Whether you’re getting ready for a Staycation, flying abroad, or hoping to explore somewhere new within your home state, traveling today comes with a lot of questions when it comes to planning responsibly. One way, however, you can work towards supporting a destination while limiting the footprint you leave on its culture and ecosystem is to support local life, ensuring that a particular destination can afford to flourish for generations to come. After all, it is mostly likely the local folks who have the most invested in keeping their home safe, financially viable, and environmentally stable. “But how do I support local life when traveling?” you might be asking. And if so, huzzah! We at The Independence are here to help answer all of your questions with our top five recommendations for supporting the local community you are visiting during your next trip.

Explore locally owned shops and restaurants to really get to know the place you are visiting! In Independence, Main St. is walking distance from the hotel and offers one-of-a-kind, charming businesses to discover. Pictured from left to right: Melting Pot Chocolates, Independent Ice Cream Shop, Gilgamesh Brewing, Ovenbird Bakery, and Jubilee champagne and dessert bar.

1.  Go Boutique!

We may be partial, but boutique hotels (whether in Independence or anywhere) give you a unique opportunity to experience the location you are visiting. Often, boutique’s present opportunities to get to know the hotel team who live in the community you’re visiting and are passionate about sharing it. There is no one better to give you recommendations on locally owned places to eat, shop, and visit. When asking, don’t shy away from being specific! Check in about woman and minority owned businesses, as well as organizations that have high eco-friendly standards. Of course, at The Independence we embrace our “boutique ethos” and with loads of local knowledge our team always has recommendations.

Boutique’s like The Independence are experience driven, for us experiences are better with your pup along!

Our “boutique ethos” includes attention to detail and working with local makers. Our Oregon shaped soap featured in our rooms is made by Oregon-based, Jumping Sheep Soaps.

2.  Partake in Experiences that Involve the Local History, Arts and Culture

Outside of shopping at local establishments, seek out local guides for tours of the area. Walking tours in particular will give a thorough, charming, and eco-friendly sense of a town, and you can also participate in upcoming events being held close by to where you’re staying. Perhaps you even choose to volunteer with local organizations. There’s nothing that says volunteering can’t be a fun and memorable part of a vacation! Take Oregon, for example, throughout the year you can find events from cycling festivals, to pride month, and countless harvest activities, which you can volunteer with and gain the bonus of a seeing the town from that local perspective.

The Independence Heritage Museum, is located just blocks from the hotel and is a real gem! With events and exhibits that share the natural history and diverse cultural heritage of the river community of Independence. Whether stopping by to explore, or attending one of their many fascinating lectures, you are sure to be thoroughly engaged.

The Eco-Earth Globe downtown Salem (about 20 min. from the hotel) is a massive tile mosaic sculpture that sits at the south end of Salem’s Riverfront Park. This colorful work of public art represents the geography, peoples and animals of Earth. It is a fun stop while exploring the area.

Walking distance from the hotel is a lovely sanctuary, the Inspiration Garden! A project of the local chapter of Master Gardeners, this series of garden areas is not only beautiful, but educates visitors about the plants and the land.

3.  Shop for Loved Ones (at locally owned establishments, of course)

Spot something that reminds you of someone? Purchase it from a local store and keep it hidden for that perfect occasion. It doesn’t need to be big. In fact, sometimes it’s the smallest items that make friends and family feel important because it’s easy yet means they were thought of.

If you’re traveling nearby, pick something tasty like purchase produce from a farmers market, handmade chocolates, or a growler of local beer.

Of course, don’t forget to buy something for yourself, too!

The Witches Vine is Independence’s Witchy Little Crystal shop, with houseplants and crystals to bring home.

Love Local in Independence!

Get rewarded for buying locally in Independence for the month of February.  Love local businesses by making a purchase at any of the participating Independence businesses and receive a scratch-it with each purchase of $5 or more! Every single scratch-it is a winner! Each scratch-it is worth $1, $5, $10, or $25 and can be used towards your next purchase of $5 or more at any of the participating business until February 28, 2023.

It’s a great way to support businesses while enjoying unique, local experiences! The Independence and Territory Restaurant are in on the fun.

Picken Chicken, downtown Indpendences has antiques and unique vintage finds!

Melting Pot Chocolates downtown Independence makes handcrafted treats perfect for sharing with friends.

4.  Consider “Slow Travel”

The term, “Slow travel,” was coined in 2000 by Pauline Kelly (founder of slowtrav.com) and it was based on the idea of slowing down when you go on vacation so you can take your time really getting to know a place. There are countless eco-friendly benefits to this idea, but this approach to vacationing also allows you see a destination beyond the top attractions that pop up when you complete a Google search. Give yourself a few extra days somewhere, even if that means you don’t travel to as many places per trip. Let the places you do go really count.

Between covered bridges, dense forests, gardens, and wineries, there are no shortage of options to help you slowdown and appreciate the landscape.

5.  Don’t be Social Media Shy!

As a traveler, you can support a local community long after your trip completes. With social media at our fingertips, give generous shout outs to those you found helpful and welcoming, or to the places that served your top meals. Post pictures of your favorite views from your hotel, or the colorful displays of fresh produce at a local farmers market. Tag and hashtag away, showcasing your destination at sunset or the crowds that gather at local events, and in the process give your followers and friends the awareness and opportunity to visit and do the same.

Have any questions about supporting local life during your next trip to Oregon Wine Country? We at The Independence are happy to share our love for this region with our many local recommendations, itineraries, and upcoming events!