Too many small towns seem to represent the heart and soul of America. These more rural intersections of culture and nature can be great reminders of what it means to live more simply and put your mind at ease. On top of visiting, there are plenty of things to do in a small town that can change your perspective, relax your spirit, and help you make new friends.
Or, you could plan a group excursion and make new memories with familiar friends. Many small towns feature resorts specific to the area or quaint bed and breakfasts that can offer a more personal experience. Whichever type of experience you choose, there' are plenty of things to do in a small town and ways of exploring. Here, we'll break down some of the ways you can make your getaway more meaningful. Hopefully, by the end of your experience, you'll have plenty of stories that only you could tell about the time you spent.
What Is Considered a Small Town Escape?
A small town escape is any kind of excursion that leads you to an area of the country where you're away from a major population center. The good news is that you don't have to fly to Alaska to do this. Even if you live in a big city, you can easily drive or even take a train an hour or two outside a major metropolitan area and find yourself in a small town. Be sure you get adequate directions and plan your itinerary in advance. This way, when you arrive in your small town of choice, you know just what kind of options are available to you. This is especially important for evening activities, as most small-town businesses close early.
Is Small Town as Exciting as the City?
A small town can be every bit as exciting as a big city if you know where to look. Also, knowing all of the things to do in a small town or a series of small towns will make your decision about where to go easier. For example, what interests you the most about small town living? Is it the community? Or, perhaps it's connecting with nature. One of the best ways to seek out this excitement and form your own adventure is to do some research before you begin. Check out a list of historical landmarks. Call back some of the places you've read about that are both real places as well as fantasy. Take a minute and imagine the perfect day.
Here Are 8 Things to Do in a Small Town
Once you've decided on the small town of your choosing based on the aspects of culture and town identity that are most important to you, it's time to plan your days in this new landscape. Here we'll go over some common things you can do no matter which small town you land in. Remember, taking the time to get a snapshot of the town and its history can greatly influence how your trip will go. So, don't be afraid to dive deep when looking for things to do in a small town.
Check Out the Town's Local Watering Holes
This could be a diner that everyone makes an appearance at every now and then. It could also be a community center or public park. Then again, maybe the spot that everyone sometimes gathers in is a point in the center of town that doesn't really have any clear marking or delineation at all. That's all part of the charm. You may have to figure out where this is by talking to locals, which is part of the fun of making discoveries.
Does the small town you've arrived at have moments in its history that are particularly notable or that contributed to a major historical event? Maybe some of the things to do in a small town aren't really things to 'do' per se but places where you can imagine what took place on a given spot. Often times, small unassuming towns were the places where the tide of a war was turned or a prolific writer composed an American classic. In this vein, you may find yourself in a small town where a major player in history was born. In these cases, there could be museums or exhibits set up around their birthplace/where they were raised.
Connecting with Arts and Culture
Be sure to check out some of the local arts scene if there's one to speak of. See if there's a town periodical that lists what events are happening and how you can get involved. Usually, these guides are hiding in plain sight. Again, if you're having trouble figuring out things to do in a small town once you've arrived, you can always ask a local. Hopefully, it will be a friendly local that'll be proud of what their town has to offer. Even if they're not as helpful, you'll have had a unique experience. Also, look into the kind of art or culture that's expressed. Is it mainly music? Is it crafts like pottery? Or, is it simply the town architecture?
Check Out the Major Commerce Centers
Usually, when it comes to things to do in a small town, the small towns themselves have thought about how to present themselves to visitors on some level. So, why not see how they handle that presentation? Check out the visitors center if there is one; make your way to the places where people are selling local wares and ask them to tell their story. You may never meet the people you interact with again, so don't be afraid to truly connect with the people you run into. It could make all the difference in how special your time spent there is.
Ask Around and Connect with Nature
Some of the hardest things to research when it comes to smaller towns are the fantastic, and sometimes breathtaking, scenery that exists close-by. In this case, you'll be going outside the purview of the things to do in a small town and continuing on to what's just outside. Like in other instances we've mentioned, asking a local will be best. Some small towns have guides that will take you up to these incredible places in and through the natural world. The incredible thing is that these gems have been there before the towns themselves. In many cases, people only built these small towns because nature was gloriously revealed there.
Visit the Small Town During a Festival
One of the best ways to fully realize the character of a small town is to make your trip when the town itself is experiencing a time of festivity. This could be a whole season of themed events or just a series of days when the town pools together its resources and celebrates all of the things that make it special. No need to worry about being too much of a tourist here. Part of the whole point of coming to a town during a festival is to have an amazing time that you can tell your friends about. Then, maybe they too will take a trip and check out this special place during that special time.
Check Out the Local Parks
Finally, there will always be interesting ways that people in the small town you choose have decided to give space back to nature within the town itself. Even if it's as simple as a baseball park where the kids play or a field where there are fairgrounds. It can be tempting to walk into a green space and say, 'there's nothing going on. But, that's part of the fun of figuring out things to do in a small town. You've got to make the experience your own. As long as you're continually exploring and becoming more aware of your surroundings, there will always be something going on. You'll see things that others might miss.
Make a New Friend
We've referred to it many times, but maybe the local that you talk to for advice can become a new friend of yours. The whole point of discovering new places can also be to make new friends and connect from two different backgrounds. Who knows, maybe when the friend you make is visiting the place where you live, you'll be able to show them around and take your own personal pride in the place that you call home.
We hope this list has inspired you to travel and to figure out your own list of things to do in a small town. When you take the plunge and decide to choose your own adventure, you'll be honoring an age-old human tradition of exploration. You'll surely feel satisfaction in knowing how others live, even after you've returned from your trip. It's a funny thing to ponder. During every single moment, entire lifetimes of experiences are playing out across people's lives all over the country. Do yourself a favor and go explore how some of them are happening. Even right now. Good luck!
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