Guest Column: Take a vacation in your own backyard

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Let’s face it, leaving town is not always possible and time and money are cruel adversaries. However, who says you must leave town to vacation? Who made that rule?

It’s time to rebel. 

You can vacation right in your own backyard. Did you know most New Yorkers have never visited the Statue of Liberty? It is easy to take for granted the sites around you.

The first thing I do when going on vacation is to research my destination and look for historical homes and museums. It doesn’t need to be a grand house or a big museum. I find the smaller ones often have more of a local flavor, less of a business feeling. 

I am ashamed to say that, until a few years ago, I never explored my own community. Central Ohio has so much to discover. Make it a priority to plan a vacation in Central Ohio. You’ll find that your knowledge of the area is a bonus for you.  Pick a hotel in an area of town you like with good shopping and restaurants nearby.  Make sure there is a pool at the hotel, unless you want mutiny from the kids, unfortunately I say this from experience.  Then do some research and find some interesting places to visit. 

Here are some of my favorite finds here in Central Ohio:  

•Kelton House is by far my favorite destination in Columbus. It is a beautiful house on East Town Street built in 1852 by Fernando Cortez Kelton.

It is a beautiful, educational and entertaining place to spend an afternoon. Guides dressed in 19th century period costumes – who often stay in character which is great fun – help transport you through time.

The Kelton House is not only beautiful it is historically significant. The Kelton family were abolitionists and so their home became a stop on the Underground Railroad. Monthly programs educate both children and adults alike on its importance.  The guides are entertaining, while being educational. If you have an interest and your kids like that sort of thing, the guides will even tell them a ghost story or two.   

•Hanby House is a darling little house in Westerville where Benjamin Hanby, who wrote the timeless Christmas classic “Up on the Rooftop”, lived. Hanby House is small, but packed with antiques that interest children. The guides are costumed and informative. 

The kitchen is full of 19th century cooking gadgets; the purpose of many would amaze even the experienced cook. My daughter was fascinated by the kitchen, but then again she didn’t even know we had pots and pans in our house till she was 7-years-old. Hey, the kid has been to 20 states and four other countries; I can’t be expected to cook for her as well!

•Motts Military Museum in Groveport was a hit with my nephew. My daughter enjoyed it also, but not with the same gusto.  

The Motts family has collected a respectable amount of military memorabilia from the Revolutionary War through the present war in Iraq. The best part is that you can walk through the museum at your own pace. It is small but full! In warmer weather make sure you go out back to see the big machines – tanks, helicopters, planes and more – as well as a replica of famed World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker’s boyhood home.  There are also picnic tables out back so take a picnic and enjoy the history around you. 

Vacation is as much about relaxing outside of your normal environment as it is about exploring. Even if you can’t go far you’ll be surprised how relaxed you will be by simply not being at home. Take time to explore. Most importantly remember to pack light and have fun.

Kristi Farrow is a travel writer and works at the Southeast Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

 

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