DANVILLE — High gas prices and limited money after the bills are paid may mean vacations are out of the question this year. But families don’t have to travel great distances or spend a lot of money “to get away,” do something different and relax.
Most important, however, is making memories.
“Travel means experiences you give your children,” said Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
An adult may have a hard time remembering favorite toys he or she received at past birthdays or Christmases. But adults likely can easily remember specific vacation times participating in activities with family members.
“There really is no end to the things to do,” Cooke said.
There are several options locally for “staycations.”
Staying around home might not sound fun, but a long car or plane ride with a toddler may not be fun either.
The term staycation is a more recent word. People have taken vacations and stayed home for years. But with tougher financial times, the word staycation has been used more commonly.
“It is a trend we are seeing,” Cooke said.
“People still want free time and relaxation,” she said, despite the economic downturn.
Vermilion County residents are surrounded by beautiful parks, museums and there are events every weekend.
Cooke said it is a well-known pattern that local museum and park attendance normally increase with people visiting more local sites in tough economic times. Cities also benefit with local residents or others traveling within an hour or so from home.
For a visitor visiting Danville, it’s estimated that they can spend about $75 for a day’s visit. If someone spends the night, the local revenue increases to $125 per person spent on lodging, shopping, food, etc.
Cooke said Arts in the Park is a big local draw in the summer, in addition to Danville Dans baseball games. The Walldogs wall murals also have been bringing in groups and individuals.
Local residents can visit the Vermilion County Museum and the Vermilion County War Museum, the Alley Gallery downtown and numerous other historical sites and monuments.
There are local hotels with swimming pools, in addition to the city-run pool and Sprayground at Garfield Park and Turtle Run’s swimming pool.
P.B. Patel, general manager at the Holiday Inn Express on Lynch Road, said “maybe occasionally” they see local residents stay at the hotel. Patel said those with big families visiting and sometimes those with tax refunds in the spring or extra dollars check in for a night.
Cooke said camping definitely is a draw for people, including those who live locally.
At Kickapoo State Park, some locals come camping for a weekend or longer, said park ranger Bob Vandenberg.
During the recent school spring break, one family told him they normally go down south for vacation, but this year they decided to spend the week camping and enjoying other activities at Kickapoo.
Other park activities can include: fishing, rental of canoes and paddle boats, family reunions, the restaurant, horse back riding, hiking and running trails and mountain bike trails.
Most of the activities are free or there is a small fee.
Vandenberg said residents don’t have to pay to enter the park, such as with parks in neighboring Indiana.
He added that attendance at the park, especially with campers, started increasing a few years ago when gas prices started going up.
Other staycation sites could include Bunker Hill Historic Area at Kennekuk County Park, the Illiana Genealogical Society, National or Springhill cemeteries, local libraries and museums, Fetch Dog Park, and even group bus tours of local businesses.
Other ideas: roller skating and miniature golf, golf courses, shopping in downtown areas and visiting other unique shops throughout the county, the mall, Threads of Time for quilting retreats, ice skating and bumper cars, greenhouses, farmers markets, AMBUCS playgrounds in city parks and plays and music concerts. There are even auctions and garage sales.
There also is Strawberry Acres for strawberries or pumpkins, and Craneberry Farm in Hillsboro, Ind. for berries, pumpkins, etc.
Sleepy Creek Vineyards also has its Bed and Wine now open for a night’s getaway locally.
Vacation relaxation tips
Take Off Pounds Sensibly Club, Inc., a nonprofit weight-loss support and wellness education organization, suggests people make time to relax.
--Get enough sleep. It’s easy to stay up late during vacation, but try to get eight hours of sleep each night. Fit in afternoon naps during the week to regain energy for activities.
--Leave work at home. Delegate tasks to coworkers. If you need to check e-mail or voicemail, allot a specific amount of time each day so you aren’t too focused on the office.
--Take care of yourself. It can be difficult to relax in the “real world” because of all the responsibilities — work, children, activities, etc. Make room for some “you time” during the trip. Get a massage, play a few rounds of golf, or go shopping.
--Staycations are a great way to relax and save money while unwinding at home. Take Friday or Monday off work for a long weekend to relieve stress and spend time with family and friends. Staycation ideas: go on a bike ride; have a picnic at a park or in the backyard; turn the backyard into a cozy retreat using candles, a hammock or portable fire pit; create an in-home spa with candles, homemade facials, manicures and pedicures and relaxing music. Invite friends to join you.