Small Towns: What to Know BEFORE You Go!

//Small Towns: What to Know BEFORE You Go!

Small Towns: What to Know BEFORE You Go!

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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By |2010-04-27T15:12:14+00:00September 24th, 2009|Extras|21 Comments

About the Author:

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of Little More than a website, Little Indiana is a book, "Little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" (IU Press) awarded first place in the "Best in Indiana Journalism for a Nonfiction Book" by the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Little Indiana is also a bi-monthly newspaper column in a local paper and a PBS segment on the former Emmy award-winning program, "The Weekly Special."


  1. Olivia November 20, 2010 at 11:35 am

    A few other things I’d like to add:

    1. Don’t talk about people behind their back.
    A. Everyone knows everyone.
    B. Every other person is related.

    2. When asking for directions the residents will tell you places, not street names, so be prepared to look out for the buildings.

    3. Don’t complain how there aren’t any, or many, fast food places. Our town was pumped when we got a Subway.

    4. Almost everything is ‘Mom and Pop’ stuff. Even our grocery store.

  2. Jessica April 29, 2010 at 12:33 am

    I love this! A few years ago, my family went to the tiny town in Kansas where my Gram was born and we definitely experienced some of these things.

    Stopping by from SITS.
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..Long Overdue Thank You =-.

  3. Nolie April 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Love this post. I find the idea of small towns fantastic. I think they are “cute” and always wants to go walk around one. I am just so scared of looking stupid since I am not a local. Like “oh hey look it’s a tourist”.
    .-= Nolie´s last blog ..Mother’s Day =-.

  4. Jessica Nunemaker April 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    @Mommie Daze — So true! Though there are often events around town which helps but, yeah, everything is closed by 5!

    @Melissa — I think that’s totally correct. It smells better in “little.” Less cars, more trees.

    @Caitlin — Thanks! I hope they enjoy it! 🙂

    @Hanneke — Yeah, not so much yoga — but tap dancing! I would love to have easy access to an advanced adult class but…nope. Not yet!

    @Becky — You are so right. Really — whats the hurry?

  5. Rachel April 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Haha! “Country Kitsch” – I like it. I don’t get it, but it is so true!
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Girls Gone Wise Giveaway! =-.

  6. Becky April 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I so love #’s 2 and 5. I honestly believe that #2 should be followed NO MATTER where you live. People take life a little to serious and fast when they are driving. And I love your attitude about #5, why does everyone think that because you live in a small town you’re dumb. I guess Hollywood doesn’t help with that either.

    And I love that it was a top 9!!! 🙂
    .-= Becky´s last blog ..The Way We Spend Our Saturdays =-.

  7. Date Girl April 28, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I grew up in a small town and I know first hand how odd their hours can be. Great advice! Happy Sits day.
    .-= Date Girl´s last blog ..Post it Note Tuesday-Miss Cranky Pants =-.

  8. Tiffany April 28, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Perfect advice!!!
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Sundays in My City — Lazy Sunday in Suburbia Ohio =-.

  9. Double Wide Mom April 28, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Here from SITS and I LOVE your tips. I especially like #2. Folks just gotta slow doooown.
    .-= Double Wide Mom´s last blog ..I Sing Because I’m Happy! I Sing Because I’m Free! =-.

  10. Hanneke Nelson April 28, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I left the big city for a small town several years ago, then an even smaller town several months ago. I really love it, but I do miss my yoga classes…

    Happy SITS Day! Enjoy the comment love today.

  11. Caitlin April 28, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Great post! I’m going to email my girlfriend whose Husband’s family is from Indiana about your blog. She would love it! Happy SITS Day!
    .-= Caitlin´s last blog ..HAPPYBABY Review & Giveaway =-.

  12. Chelsea April 28, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Congrats on your SITS day!! Love your small town tips, they are really great!

  13. Marie Cole April 28, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I love the tips! 🙂
    .-= Marie Cole´s last blog ..Gummi Love =-.

  14. Kenya April 28, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I use to live in a small town and these are some great tips. Happy SITS Day!
    .-= Kenya´s last blog ..Family =-.

  15. Lorri Jeanne April 28, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I would rather go to a small town than a city any day!
    .-= Lorri Jeanne´s last blog ..Angel And Apostle =-.

  16. Mommie Daze April 28, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Ha! Great tips. The little Michigan town we live in now rolls the sidewalks up at 5 every day.
    .-= Mommie Daze´s last blog ..Did You Think Kids Need to Go to Pre-school? =-.

  17. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) April 28, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Heh, your list is oh so true! I grew up in the Seattle area, so when I moved to rural PA I was really needing some bread crumbs… 😉

    Happy SITS Day! 🙂
    .-= Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)´s last blog ..Random Tuesday Thoughts – Washer, “iPod”, Rain and Dinosaur Songs =-.

  18. Melissa @Cellulite Investigation April 28, 2010 at 6:59 am

    My brother lives in a rural area of Pennsylvania and you’re making me homesick for a visit. There’s just something about that small town feel that makes you want to keep coming back. Even the air feels so different.
    .-= Melissa @Cellulite Investigation´s last blog ..The Rolling Pin Treatment: Does It Work? =-.

  19. Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner April 28, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Small towns! Ha, I just moved to this little small town in CT from Los Angeles. Ok, it’s not that small but it sure feels small to me. I should have read this post first. Country Kitsch is alive and well around here. Happy SITS!

    Alex aka Ma, What’s For Dinner
    .-= Alex aka Ma What’s For Dinner´s last blog ..Supreme Upside Down Pizza =-.

  20. Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" April 28, 2010 at 3:54 am

    I never would have thought about bringing plenty of cash since I always charge everything. Good tip! I like supporting small business too.

    Congrats on your SITS day.
    .-= Karen, author of “My Funny Dad, Harry”´s last blog ..Whoa! Where Am I (Part 2-Gerard) =-.

  21. Mary at Deep South Dish April 28, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Great post! Happy SITS feature day.
    .-= Mary at Deep South Dish´s last blog ..Step by Step Homemade Mississippi Roast Beef Po’Boy with Gravy =-.

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