It’s the start of both a new year and a new decade, and many people are thinking over those resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to travel more, but you’re feeling constrained by your budget, we may have an answer for you – one that’s closer to home than you might think.
Why Rural America?
The reasons for traveling to rural America are as varied as the reasons for traveling. Around 97 percent of the land in the United States is in rural counties, and those areas are home to around 60 million people. But in those small towns, you’ll find a very different way of life than what you’re used to in the city – even if you only have to drive an hour or two to get there.
A Real Getaway
Traveling to the country can feel like taking a step back. It’s a break from the faster pace of life in the city. If you’re looking to “get away from it all,” an escape to the country might just be perfect. Though it may only take an hour or two to get to where you’re going, it can feel like a whole different world.
Want to spend some time on a secluded beach? The U.S. is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and in many cases you don’t have to take a trip to the ocean to find them.
The U.S. is home to more than 250 freshwater lakes. Many of these are fantastic places to fish, swim, and enjoy a quiet day at the beach. Take for example, the Caribbean-esque waters of Secret Cove, on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe (above). Or, if you’re looking for more of a resort-style experience, you might want to travel to Lake Barkley State Resort Park in the small town of Cadiz, Kentucky (below).
Many people tend to think of small, rural towns as boring backwaters with very little to see and do. But we’d urge you to take a closer look. Many U.S. rural towns are home to pockets of culture – and we’re not just talking about the old Civil War battlefields and plantations of the Deep South. Take, for example the Or-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi.
A Gulf Coast beach town is probably the last place you’d expect to find an avant-garde museum. Yet nestled among live oaks, you’ll find this treasure created by architect Frank Gehry and dedicated to 19th-century ceramicist George Ohr. In addition, you’ll see galleries of African American art and ceramics, as well as plenty of information on Gulf Coast history.
You might also take a trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. There, curator Alice Walton gathered up works by Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent, and more. Nestled in the middle of the Ozarks, Israeli-American architect Moshe Safdie created this museum that connects the art with the beautiful landscape surrounding it.
Experience A Different Way of Life and Culture
Many people travel so that they can get a taste of life lived in a different way than what they’re used to. Travel just a few hours outside of any city, and you’ll likely find numerous farms, ranches, orchards and more that will offer exactly that experience.
And if you’re looking to experience a different culture, the rural U.S. can often offer that, as well. For example, in Louisiana’s rural Cajun Country you can experience all of the delights of life lived more simply. Immerse yourself in the culture and music of the French Cajuns on a Saturday morning at Fred’s Lounge. Or, for a truly unique experience, head down for Courir de Mardi Gras – far different from the crowded parades and revelry happening just three hours away in New Orleans.
Everything You’ve Been Looking For
When it comes to a travel experience, the rural U.S. can offer you everything you’ve been looking for. As an added bonus, in many cases, you can find these experiences in less than a day’s drive from where you already live – perfect for people who are looking to travel on a budget. As an added bonus, staying at small local hotels and resorts, not to mention shopping in small local businesses, helps to boost the local economies of these towns, ensuring their survival.