If you're anything like me, your summers are often filled with watching the Food Network and staring at the food on the TV screen while trying not to get hungry. My personal favorite has always been Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Those places that were visited always fascinated me. Luckily for me, I live in a small town where lots of these types of restaurants exist.

My whole life, I've spent my time in various small towns. From Middleburg, VA, to Mercersburg, PA, and now finally, Geneva, NY, I've spent my life telling people where I go to school and being met with confused questions of "Where's that?" and "So what's that near?" and responding with answers such as "Oh, you know, South PA" or "About 45 minutes away from Rochester?"

Even though you can't find much around these towns, within them is a community that survives off knowing one another like family, sharing stories and trading laughs, and surrounding themselves with the food that's been around for ages. You learn something about community and family just from being within a small town and meeting everyone else. 

1. Find Your Place, Find Your Thing

"Small town" really does mean small. Though there's not the abundance of restaurants and cafes that you would find in a city such as D.C. or NYC, the unique stops offer something special. For me, the great thing about a small town being able to rely on a quality meal that you know you've enjoyed in the past and will enjoy again. Your "thing" becomes a place you'll stop at time and time again. 

2. Small Places Mean Local Faces

beer, tea, wine, coffee
Lexi Nickens

No matter where I go on any day of the week, living in a small town means that I see someone I know almost everywhere I go. Whether it's the owner of the popcorn shop up the road from my house, the waitress at the local coffee shop that I went to middle school with or even old teachers sitting next to me in restaurants, food becomes a way to reconnect and meet with old friends.

3. Everyone Has Their Favorite

pork, vegetable, bread, meat, beef
Laura Bohannon

"The sandwich shop down the street?" "Oh yes, I'll have a Philly cheesesteak with provolone, thank you." When you live in a small town, you find your favorites quickly. Maybe you narrow it down to a restaurant and try various things there, or you narrow it down to one thing at each location or divide and conquer: find your coffee here, your sandwich there, your salad down the street. There's always something to be found and be enjoyed.

4. Establishments Establish the Town

tea, pizza, beer, coffee
Madi Johnson

There's a deli right on the main street of my hometown, Middleburg, that changed its name to The Middleburg Deli. But for my whole life, it's been called Dank's Deli, and I can't break the habit. The best part of small towns is that everyone knows these places, and change does not come around often. Sometimes culinary change is good, but often the old stuff is the best stuff.

5. Food is Community Driven

There's nothing better than small, local places that start and stay in your town. Whether it's the Uppercrust Bakery in Middleburg where I went every Friday after school, or the tiny and unique Red Dove Tavern in Geneva, or the best brunch in Mercersburg at Flannery's Tavern, these places have been run by locals for ages and support the community, welcome everyone, and serve local food that their neighbors provide them with.

6. Food is Family

There's no better way to reunite with someone than over a glass of wine and dinner. The places in a small town promise a warm environment with familiar faces, and a place to come back to you when you come home from school. There's no chains in my town, simply small restaurants with a homey vibe, and food that brings people back together again. Find local places near you with this new app.