Ode to a small-town vacation

Well, somehow spring is gone and it’s basically summer. It’s 90 degrees outside, the strawberries are here, and it’s two weeks until graduation (because when you work in Higher Ed, you never stop judging the passing of time by the academic calendar).

So, naturally, this means I’m dreaming of summer vacation! For us this year, vacation will be long weekends spent backpacking in the mountains or floating around at the lake with a margarita in hand. No big trips for us this summer—partly because we’re working on plans for a really big trip in the near future (more on that later…), and partly because we just took a big vacation in March up to visit friends in New England.

I’ve already written about a couple parts of this trip: our adventurous Mount Cardigan hike and our day trip to Burlington, VT. But, with vacation on my mind, I wanted to share one more thing about this trip. Specifically, a small revelation it gave me—how FUN it is to vacation in a small town!!

This may sound so obvious if you’ve already figured this out, but I had never really considered seeking out a small town as a vacation destination. Especially since I moved to Hartsville. Usually, if we’re not going camping, we plan trips to cities: NYC, DC, San Francisco, Boston, etc. A vacation always seemed like our chance to check off a new “must-see” location and get the big city experience (restaurants, museums, tourist attractions) that we don’t get in our day-to-day lives.

But then we planned this trip, mainly to go see our friends. I didn’t even realize how small of a town Hanover is before we visited—it’s actually not too much larger than Hartsville. (Population 11,200 vs. Hartsville’s 7,800.) The four of us ended up spending a lot of our time discussing what it’s like to live in a small town. Sometimes it turned into a weird kind of competition. (Oh, you only have one grocery store? Well, we only have one grocery store too, and they don’t even sell naan!)

But anyway, when we weren’t discussing how many miles away the nearest Target was, we were having the BEST time hanging out in Hanover.

We strolled into adorable downtown (a five-minute walk from the apartment) to check out the local cafes and boutiques—and the J. Crew, where Erica knew the cashier, of course. Just one benefit of small-town life. 🙂

We grabbed coffee and explored Dartmouth’s beautiful campus.

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We took a short drive over to Harpoon Brewery, where we relaxed around a fire, tasted some yummy beers, and took one of the best brewery tours I’ve been on. No advance planning, waiting in long lines or tickets needed.

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…and of course, we spent as much time as possible giving all the snuggles to this sweet little face:

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All in all, it was much slower paced than our usual city trips, where we’re rushing around trying to fit in all the sights, figure out the public transportation systems, and (more often than not) battle the crowds of tourists trying to do the same. We never had to plan anything in advance, and we had so much time just to relax and enjoy catching up with friends. It was so nice for a change!

And, on our last day, New Hampshire gave us this picturesque view as a sendoff:

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There’s definitely something to be said for vacationing in a small town.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve loved all of our city excursions too—but it felt like this experience opened up a new world for me. If you’re usually a big-city vacationer, I highly recommend taking a chance on a small-town locale this summer! And if all this sounds ridiculous to you because you figured out this secret long ago, I’d love to hear where your favorite small-town vacation hideaways are. I have a feeling there will be many more trips like this in our future!

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