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  • Writer's pictureBrooke Radi

friday eve: acing the des moines staycation

This Thursday at work, I heard one of my coworkers on the phone say, "Happy Friday Eve!" At first, everyone around chuckled a little and then, as the buzz died down, I thought about how so often we live weekend to weekend, vacation to vacation. I consider myself lucky because I have I job I love and don't need a vacation from the life I've built for myself, but rough weeks happen and we often look forward to the weekend as a time to reset and relax and really live the life we want when we're working.

But so often we fall into routines that are hard to bust out of. We clock in, clock out at work and then get excited for impending weekends, only to sit around on our phones or do the same things we do on the weekdays, but with more leisure time in between. We let vacation days go to waste because planning trips takes effort and time. I've had conversations with my friends about how we don't want to let our vacation days disappear on us, but none of us have the time or money to fly very far right now and, since Hostels aren't really a thing in America, we don't always get to do a lot of road trips either because hotels really start to drive up the cost of any girls' weekend we could have.

Thus the staycation was born. I'm pretty sure it was made for the broke college student. Fun fact: I can personally guarantee that there is probably something great to do in your town, or within an hour's drive. I've been living in Des Moines for almost four years and I'm still finding new stuff everywhere (Looking at you, Botanical Gardens). Anyone who's talked to me knows I'm a geek about wherever I'm living, so ask me for recommendations in the Des Moines metro and I'll hand you three pages worth of lists. The point being, if you try hard enough and treat your day off like a vacation, you can have just as much fun at home.

You really just need three things: a few hours off, a sense of adventure and a plan and you're on your way. If you have a friend to be your partner in crime, have a blast! After an overwhelming week of people, I opted to spend most of my staycation on my own, but it's completely up to you. You can be as alone or with someone as you want to be!

My sweet friend Lauren and I found ourselves downtown for some much needed brunch on Saturday morning. Friends, if you are ever in Des Moines, St. Kilda should be at the top of your list! The food is awesome, healthy and the atmosphere is that kitchy urban-chic that so many places try for. I swear I felt myself becoming exponentially cooler sitting at the table and the food gave us sustenance for our day. Pro tip when searching for a brunch spot: if you're planning on doing anything other than taking a post-brunch nap (also highly recommended), find a place that swings a little healthier than your typical waffle house. Your body will thank you! And avocado toast is always a good idea. Who cares what they say about us millennials? It was the bomb.

The Des Moines Art Center is one of my favorite places in town and is one of the first places I tell people to go if they're looking for something to do. It's bright, quiet and full of surprises. I always make a point to stop by my favorite paintings as well as keep up with all the new exhibits. But the best part is that you can be in and out in around two hours as a first-timer, having seen most of the art. And it's not weird to go alone. Or maybe I'm weird because I go by myself all the time. Bonus points because the Des Moines Art Center is completely FREE for everyone. Who said an awesome staycation has to cost a ton of money?

Thing that nobody tells you when you move to Iowa: winters are long. And they suck. I grew up in Minnesota, so I'm used to this, but I still hate it with every fiber of my being. The good thing that nobody tells you when you move to Iowa: when spring is here, it's HERE! Grays Lake is the perfect place to get a little fresh air, sunshine, and maybe even break a sweat! I popped over to the lake for a little run this weekend because it was just to gorgeous to pass up. I should also say that if you prefer to exercise alone, go for it. I do because I'm a sweaty, wheezy mess and nobody I know should see me like that.

Staycations aren't relaxing if you don't schedule time to relax! Who'd have thought?! Reading is my favorite thing that I don't get a chance to do much of during the week, so I got to spend much of my Sunday morning snuggled up in the living room with a new book. If you're not Maria Semple fans, get on that bandwagon. Her writing makes me laugh, cry and everything in between.

Next time you don't think that you can afford to do something with your vacation days, think again. A flipped perspective on your current city can be just enough to give you those vacation vibes without breaking the bank, and you might just find something new to do along the way. What are your favorite places to go on your staycations? I want to know!

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