The Goonies Guide to Hometown Adventure

“Heyyyyy youuuuuu guuuuuuuys!”

If you were born at any point from 1970 to 1990, you’ve probably seen The Goonies a million times.  Just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick breakdown of the plot: a group of unpopular misfit kids, in a sleepy town with nothing to do, discover a treasure map in their attic and go on a crazy treasure-hunting, mob-chasing, pirate-finding adventure.

As a short, skinny kid growing up in a sleepy town in Massachusetts (Sandwich, MA. Yes, I’m serious), the idea of a group of underdogs finding adventure and taking control in a less-than-ideal situation sounded pretty swell to me.

Hmmm…sounds like another group of people I know!

Here’s the awesomely 80’s trailer:

The Goonies Trailer

Today, I want to pay homage to Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee, as he is now known) and the rest of the Goonies by learning some valuable lessons on how to better improve our own lives in our home towns!

[feel free to listen to the Goonies-inspired “So long, Astoria” by the Ataris while reading]

Explore your own town

The goonies sat around feeling sorry for themselves because their town was about to be bulldozed and turned into a golf course (can that actually happen, by the way?).  Fortunately, they discovered a treasure map and found out that their home town was in fact WAY MORE AWESOME than they realized.  Full of history, caves, pirate ships, and mobsters.  It turns out these things were right under their nose the whole time – they just didn’t know it.

How well do you know your own town?  

I was at a wedding this past weekend in Atlanta where I had recently lived for three years.  One of my friends took his fiance to explore Atlanta, visiting places like the Coke Museum and the famous Georgia Aquarium.  I have NEVER been to either place, and there are probably dozens and dozens of other things I never did in Atlanta either…simply because they were deemed “touristy” and I was a “local.”

When living in San Diego, the ONLY reason I went to the world-famous zoo was because I had friends in town!

It’s easy to get sucked into a boring routine in your own town because everything is so familiar = go to work, come home, eat dinner, play Diablo III or watch TV, go to bed.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You are better than that.

It’s time to explore your own home town:

  • Drive around until you find a new unexplored park or hiking trail.  Go there on an early Saturday morning, bring a healthy lunch, and hike for the day!
  • Be a tourist!  If you’re in a city, take a bus tour.  If you’re in a big city, try finding a walking tour.  I took one in each city I went to in Europe and it was a great way to learn about the history of the city and it was also great exercise.
  • Walk.  Walk out of your neighborhood, and pick left or right.  As soon as you come to a new street, walk down it.  I aim to walk for at least thirty minutes to an hour every day – why not use that time to explore your city and discover what’s down each street?
  • Stuck on a college campus during the summer? Do what Thomas did and try to get into every building.

Use technology to your advantage

Data, from the goonies

My favorite character in the Goonies crew is probably Data.  

This inventor of (usually nonfunctional) gadgets helped keep the Goonies one step ahead of the Fratellis, the evil mobsters hunting them.   From flying down zip-lines through screen doors to using slick shoes to foil any pursuers, Data utilized his brain and technology to make his life better…usually.

I definitely tried to rig up my own bully buster when I was a kid…Didn’t work out too well.

…but that’s neither here nor there.

Back to Data!  You need to be acting like him, utilizing your brain and technology to improve YOUR situation:

  • There’s this great thing called the “Internet” that’s on the verge of taking off.  From using it to find things to do in your town, to plotting out your next hike or the tallest mountain nearest you, there’s no limit to the amount of great things you can discover in your own back yard.
  • How about Geocaching? Although I’ve never done it, I hear Geocaching is a ridiculously fun time.  Download a GoeCaching application for your phone (or use your GPS and get the coordinates), and go on a hunt for treasure!  Who knows what you’ll find!
  • Read the wikipedia entry for your town/city.  You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.  Tourists come to your town (yeah, even YOUR town) for a reason. Find out what they do, and go do it.
  • Google “things to do in [city], [state], [country].”  I bet some travel blogger has blogged about your town and created a “Top 10 list of things to do in ________.”

Make everything epic

pirate ship

Life is only as boring as you make it.  

As Chris Guillebeau taught us, “Forget about what you can’t do and take responsibility for what you can.”

