Tourism is the bread and butter for many Wyoming communities. The summer travel season is particularly important, but many locals rely on visitors year-round. Looking for opportunities to support local businesses and help make a difference in the small communities that make your recreational experiences possible? Take a look at these tips.
Support destinations online & outdoors.
Leaving positive online reviews about your favorite spots is a great way to support local businesses and communities and help other travelers find them. Positive reviews on websites like TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp take little effort and can go a long way in helping to boost local businesses.
For ideas and information about destinations when planning your trip, check out Travel Wyoming’s listings page. State parks, national parks and local communities also maintain websites chock full of information useful for travel planning.
If you’re planning an outdoor adventure, guided hikes or tours can provide an enhanced experience while supporting local businesses. Local outfitters also can provide all of the necessary gear for the journey.
Stop in visitor centers.
Local visitor centers and chambers of commerce have an abundance of information about area businesses, including destinations that are off the beaten path and those offering authentic Wyoming experiences.
“I think the biggest tip I can give would be to visit the Visitor Center in each community and ask them what the best local places are to eat, shop, and more,” Scott Larson, executive director of Visit Laramie, said. “If a traveler stops into the local Visitor Center, they’ll get tips from locals on where to go and what to do that’s local and worth the visit.”
Stroll downtown streets.
A great way to support local communities and find things you won’t see online is to explore the shops in downtown areas and business corridors.
“I think just cruising downtown or Main Streets is one of the best ways to really get a feel for a place, too, and hopefully find some cool businesses and restaurants to support,” Amy Quick of the Wyoming Business Council said. “It’s also a great way to stretch your legs and take a break from the long car rides that are the norm in Wyoming when you’re trying to get from one destination to the next.”
Engage with locals.
Rebekah Burns, executive director of Powell Economic Partnership/Powell Chamber/ Powell Visitor Center, encouraged travelers to be open to changing their itinerary based on their encounters in local communities.
“It is all about the conversations and trying to get recommendations from actual people that are locals, and so that’s when people will actually get to the best places in town,” she said.
Remaining flexible and engaging in conversation will allow space to grab those unique opportunities when they arise, such as stopping into a local coffee shop or catching a performance recommended by a waitress or hotel staff member.
Book local lodging and amenities.
Booking a local bed and breakfast and eating at local restaurants can be unique alternatives to national chains. Those planning to camp can support the local economy by buying picnic materials from area grocery stores. Traveling also opens a new variety of options to shop for gifts or a new pair of shoes. Even once they leave the state, travelers can support Wyoming retailers by shopping online. Browse the Shop Wyoming directory of small businesses.
Anna Olson, president/CEO of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, urged travelers to tip generously and be mindful that many businesses are facing limited staff coupled with high demand. Avoiding peak times can help lessen frustration and long waits.
Seek out local events.
Many Wyoming communities have unique local experiences, ranging from art galleries and music venues to farmers’ markets. These events provide opportunities to support local artists, creators and entrepreneurs. Take a look at upcoming Wyoming events you could experience.
Thinking beyond the outdoor recreation and cowboy culture that Wyoming is widely known for can provide some extraordinary experiences and support local communities, whether it’s geology, Native American culture or local legends and traditions. Next time you’re in Wyoming, be sure to venture into area communities and support the local businesses that make them so special.