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Just Around the Corner

After 12 years, I finally made it to Cave Run Lake.

I’ve lived my entire life in Lexington, Kentucky, a great city surrounded by horse farms and bourbon distilleries. Over the years, I’ve grown to know Lexington quite well. But there are other parts of my home state I have never really experienced.

One of those places was Cave Run Lake, an 8,270-acre reservoir in Morehead. (You can learn more about Morehead and the lake in our story “Kentucky Adventure Awaits”.) My wife grew up in Morehead, a town about an hour’s drive east of Lexington, and her parents still live there. We usually visit three or four times a year.

This summer, one of our Morehead visits took place over Labor Day weekend, which also happened to be our 12-year wedding anniversary. We celebrated by taking our kids kayaking on the lake.

Two things struck me on the water that day. The first was how incredibly gorgeous the lake and the surrounding Daniel Boone National Forest are — they deserve a mention alongside any of the famous scenic mountain lakes in the United States. But the second thing that struck me was the fact it took me 12 years to get there.

I’ve been aware of Cave Run Lake for a long time. My wife’s parents frequently talk about it, and we’ve casually discussed going there for years. But despite our best intentions, we had never made time to do it.

As a tourism professional and a lifelong Kentucky resident, I feel a certain amount of guilt about missing out on highlights around my home state for so long. There’s a part of me that thinks I should have gone everywhere and seen everything by now, especially places and things that are nearby.

But I take solace in knowing I’m not the only person with this challenge. In fact, it seems to be a universal problem — we all tend to take for granted the things in our own back yards. Some of the best-traveled people I know — the ones who have been to dozens of countries across every continent on earth — haven’t seen the highlights of the places where they grew up.

Fortunately, this problem is easily solved. Venturing to a foreign country takes months of planning and thousands of dollars. Seeing the sights around your hometown, on the other hand, takes virtually no time at all. You can decide to do it on the spur of the moment. And it will cost you less than a single tank of gas.

As the travel industry continues to grapple with challenging economic circumstances, an irregular labor market and other difficulties, this might also be a good time to focus your group travel efforts on sites closer to home. There’s a good chance your state, or perhaps a neighboring state, has fantastic attractions and sites your travelers haven’t seen before. Taking advantage of destinations close to home will allow you to keep your travel group active without too much cost or hassle.

Of course, there will always be a place for grand adventures that take you across the country or around the world. But your next adventure could be hiding in plain sight, and it may be closer than you think.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.