Stuck in a boring town with a boring life?  You have two options:

  • Complain and do nothing about it.  This is what 95% of people do.  This is NOT what Nerd Fitness Rebels do.
  • Change your latitude or attitude.  Don’t like your home town?  Get out of there.  Can’t change your living situation? Then quit feeling sorry for yourself and find a way to make life there more exciting!

This is only limited by your imagination.

Now, you probably won’t have caves filled with booby traps, mobsters racing you to ancient pirate ships, and chests of gold doubloons, but you can still find great adventures and make things way cooler than they really are.

Pick five things in your town and set a goal to accomplish them within six months. Here are five examples:

  • Meet the Mayor of the city – find out who your mayor is, figure out the schedule, and get that photo op.  Buy a comically oversized key or giant check and use it as a prop in the picture.  You can tell your kids you were given the key to the city some day.  By the time you’re a grandparent, you’re probably forget why you had the key in the first place and actually believe you were given it for a reason!
  • Discover “buried treasure” – if you live on a beach or near a pond, rent a metal detector, and start walking.  Find a watch or necklace, and you can cross “buried treasure” off the list.
  • Climb the tallest mountain – depending on where you live, this could be VERY easy or VERY difficult.
  • Walk from one side of town to the other.  Yup, might take you ALLLLL day, or a few days.  Have your buddy droop you off 20 miles from your place and you have to find the most creative way home.  If Nate can walk across America, I think you can walk across your town.
  • Swim in every lake – Find your lakes on a map, get your swim trunks and flippy floppies, and start knocking them off the list.
  • Find a secret beach/hiking spot/location – Hike through the woods and see if you can track down a cool remote spot that you can call your own.  Bring a book and a lunch and have an afternoon dedicated just to you.  Or bring your boyfriend/girlfriend and have a really unique (and free) picnic.
  • Come up with your own ideas – this is your homework for the day.  See below!

Goonies never say die!

The Goonies were a group of normal kids that never said “die!”

They were dealt a crappy hand, lived in a “boring” town, and found a way to make life more exciting.

Are you a complainer?

Or are you a Goonie?

Your challenge for this weekend Identify something awesome to do in your own home town, leave a comment about what you’re going to do, and then DO IT.  Not next weekend, not next month.  But this weekend!

Here’s mine:  I’m still technically homeless at this point, but I’ll be moving to Portland, OR on June 1st for three months.  My plan is to visit Cannon Beach and take my picture in front of the three rocks from The Goonies.

Your turn.




photo source: never say die, astoria rocks, data, map

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83 thoughts on “The Goonies Guide to Hometown Adventure

  1. Love this post! Last summer, we visited our library for a guidebook – to our own city. It was filled with tons of unfamiliar places/activities/restaurants.

  2. Cant believe I won a t-shirt.  I have never won anything before but then again I have never told anyone that my big life long goal is to become Batman before either 🙂

  3. Awesome post as always Steve! I’m always on the lookout for new things to do but living in London that’s usually pretty easy! I’ve got a few hours spare on saturday morning so I’m going to use them to explore some new corners of Hampstead Heath (the gigantic park near where I live that’s easy to get lost in!) Last time I got lost around there I found a small zoo with Donkeys and Llamas that I had no idea was there! 

  4. Just saying… If you’re in Portland for three months you should make a trip to visit your northern neighbor. (Canada :)!). Those are the three best months of the year here and just gotta say Vancouver Island is wicked!

  5. Fun post Steve!!!   Here in Loudoun County we’ve got a ton of things to do (yes, there is a life outside of Washington DC!)….for example we have an organic distillery – – and on Monday we are helping bottle!!!  

  6. I love going down new roads in my area. The hills are a major workout on my bike, but I love sneaking out into horse country and seeing old buildings and awesome gardens.

  7. Hey! Can you email me at staci at with your address and what size? 🙂

  8. Hi Steve, I live in Portland and love a good trip to Canon Beach, and adventuring all around the area. I think you’ll love it here, and I’ll look forward to hearing about your exploits as I’ll have familiarity with all that you’re about to experience.

    Portland is an awesome place to live!

  9. Excellent post! Forget waiting on family to come for a visit to have an excuse, I’m going to explore 100 Acres at the Indianapolis Museum of Art this weekend.

  10. If anyone is in Indianapolis, IN or better Speedway, IN I could use a walking/hiking buddy in the evenings or weekends!

