Recently, Cynthia Morris introduced the idea of “creative excursions” to my readers. Cynthia calls them “excursions,” Julia Cameron calls them “Artist Dates” and I like to call them creative adventures. They’re times when you leave your laptop screen and go out to have fun and explore the real world. Hopefully, you come back from the experience feeling invigorated and excited to create.
I’ve learned that these creative adventures are essential to the writing process. They breathe life into a writing routine that can often become boring and tedious if not checked. Creative adventures help you move past your writing blocks, inspire you, and solve most creative problems in no time. Plus, they bring a certain vibrancy back into your life.
So, today, instead of recommending books, I’d like us to share some of our favorite creative adventures. These are places you’ve been to, or things you’ve done, that have really got your creative juices flowing and led to some great writing sessions.
And since not everyone can afford to go to Europe or Hawaii on a whim, I thought we’d focus on adventures that would go easy on our wallets as well.
As always, I’ll go first. Here’s my 5 Favorite Creative Adventures to have on a low-budget:
The most visited observatory in the world is also the most stunning. (Okay, I don’t know that. It’s the only observatory I’ve ever been to, but just play along.) Whatever you do, DO NOT visit the observatory during the day. You’re just cheating yourself if you do. The first time I visited the observatory was during the day and the experience was very underwhelming.
But last year I visited the newly renovated structure, and I have to say: I was blown away. First of all, the inside has a new, lower level complete with a Leonard Nimoy Auditorium where astrologers and scientists share their latest galactic discoveries with the public. There’s tons of fun exhibits that you can interact with, including scales to check your weight on all the different planets. You can gape at the breathtaking images from space projected on screens all around you or you can examine the artifacts of real-life pieces of asteroids enclosed in glass boxes that would tempt any comic-book villain.
But the best part is when you step outside of the observatory and witness the panoramic view of Los Angeles city. There, you get to witness the vibrant lights of the modern metropolis, the sparkling stars in the night sky, and, if you look closely, a peak of the Hollywood sign hiding underneath the shadows nearby. It’s like being on the balcony of Mount Olympus.
Make sure you visit “the most viewed-through” telescope in the world while you’re there, and experience the magic of being so close to the moon, it feels like you can literally touch it.
Beat that, Pirates of The Caribbean 4 in 3D.
Cost: Free parking and entrance. Tickets for the Planetarium shows range from $3-7 dollars.
Santa Monica Pier and The Third Street Promenade
The promenade on the weekends is always bustling with people. It’s also one of the few places I’ve been to that welcomes street performers looking to turn a buck through their art. There are break dancers, gymnasts, singers, and musicians. It’s fun to just walk around and follow a crowd as it spontaneously gathers to watch an impromptu street performance.
The beach and the pier is walking distance from the Promenade, so you can’t help but swing by and listen to the soothing sound of the waves as they bend and crash against the shore–punctuated by the thrilling cries coming from the ferris wheel nearby.
As you take in the stunning orange sun as it falls beneath the horizon, you begin to realize why this place has inspired popular songs and remained a go-to destination for artists.
Cost: Free except for parking. Parking prices have been going up in LA for years so be expected to pay up to $10 dollars for parking.
The Getty and The Getty Villa
The Getty is a must-see for any artist living in Southern California and the best thing is that it’s completely free.
The Getty features a vast collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to… blah, blah, blah, whatever.
Truly, the only reason you want to go to The Getty is to witness the greatest feature of The Getty: The Getty itself. When you walk through the magnificent structures at The Getty, it feels like you’re walking through an art studio designed for corporate CEO’s–from the future. It’s a great place just to walk around and get inspired by the little things you see, like a cactus garden that jets out into the hills, or a layout of flowers that looks like it was designed by Tim Burton on his wedding day.
Then, there’s the one-of-kind view: you can see the whole city of Los Angeles, including the shoreline, from the museum’s balconies. The bummer is that this view becomes invisible on a smoggy day–which, for LA, is most days.
The Getty Villa, in Malibu, is smaller and less impressive, but is still worth seeing.
It features art work from Roman and Greek antiquity… blah, blah, blah, whatever.
The reason you go to the Villa is so you can experience walking through a recreation of a first-century Roman country house. While you’re there, it’s very easy to suspend your belief and imagine you’re about to be served grapes on bronze plate and visited by Zeus, the Greek God of Thunder.
Cost: Both museums are free to visit. Parking is $15 before 5 p.m.
Your Local Park
Believe it or not, your local park can be a pretty magical place to visit. I’ve visited my local park several times to gather inspiration for my novel. One day, I got around to reading some of the signs on the exhibits at the park. I was surprised to discover that, in the early 1900s, the locals used to call the park “Fairyland” because of its “magical” effect on visitors.
What a wonderful place for a fantasy writer to be visiting, right? And I didn’t even know it!
Not to mention that, once in a while, they’ll hold fairs on the park grounds. Sometimes, I’ll decide to go to the park to meditate only to find that I’ve run into an annual PowWow, a Hawaiian Expo, or even a historical reenactment. It’s then that, all of sudden, my local park becomes a perfect playground for my imagination.
Website: Search your city or town’s website for events they might be hosting at your local park.
Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite things to go to, or places to go to when you want to get your creative juices flowing? Please share with us in the comments below.
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