I hate it when I find out about something really great after it's over - especially if it's only the day after. That moment when I'm talking to someone and they are like: "Yes, we took the whole family out for THIS BIG HUGE EVENT just YESTERDAY and it was THE BEST FUN EVER and DIDN'T COST A THING and was only A SHORT DISTANCE FROM HERE...Why didn't you go?" Sometimes I didn't go because we had something else going on. But more often it's because I didn't know it was happening and that can cause me to feel quite irked at myself. In order to let this scenerio happen as little as possible, I have begun to really pay more attention and stay alert to discovering these events before they take place.
The first and most obviously place to get information these days is the internet. But where on the internet does one go? Google can only help so much when it comes to local places and events unless you know what you are looking for more specifically. While you can look at the local news sites, my recommendation is to embrace social media for your event news. Your local area most likely has a "Patch" Facebook or Twitter page (try searching for "name of town or township patch"). These pages mainly give you regular news, but they also tend to share any local event that they come across. The places that you love to visit (parks, zoos, aquariums, museums, restaurants, shopping districts, sports arenas) all tend to have their own social media pages these days as well. Check out their specific websites for some events but make sure you tune into their Facebook or Twitter as well for a lot more information. It takes more time to update a whole webpage than it does to quickly share a picture or announcement on social media, so you will find more up to date information on those sites. If you have your own Facebook or Twitter page, pay attention to what your friends are sharing. You can discover a lot from all the links being passed around. Most areas also have websites, blogs, and social media being written and run by someone who lives locally and gathers information to share with their readers. For the Greater Philadelphia area, we highly recommend Daily Vacation's Upcoming Events Page ;) Be sure and follow on Facebook and Twitter for even more event info.
For those of us who are not as into searching and finding things on the internet, there are still a lot of ways out in the physical world to discover what is going on around you. First, read your "junk mail". Not all those credit card and insurance mailings, but a lot of the other things that come through the mail and hit our recycling or shredder without a glance. Scan the take out menus for coupons or "kids eat free days" or discounted times to eat. Search the clipper magazines that arrive for ads and coupons to places that you may not have heard about before. Look through the local newspapers that get sent to your door for Community Calendars and articles on upcoming events. If you receive national magazines and flyers from your place of employment, be on the lookout for specials days or discounts mentioned.
When you are going about your day outside of your home running errands or heading to and from work, be on the lookout for ads for upcoming events. Those little signs stuck in the ground all around intersections are no longer just political or business ads. You can find out about local fairs and festivals while you're waiting at the red light. Events will also use billboards and marquees to advertise to drivers. If you are already out at an event or place that you enjoy, look for flyers and ads for things just like what you are already doing. Another great place outside the home to find local information is your library. Every time we go, we look for free local magazines, flyers, travel brouchures, ads, etc.
So now that you have this huge pile of possible things to do, what do you do with all of it? Since it's really annoying to think something looks interesting and then not think about it again until a week after it's over, our recommendation is to maintain a calendar to keep all your event information organized and accessible. To avoid feeling overwhelmed or having your husband glance at your family calendar and question why you are going to a balloon festival, yoga in the park, a carnival, and an art opening all on one day, keep your event calendar separate from your everyday calendar. The point is not to run around and do everything, but to stay in the know about what you could be doing if you want to. Once you decide that a certain event is a definite, then you should add it to the family calendar.
Many events are or become annual things, so be sure and jot them down for next year's enjoyment. And if you find yourself having that conversation where you discover something amazing the day after it ended, add it to next year's calendar so that won't happen again. Although, now that you know how to stay informed about local events, it is more likely yourself who will be telling people about all the fun you just had and leaving them to wish that they had known about it too.