When you’re setting out for a camping adventure, you can find yourself overwhelmed by a surprising amount of options. Is it better to go for something in the wilderness or close to amenities? Is it important to be near a well-known destination? Could it be overrun with tourists?
While it depends on what kind of experience you are looking for, a small-town campground can be an excellent choice. If a town has an “I love my town” promotion on, and has signs or billboards promoting itself, you’re probably going to enjoy a well-cared-for campground. Watch for signs of decay on the edges of town, and a quick drive down the main drag will give you an idea of the general maintenance standards of town property. Look the town up online prior to your visit to check for notices on the official town site. A promotion for greening the town or Citizen of the Year is a good sign that the residents are invested in their town. A reminder about unsightly properties is not a deal-breaker, but should be taken as a caution. Watch for websites with broken links, poor layout, or minimal information, as the town might not be interested in its own upkeep.
A small-town campground can feel a bit odd. They often take up a regular city block and may share space with the local playground, park, or swimming pool. These details, though, can help you live like a local for the duration of your stay. It may be strange to BBQ your breakfast outdoors while just across the street people are mowing their lawns or tending their gardens, but you’re also on vacation while they’re getting ready for work.
Small-town people have a reputation for being friendly, willing to talk to strangers, and can share “insider information” about their town. It could be that they’re really just nosey and want to find out where you come from, but the result is the same: locals who will talk to you. This is perfect if you’re planning days out and want to know the best local beaches or quirky museums. Ask a local which highway is the best to take, or who sells the best coffee in town. You might even discover a local treasure like a drive-in theatre or the world’s largest roadside dinosaur!
Camping in a town offers another level of camping experience. Town campgrounds are often lovingly cared for by locals, and are likely to be pretty and have well-maintained services. The grounds may also host concerts or public gatherings, giving you the chance to join in the local activities. Campground size is often limited, adding to that small-town feel as you and the other campers become familiar with each other.
In a small-town campground, you need not worry about your meals turning out. Run out of propane for your BBQ? Burn your potatoes in the fire? You can probably order a pizza to replace your meal. Access to a grocery store means the meals you do decide to cook can have fresh ingredients and it’s not a disaster if your milk spoils. You’re never far from a gas station, and can get yourself an ice-cream fix whenever you need. Check out the town calendar of events before you go and you could get in on the annual parade, rodeo, or pancake breakfast. Look around the town first thing in the morning. Whichever restaurant is full of new guys drinking coffee is the best place to go to get your information.
The interested locals, cozy atmosphere, and one-of-a-kind amenities will make your stay in a small town one to remember. Experiencing new and exciting places isn’t limited to the big names in the big cities! If you’re looking to experience somewhere new, but also like being close to comfort sources, choose a small-town campground. The Hitch-N-Post campground in Panguitch, Utah is an excellent friendly choice for exploring the Bryce Canyon area, and Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, Canada’s Shawnee Campground provides a comfortable base for exploring the wide-open Canadian prairies, with an award-winning restaurant nearby.