Posted by & filed under Travel Writing.

There’s been a theme in this week’s e-letters: travel writing is one of the most fun jobs in the world and it’s easiest to get started when you start locally.

Take some time this weekend to think about your hometown and articles you might write about sights and attractions near you.

Below are nine hometown ideas to get you started… 

By Jennifer Stevens in Colorado Springs, CO
(first published January 12, 2008)

When you’re trolling for story ideas near home, it pays to look past the obvious. Sure, you can sell articles about the best restaurants to eat in or the best hotels to stay in. But you’ll be going head-to-head with similar pieces submitted by other writers.

Editors are always in the market for articles that focus on subjects a little less-obvious. For instance, you could get paid to write about any of these more-unusual topics:

** 1. Cheesemakers. Now, it wouldn’t have to be cheese. Wander through the farmers markets near you and find out what sort of food production is underway in your area. The results might surprise you. In Colorado Springs, where I live, enterprising locals are making and selling delicious goat cheese and roasted peppers, for instance.

** 2. Coffee. Not just where to drink it, but what about who’s roasting it, too? Whether the “coffee culture” in your town is budding or well-established, it can provide great article fodder. What’s trendy? Do various roasters have a fierce following? What’s the best way to enjoy coffee where you live?

** 3. Vintage shops. Whether it’s well-faded second-hand jeans or barely-worn designer fashions, consider a round-up piece recommending the best shops in town for quirky and good-value finds.

** 4. Unusual museums or collections. Here in Colorado Springs we have, for instance, the American Numismatic Association’s Money Museum and the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. Both are quite small and a little quirky — but certainly worth a visit. Yet they’re rarely written up in magazines.

** 5. Trails to follow. In my neck of the woods, you can follow dinosaur trails, wine trails, hiking trails, and pioneer trails. What about near you?

** 6. Local artisans. Follow your interests and give them a local spin. What do people near you craft? Pottery. Christmas tree ornaments. Jewelry. Greeting cards. Stirrups. Visitors like to bring home “locally made” souvenirs. Direct them to places where they can find finely crafted items made by locals.

** 7. Gourmet goodies. Who doesn’t like to taste something a little special? Map out who’s making jams and jellies. Or chocolates. Or salsa. Or brownies. Or green-chili sauce.

** 8. Gardens. For a visitor with a green thumb and an interest in plants, where would you recommend she go? Near me, in the shadow of the Garden of the Gods, you can take a free walk through a Xeriscape Test Garden. In Baltimore in the spring, you shouldn’t miss the tumult of tulips in Sherwood Gardens, a pocket park near the Johns Hopkins’ campus. Do you know of anything similar near you? Or is there a neighborhood in your town where the yards are awash in color and you’d recommend a stroll?

** 9. Funny festivals or traditions. Close to where I live, in Manitou Springs, Halloween season brings with it annual coffin races. In Bridgeville, DE you can attend the Punkin Chunkin at the end of each October. And in Austin, TX they’ve been celebrating Eeyore’s Birthday the last Saturday in April since 1963. Anything quirky near you? A harvest festival, pagan ritual, literary occasion, musical celebration…?

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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