When you have lived in the same town, city, or state for a while, everything kind of blends together. We tend to take for granted the cool stuff that is available to us. We get caught up in the daily grind and the craziness of day-to-day life. So we look for and pay for conveniences. This also happens on the road. Tourist traps, big cities and unknown places make it easy to sell you things and not-so-easy to uncover the local hidden gems.
What tends to go unnoticed are all of the cool low- or no-cost things that you can explore and participate in the community. Regardless of the size of the community, there are plenty of great things to take advantage of as a resident or as a visitor to the area. My three favorites places to check out are the area’s local chamber of commerce, public library, and parks & recreation department.
Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce is the heartbeat of a local community. You can find out about all things local through the organization. Many Chambers have a public local calendar on their website. While checking out the website you may also find links to partner organizations such as a downtown alliance, arts organization, or prominent local blog that you can find more experiences to check out.
The biggest benefit of the local Chamber are the people that work there. They know everything there is to know about the area. Many Chamber offices also house a city welcome center that is staffed by local community members. These are often the people who can not only tell you what are the best things to visit or activities to check out, they can also tell you about discounts, free festivals, etc. These are often volunteers who deeply love their community and are always happy to share all of the awesomeness going on with others.
Local Public Library
When was the last time you visited the public library or better yet the library website? Most of the libraries I have visited have a big bulletin board with event postings, museums, hiking information, music performances, meet-ups and much more. This will show you what is going on and what free things are on the horizon.
As is the case with the local chamber, the staff at the library are a wealth of information. Not at just finding reference material or great reads but also on the pulse of the city. They may look like quiet, unassuming people. Don’t be fooled! These knowledgeable people know all about the town and its wide array of fun things to do. The library tends to put on many events that are free of charge, they partner on local events and because they see so many people, the staff often knows what is happening.
Parks & Recreation
For those of us that like to be active, this one’s for you. The parks & recreation organizations for your local town/city and state have lots of resources, events, team sports, performances, and more. Do you enjoy being outside? Here’s where you can find everything about rail trails, hiking, cycling, water sports, boating and much more. So many of these events, areas, and activities are free or low cost. Make sure to get clarification on whether there is a fee or difference in price if you are or are not a resident of the area.
Giving parks and rec a call or stopping by to speak with the front desk is incredibly helpful. You can talk about what stuff you like to do or may like to try. Then the staff member will share recommendations that you are likely to enjoy. Explain you are looking for great activities to do on the cheap as a resident or visitor to the area. They try to make sure to have plenty of things to do that are accessible to everyone at an affordable price point.
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