  11. I live in Speedway, IN host and home to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing… well this weekend is the race, which usually means my fat arse walking around for 10+ hours Saturday around the coke field perusing topless women, lots and lots of drunken people, seeing crazy displays outside of busses and rv’s, getitng free beer & food and getting way too much sun. It’s going to be in the 90’s Saturday though so that might only be 3-4 hours of me walking not 10+.

    In other news, if anyone is in Indy (or Speedway) I’m always in need of a battle buddy for walking/hiking on evenings or weekends! Or even throwing sandbags at each other or something *nods*

  12. Hey Steve, I live in Portland. Its a great place to live well. Are you planning a meet-up in town after you settle in?

  13. Awesome post!  I seriously spent at least one summer of my childhood watching The Goonies everyday.  I think this weekend is the perfect weekend to find the lake in Emigration Canyon that my husband and I have been talking about for over a year already!

  14. Love it!  There’s SO much to do/explore in Honolulu (and not just the touristy stuff).. you’ve inspired me.. thanks Steve!!  🙂  (And remember, you always have a free place to stay in Honolulu.. no payment-by-tank-tops necessary.)  😀

  15. More than a year back, I was biking with a friend of mine and we went too far, and by accident discovered a lake. It’s not secluded or anything, there were many people there, just that we didn’t know about it.

    I have never been there since, but we spent a very beautiful morning there, after having biked a considerable distance. This weekend I will find that lake again, with my boyfriend, and have a nice picnic lunch.

    Thank you for the inspiration!!

  16. As I read your post I was thinking about the geocaching I do, and lo and behold you then talked about it!  It’s great for discovering new places, countryside paths and ks etc, and something fun to do as well.  Only this week I discovered a teeny tiny park 15 minutes away from my office that I had no idea existed!  Have also discovered lots of new public footpaths around my village. Would definitely recommend it.

  17. Sometimes I get on a bus and ride it until I’m in a place I haven’t been before, and then take a walk around that neighborhood.  It helps to grab a bus schedule before you hop off the bus!

  18. Now Cyndi Lauper’s Goonie’s r Good Enough is playing in my head! 

    I live in Orlando, which is easy to find any sort of touristy fun thing you want to do. The actual city is at least 30-45 minutes from any of the theme parks, and doesn’t get nearly as much attention. 
    I’m working on starting a running tour of some of the historic sites of the city. I like to run, and figured it would be good way for people to keep up their fitness while on vacation. 

    This past weekend I also helped organize a running 10K bar crawl. We had 8 participants hit up five Orlando staple bars. 

    Downloading some geocaching stuff and I will make that part of my weekend adventure. We have plenty of parks to explore within walking/running distance from my home that I can reexplore. 

  19. Good luck at Regionals Staci!!!! 😀

    I highly recommend for anyone looking for things to do in their town. Very small towns may not have any Meetup groups, but you could always start one or travel a little ways to get to one.

  20. these days are my city”s days, of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and on Sunday evening i am going to a classical music concert in one of the town”s squares

  21. PS. FWIW We are open this weekend for farm tours, the start of our normal farm tour season, open every Saturday from now until the end of September. 

  22. I  am planning to walk the 4 km or so to the ecological garden shop and buy lots of eco veggies!   (Having a little heat wave in Norway just now so going to enjoy it on Saturday!)

  23. I will double down on the Meetup recommendation. I did it a few years ago before getting into a relationship & now I’m back at it. It’s a great way to do anything from get out of your comfort zone to finding people just (approximately) like you. I joined one in Minneapolis called Geek Physique.  🙂

  24. Neat site! Thanks for the link. Strangely, for Minneapolis it skips from 6 to 11. Of course the most popular is the Mall of America, and as far as I’m concerned, in that place there be dragons!

