A Take on Tourism ‘Staycation’: What’s old is what’s new again

Thursday, April 6, 2017 5:07 PM

“Staycationing” is choosing to vacation close to home to explore and enjoy the attractions and activities in your own area ... you know, all that stuff that you moved here to do but haven’t gotten around to.

Or, you did it years ago and haven’t done it since. Or, the stuff you’ll take time to do when relatives visit; stuff like riding the train, a day at Vallecito Lake or an evening with the Bar-D Wranglers.

The original staycation was the norm in America’s leaner times. A family outing meant heading out to the nearby lake to row a boat or bait a hook, a picnic at the park or on the beach, a camping trip with relatives, or a day at the old ballpark. It was simple, affordable and fun. It’s what we did back then.

As American affluence grew, family vacations grew into a two-week annual road trip ritual to some sunny shore destination, national park, Florida, or maybe Disneyland. We were captivated by our new coast-to-coast highway system lined with motels, diners and roadside attractions.

We took lots of pictures, developed them into slide shows, and showed them to friends and neighbors. “Vacation” became synonymous with time and distance traveled; the more of each, the merrier.

Today, the entire world is digitally or geographically at our beckoning call. We can go anywhere, anytime. After having been there, done that, there’s many good reasons to rediscover the treasures and pleasures right in our own backyard. Don’t forget, over a million people a year save their money just to come to the very place where we live. Why? Because there are a lot of great things to see and do around here.

There are many benefits in staycationing not included in a fly-away package. First off, it takes less time and expense to get where you’re going because you’re practically there now. Second, you’re on vacation and totally free to stop and check out everything you’ve being driving right past over the years. Third, you’ll expand your local knowledge about where you live, and your appreciation and pride of Southwest Colorado. Last, you’re keeping dollars close to home.

Here’s a tip: Get out and find the things you didn’t know were out there. They might be campgrounds, wineries, hiking and 4x4 trails, little shops, alpine lakes, coffeehouses, museums, breweries, art galleries, bed and breakfasts or thrift shops. Go places you think you know all about to see what’s new, like Mesa Verde or the Aztec Ruins, or discover all the summer activities going on up at Purgatory Resort.

How about driving the famous Million Dollar Highway? Stop and walk around Silverton, have some lunch and drop a few bucks. Spend the night in Ouray, soak in their newly renovated outdoor pool and do Box Canyon Falls. Pick up activity and attraction brochures along the way. If something catches your eye, just do it. Don’t overlook the many memory-making opportunities right here at home.

Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office. Email him at