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Don’t take my word for it, but I’m pretty darn good at finding fun and unique things to do no matter where I am.  One of the first rule of thumbs is knowing who you’re catering to — is it just yourself, your family, a persnickety friend — and their interests.  From there, planning a 1/2 day, day or even week-long adventure becomes a relatively easy task.

Flight 93 MemorialI did this on a recent trip to Pennsylvania. We took an extended weekend — we usually do a get-away for our anniversary — to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, PA.  My interests were fulfilled; but what about my husband?  What would I do for him?  For him, with a bit of legwork, I found the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, our ‘hub’ for the weekend, and a fantastic hat shop, Killer Hats, in Lancaster County where he bought his first Stetson (yes, Tony is a hat guy).

Last night, as we were figuring out what to do today (he typically works on Sundays, so spending the day together is an oddity); I mentioned a craft fair from my Christmas ‘Things to Do’ list.  He didn’t completely puke all over the idea and begrudgingly committed to going.  That’s when the conversation got interesting.

“I usually find really good things for us to do,” I exclaimed at his lame-ass “OK.” He conceded, “Yes, actually you do; you do find great things to do.”  How do I do this?  How do I know that a Shakespeare in the Park performance at some random park in some small town in the middle of Maine is taking place?   Well, I’ll tell you:

  1.  I dissect where I’m going, who I’m going with, why I’m going and how long I will be somewhere.
  2. I head to the state, county/region, and city tourism sites — some little towns don’t have a proper tourism bureau and that’s OK.
  3. I check out the local chamber of commerce, specifically their events page .
  4. I peruse the Arts and Entertainment calendars of the local papers.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of what I do, this is the foundation and it’s a solid foundation.  I actually did this for our Thanksgiving trip to Warren, MA.  Last year, we kind of just went there — my thought being ‘cabin in the woods, fire place, goats…this is going to be great.’  We had nothing to do anyway and I was recovering from an operation so sitting by a fire was just fine.  This year, however, is a different story and I’m anticipating at least one afternoon of antiquing, a meal or two at the Salem Cross Inn, and perhaps checking out Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield — all things I found using the simple steps noted above.

Tomorrow, I’ll be checking out the holiday boutique at Lambert Castle (Patterson, NJ), shopping and making my desserts — I must bake tomorrow; I must bake tomorrow; I must bake tomorrow…Oy.