Tips to find cool places in small towns

My 8 Best Tips for Finding Hidden Gems in Small Towns

Last Updated on April 5, 2024

Small towns may seem like they don’t have much to offer, but they can actually be full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Some of the coolest places I’ve visited have been in small towns that weren’t in any guidebook or blog. From exploring local culture to utilizing technology, there are many ways to find hidden gems in small towns.


One of the best ways to find these cool places is to explore the local culture. Small towns often have unique traditions, festivals, and events that you won’t find anywhere else. By attending these events and talking to locals, you can get a better sense of what makes the town special and discover hidden gems that you might have otherwise missed. 


Engaging with residents is also a great way to find hidden gems. Locals can offer insider tips and recommendations that you won’t find in any guidebook.

Key Takeaways

  • Exploring local culture and attending unique events can help you find hidden gems in small towns.
  • Engaging with the people who live there and getting insider tips can lead you to discover hidden gems.
  • Utilizing technology, such as social media and online reviews, can also help you find hidden gems in small towns.
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Exploring Local Culture

When visiting a small town, exploring its local culture can be a great way to discover hidden gems. I love attending community events and visiting local museums, to gain a deeper understanding of the town’s history and traditions.


1. Attend Community Events

Attending community events is a great way to experience the local culture. Small towns often have festivals and fairs that showcase their unique traditions and heritage. These events can range from music festivals to food fairs to historical reenactments. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and get a taste of what makes the town special.


2. Visit Local Museums

Small towns often have museums that showcase their history and culture. These museums can provide insight into the town’s past and present, and offer a glimpse into its unique traditions and way of life. From local history museums to art galleries, there are many different types of museums to explore. Travelers can learn about the town’s founders, its early industries, and its notable residents. You can also discover local artists and artisans, and purchase handmade souvenirs to take home.

Engaging with Residents

Small towns are often known for their tight-knit communities, and engaging with locals can be one of the best ways to find hidden gems. Here are a few tips that I normally use to connect with the people who know the area best.


3. Chat with Locals

One of the easiest ways to engage with residents is to strike up a conversation with someone who lives in the area. Whether it’s a friendly store owner, a local at a coffee shop, or a neighbor you meet while out for a walk, chatting with locals can provide valuable insight into the town’s hidden gems.


When talking with locals, be sure to ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation. For example, instead of asking “What’s there to do around here?”, try asking “What’s your favorite thing to do in town?”. This can lead to more detailed answers and provide a better understanding of what makes the town unique.


4. Support Local Businesses

Another way to engage with residents and discover hidden gems is to support local businesses. Whether it’s a mom-and-pop shop, a family-owned restaurant, or a small art gallery, these businesses often have a deep connection to the community and can offer insider tips on the town’s hidden treasures.


In addition to supporting local businesses, I really like visiting farmers markets, craft fairs, and other community events, as they can be a great way to engage with residents and learn more about the town’s hidden gems. These events often showcase the best of what the town has to offer and can provide a unique perspective on the community.

Tips to find cool places in small towns

Discovering Natural Wonders

Small towns are often full of natural wonders waiting to be discovered. From scenic spots to hidden trails, there is always something new to explore. Here are some of my personal tips for finding natural gems in small towns.


5. Scenic Spots

One of the best ways to discover natural wonders is to simply ask locals for recommendations. They often know the best scenic spots that aren’t in any guidebook. These spots can range from waterfalls to scenic overlooks, and they are often free to visit.


Another way to find scenic spots is to do some research online before you visit. Websites like TripAdvisor and or this website can be great resources for finding hidden gems in small towns. You can also check out social media hashtags on Instagram or Tik-tok, like #exploresmalltowns or #hiddenwonders to see what other travelers have discovered.


6. Hidden Trails

Small towns are often surrounded by natural beauty, and there are usually plenty of hiking trails to explore. To find hidden trails, ask the locals directly or check out hiking apps like Wikiloc or Alltrails. These areas often have well-maintained trails that are perfect for beginners.


For more challenging hikes, definitely ask locals for recommendations or check out online hiking forums. These resources can help you find lesser-known trails that are off the beaten path. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and wear appropriate footwear.

Utilizing Technology

Small towns may not have as many tourists as big cities, but they still have a lot to offer. One way to find hidden gems in small towns is by utilizing technology. Here are some tips on how to use technology to your advantage.


7. Use Social Media

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can be great tools for finding hidden gems in small towns. By following local accounts and hashtags, you can discover restaurants, shops, and attractions that you may not have known about otherwise. You can also ask for recommendations from locals or other travelers who have visited the area before.


8. Download Local Apps

Many small towns, or regions/counties have their own apps that can help you find hidden gems. These apps may include information on local events, restaurants, and attractions. Some apps even have maps that show you where to find the best hiking trails, scenic views, and historic landmarks. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some effective strategies for discovering local hidden spots in small towns?

One of the most effective strategies for discovering local hidden spots in small towns is to ask locals for recommendations. Locals can provide insider knowledge about the best places to visit, eat, and explore. Another strategy is to explore on foot. Walking around a small town can lead to unexpected discoveries and hidden gems that might not be visible from a car.


How can I uncover unique attractions in lesser-known towns?

To uncover unique attractions in lesser-known towns, consider researching the town’s history and culture. Many small towns have interesting stories to tell, and their unique attractions often reflect their local heritage. Additionally, attending local events and festivals can provide a glimpse into the town’s culture and community.


What tips do locals have for finding special places in their small town?

Locals often recommend exploring off the beaten path and looking for places that are not listed in tourist guides. They also suggest visiting local shops and restaurants to get a sense of the town’s character and charm.


In what ways can I connect with small town communities to learn about their hidden gems?

Connecting with small town communities can involve attending local events, volunteering, and joining community groups. These activities can provide opportunities to meet locals and learn about their favorite hidden gems.


What online resources can help me discover the charm of small town hidden treasures?

Online resources such as travel blogs, social media groups, and review sites can provide valuable information about small town hidden treasures. Additionally, many small towns have their own websites and social media pages that highlight local attractions and events.


How do I explore small towns to find family-friendly and affordable hidden spots?

To explore small towns for family-friendly and affordable hidden spots, consider visiting local parks, museums, and historical sites. These attractions often offer affordable admission fees and can provide fun and educational experiences for the whole family. Additionally, seeking out local restaurants and shops can provide affordable and unique dining and shopping experiences.

Antonio Cala

Antonio was born and raised in Southern Spain, and quit his job in 2013 to travel the world full-time with his wife Amanda for 10 years straight. Their passion for adventure took them to visit 150+ countries.

They cycled 25,000km + from California to Patagonia, sailed over 10,000NM around the Caribbean & Sea of Cortez, rode their motorbikes 30,000 kms+ across West Africa (Spain to South Africa) and visited Antarctica, among many other adventure expeditions.

Today, they’re currently working their way to visit every state and National Park in the USA traveling with an RV.

Together they run the popular newsletter Adventure Fix, the travel community Summit, the resource-based portal Adventure Travel Hub, and their latest venture, Unique Places, where they share their knowledge about the places they’ve visited and the ones still remaining on their list.

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