6. Discover the secret history of your hometown.

Start by looking up your state on, maintained by the American Association for State and Local History. You can search through over 4,000 historical sites for locations by themes like "American Revolution" or "Women's History." The next time you're visiting relatives near De Smet, South Dakota, for instance, you may want to check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society, which contains many original artifacts of the family and the first school in town. If you grew up near Charles City, Virginia, you weren't far from the Berkeley Plantation, the site of the first official Thanksgiving in 1916 and the birthplace of the ninth U.S. president, William Henry Harrison. Not all sites are listed on, so also search online for the historical society in your town, county or nearby city. Someone there will most likely be thrilled to share the most interesting events in your town's past.

7. See the place where you grew up through someone else's eyes.

Check out TripAdvisor, Chowhound or Yelp to find out what others have said about local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. lists thousands of the more offbeat sites that don't usually make it to the field-trip itinerary, like the Puppet Opera in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, the RV Museum and Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana, and the castle built out of beer cans by a recluse in Antonito, Colorado. The site launched an iPhone app last year that uses GPS to help you find weird but intriguing attractions nearby.

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