Summer is quickly winding down and the window of opportunity to get away with the family for a few days before the next school year is getting smaller. If your budget is tight and you don’t have the luxury of spending a king’s ransom at Disney Land or Fiesta Texas, taking time off from work and staying in town can still be fun.

Think about it, when you go on vacation what are the Top 3 touristy things you try to do? You check out the sights, go shopping, and do whatever fun stuff the city has to offer, right? Well, you can do all those things on an El Paso stay-cation too.

•Spend an afternoon at one of the family fun parks. Like Western Playland,  which features 20 + rides including the Hurricane, its newest roller coaster. For water rides and slides, there’s Wet n Wild Water World. If its indoor/outdoor fun you have in mind then take the kids to Bobo’s or Adventure Zone. Both have an arcade, miniature golf course and go-karts.

•Get close to nature. When's the last time you visited the El Paso Zoo? It’s bigger and better than ever now with the fairly recent additions of the African Star Train, the Hunt Family Desert Spring water feature and the Foster Tree House Playground. Home to 220 species of animals including endangered species, the zoo is a great place to run around and learn about the wild animals you see on TV.

The Licon Dairy in San Eli and Cattleman’s Steakhouse in Fabens are also good places to get close to the wildlife. Lincon Dairy’s petting zoo is made up of farm and exotic animals including buffalo and ostrich. Cattleman’s is way more than just one of the best steakhouses in the area, it’s an actual working ranch with breathtaking scenery that includes a lake, a children’s zoo, and a snake pit.

•Get high. The scenery doesn't get much more breathtaking than from high atop the Franklin Mountains. That’s where you’ll find the Wyler Aerial Tramway, and one of the most magnificent views of our city. For a truly memorable experience, take the family on a ride in one of the gondolas that soar above the vast canyon.

•Take In a Chihuahuas Game. By all accounts Southwest University Park is a jewel in the desert. If the family friendly fun of baseball isn’t enough to hold their attention, the Kids' Zone is a nice distraction while you raise a beverage and a foam finger and cheer the C-dogs on to victory.

•Spend a day visiting the Museum District. In Downtown alone there’s the Museum of Art, the Museum of History, the Holocaust Museum, and the "living laboratory museum for children of all ages,” El Paso Exploreum.

•Kick back for a night or two at a hotel. Two in particular come to mind. The Wyndham Airport Hotel, which features a four-story water slide, kiddy waterfall pool and “the largest hotel swimming pool in El Paso,” and the Doubletree Hotel downtown. The Doubletree's rooftop pool is cool enough, but if you time your stay with an El Paso Chihuahuas home stance, you can get a view of the action -- and Saturday's fireworks show -- from their terrace as well.

So you see, contrary to popular belief, there is plenty to do in our own backyard; I only scratched the surface. The key is to act like a tourist and rediscover – or in some cases, discover – the flavor El Paso and our surrounding area has to offer.