I’ve Visited 7 of the Most Bizarre Small Towns in America…And They’re a Best Kept Secret!

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Bizzare Small Towns

Our country is blessed with many options when it comes to vacation getaways. I’ve been lucky enough to visit many attractions, including museums, monuments, picture-perfect forests, and everything in between that makes America so great.

But today, I wanna talk about some of the lesser-known destinations…hidden small towns. More specifically, the odd little forgotten village or town you wouldn’t usually think to visit.

I’ve come across quite a few of the most bizarre places and sites you could think of on my travels, and I decided it was time to make a list of them and share it with our readers. You won’t believe that many of these places exist, let alone in our own country.

So check ’em out and let me know what you think!

small town
Photo by Larry Porges at Shutterstock

Whittier, Alaska

We were visiting Anchorage (one of my husband’s picks). While this is a beautiful city, I, for one, can’t stand the cold, but to each his own.

As always, I looked online for things to see and do, and I came upon a small town that is apparently so small that all of its locals live in 1 building!

So, being curious, I wanted to stop and see what a town like this looks like. First off, what amazed me was the panoramic views. It seems like you’re huddled and protected in between the glaciers and mountains.

We ended up taking a day cruise in Prince William Sound to see whales, sea otters, and seals sitting on ice chunks that come from the glaciers.

And we, of course, also had to take a hike to explore Alaska’s wilderness. As far as the town itself, we filled our day visiting the local monuments, including the 1943 WWII Railroad Commemorative Monument and the Whittier 1964 Earthquake Monument.

But for the main reason that brought us to Whittier: A 14-story Begich Towers is home to 214 people. It was considered army barracks initially, but the tower grew and included a police station, a post office, store, church, playground, bed and breakfast, and health center.

All in all, this small town’s a cozy nook if there ever was one.

Hell, Michigan

Yup, you read that right! I was on my way to Ann Arbour and looking at the map, the name “Hell” popped up! My curiosity got the best of me, and we took a slight detour to see what we’d find.

So the backstory is that sometime in the 1840s, one of the small town’s founders was asked what he wanted to name the area. He replied, “You can name it Hell for all I care.”

And well, this small town was called just that! It seems the locals decided to make use of the name because it looks like the entire town is “Hell” themed.

In this old milling town, we found a Devil Church, wedding chapel included, had lunch at Hell Hole, got a gravedigger sundae at Screams, and walked around exploring.

After an afternoon of bad puns and “sinful” fun, we discovered that some of Michigan’s nicest people live in Hell. And when you leave, you’re greeted with a: “See you in Hell!” But they mean it in the nicest possible way.

Fun Fact: You can buy a plot in Hell at the local cemetery. And Hell even has a fake university called Damnation University…Dam U for short!

Slab City, California

You probably know of this small town if you’ve ever seen “Into The Wild” with Emile Hirsch. It’s known as “The Last Free City In America,” but to be honest, this was one of our more disappointing stops.

Slab city, also known as The Slabs, is supposed to be a sort of peaceful location full of hippies and artists where you can go and get inspired. And for all I know, it probably was at some point. The Salvation Mountain is as it looks on TV.

And there was a guy hanging around there painting and talking to people, but the actual “town” is not how it is depicted. There were many gaps between people’s living areas, lots of rubbish, and some burnt-out units, and there was nothing “welcoming” about it.

I’m not saying people were unfriendly, but I had read about there being a lot of little shops and industry from the locals to bring money into the community, and this wasn’t what I found.

If I’m in the area again in the future, I may pop in to see if anything’s changed, but I wouldn’t plan a trip around it.

small town
Photo by Grossinger at Shutterstock

Casey, Illinois

This one’s a local secret you probably haven’t heard of. My parents actually discovered it when I was younger, and I remember it was a fun weekend getaway. At the time, I remember the highlight of my trip being the outdoor pool our hotel had.

But looking back, I think little trips like this with my family are what started my love for travel and discovering fun new things. This quirky little small town stands out due to the many insanely large objects that decorate it.

You’ll find a pencil that stands at 32 feet, for example, and a rocking chair at approximately 56 feet tall.

There are many other impressive objects but what’s most amazing is that there are at least eight items that have been officially certified by Guinness as the world’s largest of their kind.

A perfect place to start your tour of the small town’s “Big Things” is with the Rocking Chair that’s located at the east end of Casey’s Main Street attractions, conveniently located by a free public parking lot.

The street corner base around the Chair is beautifully landscaped with large rocks & rock gardens & colorful flowers, all well maintained. You can see the Rocking Chair from many spots around this small town, even from the World’s Largest Mailbox, located three blocks west.

Santa Claus, Arizona

A while back, my husband and I took a road trip along Route 66, and this was one of the more bizarre stops we made. Not to be confused with the small town in Indiana (which, by the way, is GORGEOUS during Christmas), this is an abandoned Arizona ghost town.

As you can guess by the name, this entire small town is Christmas-themed.

We found out that it used to be a hopping tourist destination where parents would take their kids for all things “Santa,” including a north pole post office where kiddos could receive mail from Ole’ Saint Nick himself!

But being right along Route 66, its downfall came when people stopped traveling on this famous road. The small town itself pretty much shut down sometime in the 70s, so it’s nothing but a ghost town today.

Again, this wouldn’t be a destination you would plan around. But if you’re ever wandering the area, it’s worth making a stop and checking it out…unless you have a fear of snakes because, unfortunately, the only inhabitants left in the area are rattlesnakes!

Ferndale, California

On a “less sad” note, I’ve got a small town for you that will take you back in time! It’s an entire town full of Victorian-era architecture…and when I say full, I mean FULL!

All the buildings, homes, business, even the cemetery makes you feel like you should don a corset, grab a basket, and head over to the mercantile for the week’s provisions!

The location is kind of on the northern tip of California, so you probably wouldn’t think to visit. But we stumbled upon it on our way from Sacramento to Portland, and boy am I glad we did. The picturesque area ended up delighting us so much we stayed a few days to explore.

We took a drive on the Lost Coast, where we made a few stops along the curvy road, taking in the beach and the views…and also where we found a cow in the middle of the road!

We stayed the night because, as I said, we wanted to explore a bit more the next day, and we chose the most Victorian-looking hotel we could find out of sheer curiosity.

It ended up being the Gingerbread Mansion, which is actually a bed and breakfast, and we were not disappointed by the inside. I felt like Queen Victoria herself surrounded by the decor!

The next day, we got up, had a fantastic breakfast, and headed out to see what this small town had to offer.

While there were numerous things, we saw, ill just give you the highlights. The cemetery isn’t something you would pick as a tourist attraction, but it dates back to the mid-1800, and we couldn’t resist taking a walk and reading all the interesting writings on the tombs.

The Golden Gait Mercantile didn’t disappoint either. There was a massive collection of vintage items and an incredible selection of gifts, kitchen items, and fancy foods. We even found a Blacksmith Shop with some of the most interesting pieces of decor I’ve ever seen.

My husband bought me one of the most unique necklaces here. So to sum up, I could talk about this small town all day. It’s definitely one of my favorite destinations. But you should just plan a getaway and see it for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it!

small town
Photo by Sudha G at Shutterstock

Roswell, New Mexico

The last “Bizarre” small town I wish to talk about is one I’m sure you’ve heard of. But because of watching too much TV growing up, it’s been on my bucket list for quite some time.

I wanted to know if it was just one of those fake tourist attractions or if this small town had something else to offer.

So as you’ve heard, in 1947, residents of Roswell saw what looked like a UFO crashing. Our country’s military said it was a weather balloon, but many weren’t convinced.

Well, even though the stories of everything being “Alien Branded” are accurate, there’s something the movies and shows don’t mention.

We checked out the Historical Center of Southeast New Mexico. It’s a place filled with the area’s antiques, artifacts, and a gallery of interesting historical exhibits. But we also spent some time bird watching and even went fishing at the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

Bottomless Lakes State Park wasn’t too shabby either. We rented a boat to explore and cooled off with a dip in the beautiful water. All in all, I’d say: go for the aliens, but stay for the views!

So, let me know what you thought about my wandering adventures in these bizarre small towns. But if the quirky towns aren’t your cup of tea, check out: My Life As A Nomadic Wanderer: 7 Incredible Things I’ve Seen

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