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Dear Reader,

Yesterday I told you that writing about places close to home — for small-market publications — can be the surest, easiest way to land a by-line.

With a few articles under your belt, I explained, you’ll have the “street cred” you need to start cashing in on perks… like free admission to museums, bargain hotel rooms, even all-expenses-paid trips.

Today, a local angle makes even more sense than ever. This recession has tourist businesses (well, businesses in general) coming up with all sorts of interesting ways to attract visitors. I’ll show you how you can turn their quirky ideas into profits and perks for yourself.

Read on below for the details…

Have a great weekend,

— Jen

Jennifer Stevens
Guest Editor

By Jennifer Stevens in Colorado Springs, CO

Try a “Beer Yoga” class Sunday mornings at Bristol Brewing Co. — comes with yoga instruction, a bottle of water, and a beer…

Spend the night at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and learn about the residents’ nocturnal habits…

Bring your dog to Sunday brunch at Nosh — they put a pool on the patio and keep canine treats at the ready…

Those are just three of the quirky business-boosting ideas I’ve spotted recently here in my hometown. But they’re indicative of the creative offerings you’ll find all over these days if you just go looking.

In a New York Times piece a few weeks back, I learned that 150 people turned up at the city’s Museum of Modern Art for a Saturday yoga class conducted in the second-floor atrium.

Back in April at the Hammer Museum, which is part of the University of California, Los Angeles, there was a “bike night.” You could ride your bike into the courtyard, have it valet parked, and enjoy cocktails and a screening of the movie “Breaking Away.”

With the economy contracting and people reigning in their travel budgets, U.S. destinations look better than ever to vacationers hoping to spend a little less this year.

That’s good news for you. Writing about your own hometown has always been a smart way to break into travel writing. But editors are more receptive than ever to “local” stories. And right now, there’s more than ever to write about.  It’s good news because it means you’ll have something out of the ordinary you can peg your story to. Editors love a legitimate “excuse” to write about a place.

So it’s worth your while to ferret out the quirky offerings I’m certain you can find. How? Try this…

** 1. Ask your tourist board how they’re marketing your city in these penny-pinching times. Ours here in Colorado Springs, for instance, has published a list of 100 free things you can do in town. What great article fodder.

** 2. Poke your head into a few local eateries and ask: “You guys have any interesting ‘events’ coming up? Or special deals with other businesses nearby?” I’m willing to bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

** 3. Call a handful of nearby hotels or inns (or simply check their websites) to see what sort of creative — or just bargain — package deals they may have on offer. The luxurious Broadmoor Resort near me recently ran a weekend special that slashed room prices to equal those that you’d typically pay at a cheapo motel.

** 4. Touch base at the places you take visitors when they come to see you. Have they launched any special, attention-grabbing programs or deals? The nature centers near me, for example, are offering all sorts of quirky programs this summer, ranging from guided hikes on full-moon nights to “Mushrooming for Beginners.”

[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.]