travelcrush: close to home

2015-04-08_0002 I'm a traveler. It's just in my blood. I love to go, see, do, explore. Collect stamps in my passport and check in to new hostels in foreign countries. The idea that intercontinental travel might not be in our near future (hi, baby!) bummed me out for awhile, because it feels like all our fun adventures are over. And I know, I know, people travel internationally with babies and small children all the time. But for a lot of reasons, I don't think we will be in that category of people. So I've been doing a lot of googling to see what kinds of places are within 4-8 driving hours of Indianapolis, and lo and behold there are some AMAZING places all around us! Some of them I knew, of course (like Chicago-which I've actually never been to, despite living in Indiana my whole life) but some I'd never even heard of (Harper's Ferry?!)

Here's my short list of easily doable trips within driving distance of Indianapolis. I'm so excited that these seem doable even with a little one and on a small budget, and that maybe our traveling adventures don't have to take a hiatus after all., even though jetting to Europe or driving down the California coast is likely out of the picture for a couple years at least. This country of ours has some pretty neat places to explore, eh? So awesome. Can't wait to visit these gems!

1. Chicago, IL // Speaks for itself, right? I guess I technically lied--I was here once for a couple hours, just to tour Columbia College when I thought I was interested in art school. My friend and I bought matching Columbia sweatshirts, took a quick picture in front of the bean and that was that. I really want to go for a weekend to experience Giordano's, see Navy Pier and satisfy my childhood dream of visiting the American Girl store :)

2. St. Joe, MI // I went here a lot when I was little, but only vaguely remember it. It's a super cute little lake town on the shore of Lake Michigan, and I've always wanted to see a real lighthouse! It's also close to the dunes, which I've always wanted to visit. It's only a couple hours' drive, so it could easily be a day trip, too!

3. Pigeon Forge, TN // I just saw a commercial for Pigeon Forge and looked it up because I'd really never heard of it before. I mean I'd heard the name, of course, but didn't realize it was a tourist destination. Hello, Dollywood! Haha. It looks absolutely beautiful and there's tons to do. This is probably on our short list, especially once we have a little one who will want to be entertained! It looks super family-friendly.

4. Asheville, NC // I can't believe this is only an 8-hour drive from us! Asheville would be such a fun, quick trip. With it's antique shops, breweries and of course, the Biltmore Mansion, there's tons to do and it's absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I traveled to North Carolina last fall for a conference and quickly fell in love. It's in my top five favorite states!

5. Cincinnati, OH // Easily a day trip, Cincinnati boasts tons of activities for the whole fam. From catching a Reds game (Matt is a fan!), strolling along the river walk or visiting the zoo, it has lots to explore. And, hello, IKEA!

6. Harper's Ferry, WV // Who knew West Virginia had such cool places!? Sorry, any of you who are West Virginians. I drove through WV on my way to North Carolina last fall and again, fell in love! It was so beautiful. Harper's Ferry looks like a super cute little mountain town. I just picture staying in a bed and breakfast and hiking pretty trails, exploring cute shops and popping into a mom-and-pop cafe for lunch. So fun!

7. Holmes County, OH // Okay, so, I'm obsessed with Amish people. Haha! Seriously, as far back as I can remember I have loved the Amish. I mean, I don't think I'd ever want to be Amish, but I'd like to pretend for a day or two. I drove through Lancaster County, PA, once and was just giddy at all the little Amish children in their dresses and caps playing kick-the-can or whatever. Holmes County not only looks ridiculously picturesque and relaxing but you can take a real-life buggy ride! Um, count me in.

8. Red River Gorge, KY // I first heard of Red River Gorge when my younger brother took a trip there with the Boy Scouts. It's incredibly beautiful and looks like such a great spot for camping, hiking and rock climbing. Definitely a destination for the outdoorsy folks, but it would be an amazing weekend trip to get away and soak up nature! And it's just four hours from home!

9. Galena, IL // I randomly stumbled across this sweet little town on a TripAdvisor thread, and it looks like such a fun place to visit! I love these stuck-in-time little old towns (just look at that main street!) and the views of the river from the bluffs outside Galena are amazing! It's definitely not your thriving metropolis but would be a great weekend getaway, I think!

Indiana loves, any other favorite travel destinations close to home? Have you been to any of these? I'm excited to discover some of them for myself! XOXO!

photo credits: one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine