We often celebrate the grandeur of metropolises; it’s easy to overlook the charm and charisma hidden in the heart of small towns across America. These tiny gems, each with its own unique personality, have a way of drawing you in, making you feel like you’ve stumbled upon a well-kept secret. From UFO-themed diners to significant historical landmarks, these twelve tiny towns offer experiences that will leave a lasting impression.
1. Santa Claus, Indiana- The North Pole of the Midwest
Santa Claus, Indiana, isn’t just a name; it’s a way of life. This town embraced its magical moniker with open arms, featuring a 20-foot Santa statue, streets named Christmas Boulevard and Kringle Place, an amusement park called Holiday World, and a dedicated team that responds to thousands of letters addressed to Father Christmas each year. It’s the perfect destination for a family vacation, with family-oriented fun and great value for your money.
2. Roswell, New Mexico- Where Aliens and Art Collide
Since the infamous 1947 UFO incident, Roswell has become synonymous with extraterrestrial intrigue. The International UFO Museum, conspiracy-fueled tours, and countless alien-themed souvenirs keep the alien obsession alive. But Roswell has more than just aliens; it’s also a haven for artists!
3. Mount Airy, North Carolina- Mayberry Come to Life
Mount Airy, the inspiration for the town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show, is a slice of American nostalgia. Take a tour in squad cars identical to Andy and Barney’s, savor pork chop sandwiches at Snappy Lunch, and even get a trim at Floyd’s Barber Shop.
4. Scottsboro, Alabama- The Lost Luggage Capital
Scottsboro, Alabama, is home to an unusual claim to fame: “The Lost Luggage Capital of the World.” The Unclaimed Baggage Center houses lost suitcase contents, from snow skis and guitars to engagement rings and suits of armor. Some of the craziest finds include a 5.8-carat solitaire diamond ring and ancient Egyptian artifacts. It’s a treasure hunter’s dream.
5. Casey, Illinois- Where Everything’s Bigger
In Casey, Illinois, bigger is better. It is home to twelve of the world’s largest things, including a golf tee, rocking chair, and wind chime. You’ll even come across gigantic everyday items like a 3,500-pound taco and 3.75-foot-long knitting needles. Prepare to be amazed by the town’s oversized charm.
6. San Luis Obispo, California- Bubblegum Alley
San Luis Obispo’s Bubblegum Alley is a chewed-up wonderland that’s equal parts art and gross. This 15-foot-high and 70-foot-long gummy mural is the world’s most extensive collection of used bubblegum. It’s a unique stroll you won’t find anywhere else!
7. Homosassa, Florida- Monkey Island
In Homosassa, Florida, monkey business takes on a whole new meaning. When research on the polio vaccine led to spider and squirrel monkeys’ arrival, they became a public disturbance. So, they were placed on a makeshift island just off the shore. Now it’s a beloved attraction where you can observe these playful creatures in their little paradise.
8. Williamstown, Kentucky- The Ark Encounter
Noah’s Ark isn’t in the Bible; it’s in Kentucky! Well, not the real one, but a full-sized replica at the Ark Encounter, which is part museum, part family fun destination. Experience this biblical tale brought to life impressively and educationally.
9. Fall River, Massachusetts- Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast
Sleep beside ghosts at the Fall River, Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast. This quaint B&B was once the site of gruesome ax murders, but today, it welcomes guests seeking an eerie experience. Who knows what you might encounter in the dead of night?
10. Seward, Nebraska- World’s Largest Time Capsule
Harold Davisson’s love for the year 1975 led to the creation of the world’s largest time capsule in Seward, Nebraska. Housing over 5,000 objects, including a car from that year, this 45-ton vault is topped with a pyramid, making it a record-breaking spectacle. It’s a trip through time that’s both entertaining and educational.
11. Albany, Indiana- The Shoe Tree Tradition
In Albany, Indiana, they don’t let something special pass them by, even if it’s a little strange. The “Shoe Tree” started as a quirky tradition for local teenagers but grew to be embraced by the entire community. Hundreds of old shoes are tied together and hang from this communal point of pride. It’s a testament to the town’s unique spirit.
12. Waterbury, Vermont- The Flavor Graveyard
Everybody loves Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but only some flavors survive. In Waterbury, Vermont, you can visit the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, where discontinued ice cream flavors rest in peace. It’s a sweet and quirky spot for paying your respects to the flavors that didn’t make the cut.
Best Gas Stations in America Worth Stopping For
Gas stations are typically nothing more than mere pit stops during long journeys, serving the functional purpose of refueling vehicles. However, there are some exceptional gas stations across America that go beyond the ordinary, offering unique experiences and amenities that make them destinations in their own right!
Best Cities to Vacation in That Don’t Require Renting a Car
When planning a vacation, there’s enough to worry about without stressing over renting a car, where to park it, and whether you can afford the extra insurance. What if you simply choose a location designed for people without cars and skip the rental car altogether? You could plan on walking, rent an e-Bike, or Uber when the occasion calls for it. It will still be cheaper than renting a car. Here are some of the absolute best cities for vacationing without getting behind the wheel.
Step Into the Past: 10 American Ghost Towns to Explore
America may not have a history as old as other countries, but we do have our share of ghost towns. Around 3,800 of them, according to a recent report by the New York Times. From the largest ghost town in Jerome, Arizona, to quirky ghost towns like Calico, California, here are ten of the most well-known in America.
14 Cities That Must Have Been Named on a Dare
Ever come across a town named Odd or considered a vacation to a place called Why? Fancy a leisurely stroll in Dull or perhaps a detour to Nowhere? As surprising as it may sound, these towns actually exist, and their peculiar names are sure to amuse… or perplex. If you’re a fan of humorous quirks and obscure trivia, then you’ll definitely be entertained by some of the globe’s most eccentrically named locations.
Featured Image Credit: DavideAngelini/Shutterstock
Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.