The Most Unusual Town in Every State
America has some unusual and interesting history, if you know where to look.
We’re all familiar with the major historical hotspots like Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon, but there is plenty of smaller, and just as fascinating, history to be found from coast to coast.
Today, we’re taking a look at the most unusual towns in every state. These places hold stories, traditions, and monuments that are sometimes a little off the beaten path--not many of these places are at the top of vacation bucket lists. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth a visit! They all contribute, in their own small way, to the long, sometimes bizarre story of the United States.
Scottsboro is unofficially the land of lost luggage. When luggage goes unclaimed at an American airport, it’s sent here to the Unclaimed Baggage Center. But these forgotten bags are only passing through town--they’re sold at auction to anyone brave enough to buy one without seeing what's in them.
Whittier is the town that’s all under one roof. The 214 residents of this small Alaskan outpost almost all live in the same high rise building. And they’ve got no reason to leave, either--the building also houses essential businesses, like a post office and school.
Tombstone is a literal ghost town, if you conveniently ignore the hundreds of thousands of tourists that flock here annually. This Gold Rush-era village looks like it was frozen in time--it’s complete with plenty of old-timey buildings to live out your cowboy fantasies.
Alma is a town that knows the importance of eating your vegetables. At one point, it was home to the Allen Caning Company, which produced a majority of the world’s spinach. In honor of this achievement, the town erected a statue of Popeye--the best spokesman spinach ever had.
Slab City, California
Slab City is a city in name only--it has no running water, no sewage, and no electricity. But this off-the-grid feel is largely what draws people to this place built on the concrete slabs of an abandoned military barrack. Residents come from a wide variety of backgrounds--including retirees in the winter, those down on their luck, and folks who just want to be left alone by the modern world.
Crestone is a place where you can let your inner hippie run free. This small Colorado town holds the distinction of having the most spiritual centers per capita in America--so hopefully you’ll find some inner peace between the drum circles and patchouli.
Dudleytown is an interesting town precisely because it’s not--the population mysteriously dwindled until there was not a single soul left. While it’s technically illegal to visit the area where Dudleytown once stood, it’s considered on the most haunted places in America.
New Castle, Delaware
Break out your powdered wig, we’re headed to New Castle, Delaware. This largely unknown town is full of colonial flair--from cobblestone streets to folks in their best old-timey outfits.
The Villages, Florida
The first strange thing you notice about The Villages is that it’s not your normal town--it’s actually a massive retirement community home to over 70,000 senior citizens. The next strange thing you notice is that STD rates in The Villages are some of the highest in Florida. Looks like these retirees have found a fun way to enjoy their twilight years...
People may associate Georgia with peaches, but its real cash crop is peanuts. If you’re into silly tourist traps, head on down to Ashburn, where you can see the world’s largest peanut statue--a paean to Georgia’s most humble (but profitable) export.
Hedge mazes are already pretty strange if you think about them enough. Who could have thought something up like that? However, the maze you can find at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa takes things a step further--you’re not just navigating a hedge maze, you’re navigating a hedge maze shaped like a pineapple.
There’s not much to do in Preston, Idaho these days, but in the early 2000s, it was a spiritual pilgrimage for fans of the movie Napoleon Dynamite, which was filmed here.
Every small town worth its salt will have some sort of “world’s largest” tourist attraction. In the case of Collinsville, Illinois, it’s the world’s largest ketchup bottle. And don’t forget to stick around for the annual ketchup festival every summer!
Santa Claus, Indiana
Naming your town after Santa Claus is one way to get on the nice list! When the town was established, it first went by Santa Fe, but since there was already a town in Indiana with that name, they changed it to Santa Claus. As you would expect, there is plenty of Christmas-themed fun to be had here all year round.
Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa
If you’re looking for transcendental bliss, maybe pop by Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa. This city, designed in the 90s, was meant to promote peace and happiness among residents by adhering to allegedly ancient architecture and design processes. In 2005, they became the first all-organic city by banning the use of unnatural pesticides and fertilizers within city limits.
