Learn About Your Local History and Culture

Nearly every locality has its own “local flavor.” Indeed, most areas have a rich history and culture. When you live in the East of the United States, you can enjoy the Colonial history. Throughout the West, you can learn about cowboy culture and settlers. And, of course, no matter where you are in the United States, there are opportunities to learn about Native American culture. Every area has its own historical and cultural nuances; you might be surprised at what you can find in your own backyard.

Enjoying Local History and Culture

While it can be fun and interesting to travel to a different part of a region or a new part of the country to experience history, the truth is that you do not need to go so far. You can have a staycation right in your own hometown (or within a couple hundred miles) and learn the interesting historical roots of your own community. Here are some places you can start to begin learning about what historic and cultural sites your hometown has:

  • Chamber of Commerce: Your local Chamber of Commerce, in addition to directing you to local businesses, may also have information on what sort of “touristy” things are available locally. You might be surprised at the points of interest you never really considered.
  • Visitor’s Bureau: Many cities have visitor’s bureaus. A visitor’s bureau might be operated through the city government, or it might be handled through the Chamber of Commerce. In either case, look for a visitor’s bureau or an Office of Tourism.
  • Local Historical Society: Many towns have historical societies or clubs. You can locate your town’s own historical society and get information on the history and cultural background of your locality. You can also look for re-enactment societies, and groups like the Sons of the American Revolution or the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. These groups often have a wealth of knowledge about historic places and insights into local culture.
  • Local Library: Your local library is a great place to start your researches into local culture and history. You can learn about indigenous peoples, early settlers, and the make-up of your town. Many libraries have local history collections that are well worth exploring.
  • Local Museum: If your town has a local museum, you might start there. My parents live in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the local Museum of Idaho features traveling exhibits. But it also has a more permanent collection of local artifacts from the early days of the town’s founding.

Once you have learned a little bit about your locality’s cultural heritage, it is possible to visit some of the sites that might be nearby. Many towns have historic buildings that can be toured, or sites to visit. When I lived in Southern Utah, I was within easy distance of petroglyphs, cave paintings and other interesting places. It is also possible to visit places like Colonial Williamsburg or visit replicas of frontier forts. There are a number of opportunities available in your own hometown if you take the time to research your local history — and visit the sites that can make it a little more real.

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