounds, water falls, swamps, and rivers are a large part of Georgia and are also what makes it so beautiful. One way to get some exercise and see new terrain is to put on some old tennis shoes with a friend or loved one and hit the trails. We do not have trails in my home town, but we have Indian Mound Monument Park that is pretty neat, and also has a festival. Drive 90 minutes on I-75 North, and there are several opportunities to hike mountains, and discover beautiful waterfalls. There is no doubt that experiencing the beauty of God’s creation first-hand creates a prime opportunity for some divine moments with our heavenly Father!
Local Store Openings
It may take a little more research to find store openings simply because there probably isn’t one website that lists them all. Facebook and word of mouth really come in handy for small store openings, but if a local store does have a grand opening, not only do you get to see what they will be selling, but you will probably get a few freebies and discounts just for being there!
My sister and brother-in-law used to scope out Chickfila grand openings because they truly are grand! It is an all night event, playing games, and camping out. The best part is, the first 100 guests win free Chickfila for a year or fifty two number one combo meals. Now, Chickfila requires everyone to have a zip code near the store so that the locals will be able to participate. People really made a sport out of going to Chickfila grand openings all over the U.S., and were taking up the space that was really only meant for locals. If a Chickfila is opening near you, DO NOT MISS OUT! It is probably one of the best store openings there is and ever will be! Other store openings that would probably be really fun are cute boutiques, local coffee shops, and bakeries and restaurants.
I use Groupon religiously on vacations and in my home town. Not only does it show me activities that I never would have known about, but it also provides a discounted price to participate! Some local activities I have pulled up on my Groupon App right now are knitting classes, boot-camp classes, Martial-Arts lessons, paintball, dance classes, Pilates, guitar, bass, or drum lessons, a discount to local museums, a local garden, a firearms training course, four major concerts including Gwen Stefani, Kenny Rogers, and some other people I’ve never heard of, a Georgia Swarm Lacrosse game, and painting events. Groupon lets you see some activities that don’t get advertised as much. For example, I had no idea that we had a Lacrosse team until just now. So type in your city in the location search bar and see what new activities you can find at a discounted price!
City Recreation Department
In the 6th grade, I played on one of their softball teams for one year, and two years ago, I began lifeguarding at the city pool. I ended up teaching swim lessons to people of all ages and water aerobics to senior citizens. I had no idea these activities were offered in my city and was amazed to hear that the entire course was about $35 to city residents. They also offer out-of-water aerobics, adult sports leagues, and crafts. Who knows? Maybe your city offers some activities that you would really enjoy for a really good price!
Music Festivals and Local Performances
I love the idea of hearing local artists perform original songs and experiencing their humble beginnings; bands that may take off and become super famous. Local concerts are college-kid friendly (also known as cheap). In Georgia, a fair price for the most up and coming band concerts might be about $25. Our most popular music events are Bearstock and the Brag Jam concert crawl. Bearstock is in April and is put on by Mercer University. It is a completely free event of all day music at a nearby park. Teens and college kids come and hang out together all day, listening to good music. The Brag Jam is in July and is an all-day concert event with 80 bands performing throughout 20 different venues in downtown Macon. I have never been to Brag Jam because I just found out about it in my quest for local activities, but I will certainly attend this summer! See what musical events your town has to offer. Whether it be a local band, a symphony, or maybe a performer at a local restaurant, hearing new types music is always interesting and exciting.
High School and Local Plays
Every city is not as fortunate as mine to have wonderful drama departments due to lack of funding or to students lack of interest in the arts. If you are fortunate, perhaps your local high schools are like mine, practicing all year to perform a big play in the spring. Our high schools all perform their plays around April. This year, the plays were Grease, High School Musical, and Shrek. Local high schools are an awesome way to find entertainment, whether it be a play, a band concert, or an exciting sporting event. Another option to embrace the arts is to attend your city’s local theater. People work hard, learning lines and practicing after a long day of work. My uncle runs the theater in Macon so I may be a little biased, but I have never been disappointed. Seeing so much talent under one roof is always exciting and a great way to spend a night out or a Sunday afternoon.
Goodwill, Coffee, and Books
Coffee and books go together often, but probably not along with Goodwill. For a reader, Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million is an awesome place to get coffee, sit down, and enjoy a new novel or magazine. I love doing this because my boyfriend and I enjoy reading and I am a coffee addict, so these are perfect date locations for us. One thing we have discovered is that Goodwill is our favorite place to find books. There is a Goodwill in Macon that has coffee!
We can sit and enjoy reading a book and sipping coffee, forking out only about $3 if we want to buy the book and finish it later. I like going to Goodwill because I know both the book and coffee proceeds go to a good cause. We also love the local coffee shops, and read books that we already own or have purchased from Goodwill; or, believe it or not, our local Dollar Tree. I just bought a novel based in a telegraph office in Paris called The Paris Correspondence and a Duck Dynasty book for $1 apiece! Make a bucket list of all the local restaurants and quirky coffee shops you want to visit close to your home and get to work! I still have a long way to go on mine.
Volunteering is a great way to find an activity close to home. Hand out water to exhausted 5k runners, teach children the love of God at Vacation Bible School, or dish out food to recovering addicts at a recovery ministry. Free lunch or dinner might be offered to volunteers, but the real payment comes from the blessing you will receive through service to others. Volunteering really does give an adrenaline rush, although this could also be the joy of Jesus that is able to flow out of us when we follow his example of serving others.
Adventure is anything new. A new activity can turn out to be something fun and repeated, or something never to be done again. It is better to try something new and hate it than to always wonder if you’re missing out. Force yourself to branch out by talking to artsy people when you can’t even draw a stick figure, or by listening to new music when you aren’t able to name even one musician. No matter your age and no matter your location, there is always something new to be discovered!