According to Dr. Robert Wuthnow in his book “Small Town America”, more than 30 million Americans live in small towns. The RV lifestyle has granted us the opportunity to visit many of these small towns, and I find myself wanting to explore more.
Small Town USA are usually hidden gems among the vast landscape of America, and most often have a population under 20,000. They are rich in history offering small museums, downtown boutiques, and quirky attractions. But…How do you find things to do when visiting these small towns?
Small Town Life
Growing up in a small town, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me later in life or the values that I learned would dictate the type of person I strive to be every day. You see, when I was young, all I ever wanted was to “get out” of that small town as fast as could.
It was always my dream to get my education, land that ideal big-city career, and leave all that I had known far behind. I didn’t appreciate that everyone knew everyone, that neighbors were friendly and often came to visit in the evenings. Or that life just moved a little slower. I only knew that small-town life wasn’t for me. Little did I know, that as an adult, I would crave small-town life. That I would seek it out in my travels. I would immerse myself in the history and culture of whatever small town I was visiting.
Learning Big City Life Is Not For Me
After I graduated, I set out on my dream of big city life. I moved away and found the career of a lifetime. I was happy in my chosen life path – getting married, having children, being successful, and making a great income. But, it was different! No one spoke to one another (I never really knew my neighbors). I was always too busy to sit and visit with anyone including those I loved most. I worked until all hours of the night, hustling the children to and from activities, eating fast food, and barely having enough time to sleep. Life seemed more complicated…busier…faster! And the fast-food didn’t help with my figure…
It all changed when we began our full-time RV journey. I came to realize that life is truly what you make of it. Success isn’t in how much stuff you have or how big your house is, but it’s the amount of love and community you share with the ones around you. I get why my parents always stayed in that small town. It’s the history, the people, the quietness that surrounds them.
Top Tips To Finding Things To Do
Listed below are five tips that help me uncover amazing things to do in our favorite small-town USA travel destinations.
GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS
Getting to know the locals requires driving around, going to coffee shops, attending the local church services, and just talking to each other. Most of the time, people who have grown up or lived in small towns are proud of where they are from. They are always eager to share neat places to explore, and what it means to live in their community.
VISIT DOWNTOWN OR FIND MAIN ST
Did you know that most towns have a road called Main St? Most of the time, you can find it right in the center of town. You would be surprised how many times we’ve stopped on Main St. and come across festivals or museums or historical buildings. You may even come across an older gentleman who has lived in the town since 1936 and offers to give you the complete history of how it all began.
STOP BY THE VISITOR CENTER
A town’s visitor center provides tons of information about nearby attractions and upcoming events. Sometimes it’s located next door to the Mayor’s House, which ends up being a goat. Yes, in Lajitas, Texas, a small town near Big Bend National Park, the mayor is an actual goat. His name is Clay Henry III and spends most of the day drunk because he just happens to love the taste of beer. Visitors from all over come to toss one back with him, and tend to leave the empty bottles around his pen.
When finding things to do in small towns, google is my friend. It always knows the top sights to see and the best things to do. It even lets you know if there is a fee and when the attraction is opened. Many places have websites that can be found on google that provide helpful information about the area, but Trip Advisor is my go-to site to find nearby attractions.
Facebook events are a neat place to look when trying to find local things to do. To find events, login to Facebook and locate your menu, click on events, and then type your location. Sometimes Facebook automatically finds your location. Once there, you can find nearby attractions, and even recommended events like festivals, farmers markets, antique shows, and more.
Exploring Small Towns While Living The RV Lifestyle
From local roadside attractions to historical museums, small towns have been the best places we have visited on our journey. We’ve met amazing, hard-working people that we now call friends. We’ve learned more about the history of our great country, and have explored amazing places. Small towns offer so many unique things – gold mines, boutiques that were once brothels, and even a haunted house. I hope these tips will help in your travels – exploring Small Town USA.