From the Mods: What To See and Do In My Town (U.S. Edition, Part 2)

We’re back with another installment of ModSquad’s guide to our individual home towns! You’ve already heard from Mods in the United States and around the world. We’re back in the USA, asking Mods across the country to weigh in on what visitors typically do when they come to our home towns — and what they really should be doing. Here’s the scoop from those in the know.

Green Cove Springs, FL

What people typically do: It’s a very small town, so people are typically visiting friends and family, attending one of the nearby football games (Jacksonville Jaguars or University of Florida Gators), or going to the Players Championship golf tournament. People come to fish, golf, and visit nearby towns with much more to see or do. Being a military town, we have Camp Blanding, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and Naval Station Mayport within an hour’s drive.
What they should do: Take some time to get to know the history of Northeast Florida, visit any of the parks located on the St. Johns River, and go to St. Augustine and Amelia Island. There’s a lot of history in Northeast Florida, both American Indian and Spanish. The St. Johns River is an American Heritage river. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S., with many unique, eclectic cultural attractions. Be sure to sample or buy the local produce and seafood. There are still quite a few small, family-owned produce and livestock farms and local fishers. Depending on the season, you’ll have access to a great selection of fresh foods.

—Deborah McGrath

Ravenswood, WV

What people typically do: Ravenswood is a fairly small town of under 4,000 people; there are no big shopping centers or movie theaters and we have no sports teams here to cheer on apart from our local school teams. Ravenswood at one time had more churches per square mile than any town in the country, so I’m guessing a lot of people just venture out to go to church! One fun fact: The land our city is on was once owned by George Washington!
What they should do: I think people who visit Ravenswood should spend more time at our park and museum. Riverfront Park is an excellent way to get away from technology and enjoy the river and nature. It’s nice to sit at the park and watch boats, waterskiers, and even barges cross by on the river, with trains running down the tracks behind us, both usually carrying coal. Our big Octoberfest celebrations are held at Riverfront Park. More locals should take advantage of it. The Washington Western Lands Museum holds a lot of river travel artifacts and old business displays. A nearby tourable 19th-century house gives visitors a great look at how our ancestors lived, reminding us that they’re not just names and dates on a family tree but real people who lived, loved, and struggled to survive the problems of their day.

—Rebekah Good

Chicago, IL

What people typically do: They go to the Taste of Chicago (or just “The Taste”) or any other event happening at Millennium Park, Navy Pier, or the Magnificent Mile.
What they should do: Ask a local for great places to eat and things to do. My recommendation: Hit up Half Acre Beer Company for some beer and eats, or stop into Bad Apple across the street for a huge list of beers, ciders, mead, and great poutine. A short cab ride away is Lincoln Square, where there’s great shopping and restaurants, including my personal favorites, Gene’s Sausage Shop and their rooftop BBQ in the summer, or Hopleaf’s delicious food and brews. Want things for kids to do? All of the Chicago Park District parks have an online listing of events that include things like craft fair make-and-takes, games, carnivals, or free outdoor movies! You don’t have to shuffle through an overcrowded event to pay for expensive tastings to get a great Chicago experience. Look up what’s going on all over the city. Chances are, a really cool festival is happening in a neighborhood that has tons of things to do and won’t cost you a fortune. The real Chicago experience involves seeing the diverse cultures and interests celebrated all throughout the city and hanging out with the great people who live here.

—Katie Carson

Atlanta, GA

What people typically do: Go to concerts, sporting events, and see the standard tourist attractions.
What they should do: Visit Buford Highway, one of the most culturally diverse areas of the country. You can find more than 1,000 shops and restaurants owned and operated by people from all over the world. We definitely feel privileged to be surrounded by such diversity and great food! Great dining is definitely something people don’t think of when visiting Atlanta, but the unique combination of cultures and the creative drive of those in the entertainment industry has allowed for the one of the most unique dining experiences around.

—Melissa Kamphuis

Eugene, OR

What people typically do: Attend sporting events. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon, and traffic comes to a standstill when the Ducks are playing. People also tend to visit the area wineries and craft breweries and enjoy biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and other outdoor sports.
What they should do: I’m all for them doing all of the activities listed above, especially visiting the wineries and breweries. But I’d also urge people to check out our lively foodie/restaurant scene, local music venues, and our numerous outdoor cultural festivals, especially the legendary Oregon Country Fair []. Eugene has a storied history as a hippie Mecca, primarily because it was the hometown of author Ken Kesey, who invited all his hippie friends to come hang out. That spirit is still very much alive and well to this day, and you can get the best exposure to that culture by hitting the outdoor festivals, especially the OCF [].

—Ellen Brenner

North Babylon, NY

What people typically do: Summer fishing trips are always enjoyable. Visit the Fire Island Lighthouse, which is known to be haunted. Many just take the ferry over to Fire Island and relax on the beach.
What they should do: All of the above! Just have fun and enjoy the scenery! I’d also recommend visiting the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, approximately one hour away from the Bablyon area. They’re known for their rehabilitation of injured sea life. It’s always touching to hear about a sea animal being released back into its environment, which is the goal of the Aquarium. There’s a lot do do there; you won’t be bored!

—Pat Campo

Marathon, FL (in the Florida Keys)

What people typically do: Most people tend to drive through to Key West or visit Sombrero Beach and the Seven Mile Bridge, which are all worth doing. They also tend to visit the commercial aquariums within the Keys, not knowing that there are actual rescue/rehab/release programs in the area.
What they should do: Visit The Turtle Hospital and the Dolphin Research Center. Both are rehab facilities and not commercial. The Turtle Hospital rescues injured sea turtles and rehabilitates them until they can be released. If they’re in good health but cannot be released safely, they are kept or transferred to other facilities, in order to spread awareness about the various endangered sea turtle species. I used to work for them! The Dolphin Research Center does similar, witht their focus being on dolphin research. I live right next door to them, and their dolphins are kept in the ocean with pens that allow the dolphins to have wonderful enclosures that aren’t tanks. They have also helped The Turtle Hospital when their own tanks weren’t big enough for a leatherback.

—Sierra Rush

Locust Grove, VA

What people typically do: Tour the battlefields and wineries.
What they should do: Spend some time exploring all there is here. We have the Germanna Visitor Center, with its amazing history about a family settling from Germany. We have the Wilderness Battlefield, which is the site of the most deadliest battle in the Civil War. Stonewall Jackson was wounded here, and Grant and Lee walked through here. There are numerous haunted spots. George Washington first lived here before Ferry Farm. It’s amazing. History needs to be embraced and respected. People died for our freedom, and we should never take that for granted.

—Sharon Corner

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