Cawker City, Kansas
There’s nothing practical or useful about the world’s largest ball of twine, but things don’t have to make sense when you’re breaking a record. If you ever happen to pass through Cawker, Kansas (for whatever strange reason), don’t forget to visit their twine ball. It’s literally the only thing worth stopping for here.
Whether you find truth in the story of Noah’s Ark or not, you can experience the whole spectacle for yourself at The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. Housed in a “replica” of Noah’s Ark, this theme park is heavy on creationism, so don’t go prepared to learn anything.
If True Blood is accurate, then Louisiana is teeming with vampires. And I have a sneaking suspicion of where they all like to hang out--Transylvania. But not the one home to Dracula, the one hiding in the Bayou State. This is definitely a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it small town, so keep your eyes peeled (and your garlic, too).
Maine may be a chilly, coastal state, but you can find the desert if you look hard enough! The “Desert of Maine” just outside Freeport isn’t a desert in the technical sense, but it is a patch of land covered in sand left over from and Ice Age glacier.
Baltimore has a rich history all its own, but for fans of horror, it’s a must-see place because it was home to author Edgar Allan Poe. His house now serves as a museum for visitors looking to learn a little more about America’s spookiest author.
Fall River, Massachusetts
For fans of true crime, Fall River is a bucket list item. In this small Massachusetts town, notorious murderer Lizzie Borden killed her parents in 1892. These days, the site of these gruesome deaths is now a bed and breakfast, and to no one’s surprise, it’s also allegedly teeming with paranormal activity.
We’ll be honest, the only thing that Hell, Michigan really has going for it is its name. While in many ways it’s just your average small town, residents have really gone all-in on the Satanic theme--including the Hell Hole Diner and the Hell Chapel of Love for devilish lovebirds.
Kensington has been a quiet, small town for some time, but in the 1800s it was the site of a major archeological discovery...maybe. In 1898, a stone tablet was discovered with a rune inscription that was allegedly a record of 14th-century Scandanavian explorers. While it’s authenticity has been debated since the discovery, true or false, it put Kensington on the map.
Over the centuries, there have been plenty of stories of people selling their soul to the devil for fame, money, or talent. But those are all fiction, right? Well, maybe not. There is a crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi where blues legend Robert Johnson allegedly did the deed. Whether that story is true or not, there’s now a guitar statue where the supposed transaction took place.
There’s nary a place that’s more all-American than Hannibal, Missouri. It was home to iconic author Mark Twain, and his boyhood home has been converted into a museum for fans to learn more about this important American writer.
When you hear “Montana” who else thinks of Buddhism? No one? I guess that’s to be expected--but the connection is there! Arlee is home to a Buddhist monastery that features a beautiful garden featuring 1000 statues of the Buddha. It’s a truly serene place to visit for folks looking to get away from it all.
Monowi, Nebraska is a small town if there ever was one--it currently has a population of one. Sole resident, Elsie Eiler, keeps things running herself, including paying taxes, operating the library, and acting as mayor.
You’ll have to put in a hard day’s work in Tonopah, but you might just be handsomely rewarded for your effort. This town is home to a turquoise mine where members of the public can hunt for this bright, beautiful mineral themselves.
Gorham, New Hampshire
In Gorham, New Hampshire, the moose are in charge. That might be an exaggeration, but it’s no exaggeration to say this town is the perfect place for fans of our goofy-looking antlered friends--they are in no short supply here.
Hopewell, New Jersey
Hopewell might not be high on the minds of people today, but in the 30s, it was all over the news. This small New Jersey town was the site of the infamous “Lindbergh Baby” kidnapping and murder. Today, not much of this horrific crime remains--the Lindbergh house is now a juvenile treatment center.
Roswell, New Mexico
If the truth is out there, you’re likely to find it in Roswell. While it may look like a normal, New Mexico town these days, it was the site of an alleged UFO crash in the 40s. Whether or not that is true, Roswell’s reputation as an alien hotspot has been great for tourism ever since.
Lily Dale, New York
If you thought gated communities were obnoxious, just wait until you see a gated community full of psychics. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in Lily Dale, New York. This spiritual hotspot has managed to attract all manner of psychics, seers, and other “visionaries.”