  25. GGreat post! I loved the Goonies! You always have something to say gets me thinking and to follow in your footsteps

  26. Don’t just explore your town—support your local businesses, especially if you live in a small town! It could get even more boring than you already think it is, trust me, if the local businesses fail and there is truly absolutely nothing to do. I live in a beautiful little town and the best part of living here has been exploring its secret spots and history. I hike to the mulberry trees as soon as they ripen, and forage for other wild edibles. My husband is exploring the history of two railroad disasters, and his work is resulting in a plaque being installed to remember the deceased. There used to be an incredible burger joint run out of a kitchen about the size of a hallway, a jewelry boutique run by a NYC designer, a children’s toy store that gave local moms a place to sell their own creations, and a funky breakfast /lunch place run by a local musician. now we have … For Sale or Lease signs 🙁

  27. Last year, while training for my first marathon I ran through the park near my home for countless miles.  I stuck to the roads inside the park the whole time, day after day, week after week.  Then last summer, on an easy run, I peeled off onto the nature trail for the first time.  I was stunned at what I found.  Countless paths, creeks, ponds, waterfalls.  All in the middle of my hectic suburbia and never knew it.  

    Can’t wait to see what I find around here this summer.

  28. If anyone is looking for trails, routes, etc, the American Volkssport Association ( has a list of year-round, seasonal, and weekend events for walking/jogging/running (primarily 5K/10K), biking, swimming, and the seasonal snowshoeing and cross-country skiing for the northern tier locales.  What’s nice is that most routes goes through parts of town that you may not normally go through.

  29.  I’ve been discovering new places on walks around the city I live in (Brighton, UK) and had a great time recently. Got a new target to start exploring on the South Downs just north-east of me too in the next few weeks. Can’t do Saturday but I will make my first trip out there on Sunday instead.

    One of the things odd touristy Brighton has that fit’s in with the Goonies theme is going underground! To be exact a guided tour of our Victorian sewers – . I’ve been meaning to go for a while so will have to do it this summer.

  30. The geocaching community would love to welcome new crossovers over at In addition to downloading apps as the link says above, you can search by zip code. There are several different kinds of caching games to play and some Cachers go so far as to create elaborate puzzles. There’s a guy here who’s set up a circuit of interesting headstones at old community cemeteries in the little towns that grew up into our metroplex. 

  31. My husband and I discovered a few out-of-the-way places around our small town where someone’s painted some neat (legal) street art, so instead of our regular evening “constitutional,” my husband and I are going to grab the camera and hunt all over town to find as many of these little surprises as we can. Can’t happen THIS weekend, though, since we’ll be out of town, but once we return…most definitely happening.

  32. Indeed! You could say that invention…

    *puts on sunglasses*

    got him out of a pinch.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

  33. Steve, if you wish to live in a city for just the summer, you should check with the local university(s).  A lot of students who live in apartments or shared housing go home for the summer, and they would happily “sublet” you their space rather than let it sit empty.  A few school dorms even rent their rooms.

  34. Brilliant post Steve, this was always one of my FAVE movies as a kid (and a grownup, I’ll admit it!), I remember my friends and I making Treasure maps and going on treasure hunts when we were little. Never found any pirate gold though…

    Living in Sydney, there is a TONNE of things to do and see here that I know I don’t take advantage of, and I resolve here and now to change that!

    Keep up the good work Steve.

  35. This brings back memories of playing ding dong ditch as a kid in Sandwich, MA with a buddy of mine.

  36. Hey look, my site’s mentioned in this post! More than honored. Also, I’m super pumped that t-shirts are back and just ordered mine. Once I get home from Japan it’ll be time to see if it really can stand up to magma and bullets.

  37. love this post! Spend my memorial day up in the mountains at our favorite swimming hole.We have lots of tourists and its insane to me how people will come from all around to visit but many of the people that live here don’t enjoy the beautiful mountains around us 🙂

  38. Hit the hometown Memorial day parade.  We only live a few years in each place, so we don’t often do hometown things, usually just hit the big tourist sites.  The kids enjoyed all the fire trucks and high school bands. 

  39. Hmm… I was too busy this weekend to look at NF but I definitely did this.  I’m waiting for a buddy to post some pictures, but we ended up 84+ miles north of Madison, WI as we visited 3 different state parks!  We drove through a few thunderstorms and battled blood-sucking mosquitoes, but found some really awesome rock formations (and scrambled up them).  Oh, and did it all in my new ‘battle tested’ NF t-shirt. Thanks for the inspiration!  (As for this weekend, the plan is Pirates vs. Brewers at Miller Park Saturday and paintball Sunday before I’m on a plane to Atlanta for the week!)

    Edit to add: And oh yeah, I created a board game this weekend, as well!

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