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Only a drive away: local adventures abound close to home.

There's a folktale told of a man who leaves his home to search for treasure in places all around the world. After a lifetime of travel, he returns home empty-handed to discover his house is situated on a diamond mine. Tourism leaders in Utah are hoping residents will take this tale to heart and discover the treasures in their own backyard.

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As the price of air travel rises and wallets continue feeling the economic pinch, more people are choosing the traditional, all-American road trip for family vacations.

"I think everybody is recognizing the fact that for the past couple of years, people have been heading in the staycation direction," says Sara Toliver, president of the Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Utah is a virtual playground with dozens of state parks from Bear Lake to the Coral Sand Dunes. Within a few hours of driving, Utah residents can be riding a jet ski, hiking in a breathtaking canyon, or attending a music festival--the options seem limitless.

Exploring Northern Utah

In the spring of 2008, the Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitors Bureau introduced the Ogden Adventure Pass Staycation package that includes admission for a family of four to a dozen different attractions, including a night at a hotel.

"What we saw was a lot of our local residents really getting out and exploring," Toliver says. "We have some amazing family attractions and they all said they had really strong summers."

With UTA's FrontRunner train, residents living south of Ogden can jump on the train and spend the day at the George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park, the Hill Aerospace Museum, an Ogden Raptors' baseball game, iFLY or iROCK, and the Treehouse Children's Museum.

In Davis County, Antelope Island State Park, the largest island in the Great Salt Lake, makes for a perfect day trip. With a herd of more than 500 bison on the island, plus bighorn sheep, visitors can expect to see lots of wildlife. Trails on the island are open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

In Logan, summer adventures are endless. Visitors can boat, fish and camp at Hyrum State Park. Not to mention travelling to Bear Lake for the area's famous raspberry shakes and water fun.

Re-discovering Salt Lake

The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau (SLCVB) recently created the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass, which offers locals the opportunity to discover 14 of Salt Lake's top attractions.

Whether visitors are interested in an urban or mountain adventure, the VisitSalt Lake Connect Pass has it all. Participating attractions include the Discovery Gateway, Red Butte Garden, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort (scenic foot passenger tram ride only), Thanksgiving Point Gardens and the Museum of Ancient Life, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah Olympic Park, Utah's Hogle Zoo, Lion House Pantry Restaurant, Living Planet Aquarium, Clark Planetarium, Tracy Aviary and This is the Place Heritage Park.

The Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass is sold online at www.VisitSaltLake.com.

State and National Parks

Keith Griffall, president and CEO of Western Leisure, a company in Midvale specializing in customized travel tours, says Utah's state and national parks saw an increase in visitors last year. Griffall has also seen a tremendous amount of local residents taking advantage of customized packages. "They're looking for something a little more hands-on with activities for young people without a lot of stress for older people," Griffall says. "There are nine national parks within a day's drive. Much of what people come to see in Utah is out in rural areas."

For people who enjoy visiting state parks, the State of Utah offers a Utah State Parks annual pass for $75. It allows entrance to all Utah State Parks for up to eight visitors per vehicle. And for those looking to stick around and camp at a state park, the pass offers $2 off camping fees (except for holidays and holiday weekends).

Visit stateparks.utah.gov/parks for a listing of state parks.

You're Still on Vacation

When staying close to home, it's easy to forget the "vacation" part of the equation. Unless precautions are taken, the staycation can become an adventure in stress and frustration. Consider leaving work phones, computers, PDAs and other distractions at home. Splurge on a fun activity or souvenir. Although the time and money saved during a staycation can be significant, create memories and acquire tokens to help remember the experience.

By visiting these locations, residents contribute to the economic well-being of local businesses. Hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, souvenir shops and near-by attractions all reap profits from staycation travelers. If the experience is enjoyable, these travelers spread the news of newfound adventures in remote areas.

"For us, a lot of the attention is about exposure," Toliver says. "We've been pretty lucky that we've remained stable for the last few years. I'm still amazed when I hear about people in Salt Lake who haven't been to Ogden in 20 years."
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Title Annotation:Business Trends
Comment:Only a drive away: local adventures abound close to home.(Business Trends)
Author:Kinder, Peri
Publication:Utah Business
Date:May 1, 2010
Words:824
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