Rose Hill, North Carolina
Many of the “world’s largest” tourist traps are completely useless, but that’s not the case with the world’s largest frying pan in Rose Hill, North Carolina! In fact, it’s used every year at the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee to fry up hundreds of chickens at a time for hungry visitors.
Center, North Dakota
As the name implies, Center, North Dakota is, well, the center of the North American continent. Strangely enough, the monument that marks this spot incorrectly says that Rugby, North Dakota is the center.
Stonehenge is overrated. Save your money and visit Cornhenge in Dublin, Ohio instead! This strange monument is actually kind of touching--it was designed in honor of Sam Frantz, who created multiple species of hybrid corn. A fitting tribute, if there ever were one.
Mister Ed was a TV show from the 60s about a talking horse and his owner, Wilbur. This unlikely duo entertained families across America, and it’s believed that its four-legged star is buried in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. However, there is some controversy about this location. Some believe the original Mr. Ed (played by Bamboo the horse) is buried here, while other say that his replacement, Pumpkin, is the one interred in Tahlequah.
The attack on Pearl Harbor may have marked America’s entry into World War II, but it wasn’t the only attack on American soil. In 1945, six residents of Lakeview, Oregon were killed when they happened upon a Japanese military balloon that contained an active bomb within.
Even if you wanted to live in Centralia, you’d be out of luck. The town’s population has dwindled to a measly 10 residents, and no new ones are allowed to move in, thanks to a coal fire that has burned underneath the town since 1962.
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is full of iconic, classic architecture, but the Fleur-de-Lys studios stands above all the rest. This unusual looking building is not just nice to look at either, it’s also a hotspot for fans of arts and crafts.
Gaffney, South Carolina
Another in a long list of giant things, the “peachoid” of Gaffney, South Carolina has been drawing in curious onlookers for years. It even factored into the plot of the Netflix series House of Cards.
Clark, South Dakota
Mud wrestling is so passe--mashed potato wrestling is the next big thing! Or it is, if you ask the residents of Clark, South Dakota, where this is an annual event. Done to commemorate Potato Day, mashed potato wrestling has become a beloved tradition, despite how weird it sounds.
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Oak Ridge, Tennessee is colloquially known as the Atomic City because it served as a production site for the Manhattan Project--which led do the development of the atomic bomb.
Forget Roswell or Area 51, because Marfa is another must-see spot for alien enthusiasts. It’s home to the mysterious “Marfa lights”, which sometimes appear at night in the deserts surrounding the town. Scientists believe that these lights are reflections of car lights, but that hasn’t stopped all sorts of wild speculation about UFOs and other paranormal activity.
Hildale, Utah is home to a large number of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They’re the Mormons that practice polygamy, so it’s a pretty strange place to be. They’re also not keen on outsiders, so this might be somewhere to avoid.
Waterbury is home of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, so be sure to stop in for a tour if you’re ever there. And you definitely don’t want to miss their flavor graveyard--it’s the place where they commemorate their ice cream flavors that were phased out of production.
If you’re a fan of linguistics, Tangier is the place for you. This small island town in the Chesapeake Bay is home to an interesting accent described as a mix of American and British. In fact, some say this unique accent was probably how the Founding Fathers spoke.
Seattle has a little something for everyone. You’ve got the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, you’ve got the birthplace of grunge, and you’ve got the Museum of Pop Culture for folks who don’t get enough of that in their everyday lives.
Philippi, West Virginia
Egypt isn’t the only place where mummies can be found--they’re also waiting to be seen in Philippi, West Virginia at the Barbour County Historical Museum.
New Glarus, Wisconsin
Save money on an international trip to Switzerland and just visiting New Glarus instead! This unusual village is home to lots of Swiss style architecture and was founded by immigrants from Switzerland in 1845.
Only in America could someone buy and sell a town, and that’s exactly what happened with PhinDeli, Wyoming (formerly Buford). When the town dwindled to just one family, they sold it to a Vietnamese coffee company for $900,000. The company decided to rename the town in their likeness, PhinDeli. Sounds more like an American nightmare than the American dream.