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1. Tap the natural resources
Is your region known for water sports, hiking, rock climbing, or fossil hunting? Check out your local tourism Web site and see your hometown in a new way. For a list of hiking trails near you, try trails.com.
2. Explore the art scene
Most towns host free summer festivals dedicated to arts and crafts, local produce, antiques, or flea markets. Find out about free outdoor concerts and theater performances from your local newspaper or chamber of commerce Web site. And when was the last time you visited your nearby art or natural history museum?
3. Camp out in your own backyard
Pop a tent, toast marshmallows (over the grill!), and tell ghost stories. The National Wildlife Federation has designated June 27 Great American Backyard Campout Day.
4. Swim with friends
Many American towns have at least one public outdoor pool and most offer free or reduced admission on certain days or times. Plus, they're big, so invite a group of your friends for sun, splashing and socializing. You'll feel as though you're at a resort.
5. Catch a cheap flick
Some cinema chains show free or $1 G- and PG-rated movies on certain weekday mornings, and some Regal Entertainment Group theaters host a free family film festival every summer. Regmovies.com has the theaters in your state that participate.
6. Raise a glass Most states have a wine-producing region -- and local bottlings can be surprisingly good. Designate a driver and check out allamericanwineries.com for tasting opportunities near you.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, June 2009.