Why only nine tips?  Well, I guess I am what some would call a rebel.  Everyone else does top ten lists, from Jay Leno to the blogger next door.  So, here’s my top nine tips on things to keep in mind when visiting a small town!

1. Animals Happen. Country roads have slower speed limits for a reason.  Indiana is one of the top ten states for deer and car collisions.  Keep your eyes peeled for animal critters in and near the road like squirrels, deer, and the random coyote or fox.

2. Breathe. Road rage will not make Farmer John in his shiny new tractor toodle along any faster.  It won’t move that little family of geese either.  It cannot fix potholes, repair flat tires, or pave a road.   Simmer down and go with the laid back country flow.  Really, what’s your hurry?

3. Cash and Carry. Small towns are notorious for cash only shops, as are restaurants, and even the occasional gas station!  Always bring enough cash “just in case.”  A good word of advice?  If a diner is cash-only, get ready for the best home cooked meal of your life!

4. Call Ahead! If you have your heart set on visiting a particular antique shop or awesome attraction: call ahead!  Small town shops and restaurants are notorious for closing early, taking off on vacation, and just generally having bizarre hours that don‘t always make a whole lot of sense…to outsiders that is.

5. Don’t Fence Me In. Small town does not mean small minded.  Don’t assume I am a country yokel without a serious thought in my head.  Just because we chose small town life doesn’t mean that we don’t travel the world or have our own investment portfolio.  You’d be surprised.

Oops.  This little guy happens to be in our yard.  It came with the house.  The kid seems to have developed a fascination with it…he moves it around the yard every time he sees it.    6. Bring The Breadcrumbs. Grab a GPS or a current map, something that can tell you how to get around without getting lost.  Locals may know these streets like the back of their hands but they also assume that you do too, and with alleyways or unusual layouts…it gets complicated.

7. Timing Is Everything. Check out the town’s big events and try to hit a couple.  There is a lot more to a small town than meets the eye.  The area Chamber of Commerce or Welcome Center is always a good first stop.  Otherwise, watch for signs advertising the current goings-on.

8. Shop Mom and Pop! C’mon, what is the point of visiting a small town if you are going to go to the same tired big box shops of the big city?  Think littleLet’s keep small towns the cute and quaint places they are and support the little guy!

9. Country Kitsch. Plastic or concrete, get ready for statues of deer, squirrels, pigs, ducks, angels, gnomes, even Jesus, in many, many a yard.  Hey, I once saw a giant 3 foot horse!  I don’t get it either, but there you go.  Consider yourself warned.

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