Helen, Georgia, USA Cityscape
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25 Quirky Small Towns Across America

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Helen, Georgia, USA Cityscape
SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

Towns With a Twist

Many small towns have a certain undeniable charm, where it's because they're a perfect slice of Americana, are surrounded by incredible scenery, or have a thriving Main Street. Other tiny towns, however, are notable for their quirk factor, which is a little harder to define. Here are 25 towns across the country that are notable for something that makes them not like the others, whether that's something specific — like a mayoral cat or an unexpected number of town psychics — to places that just have a very specific and wholly eclectic vibe.


Related: Tiny Travelogue: 50 Charming Small Towns Across America

Cassadaga, Florida
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Cassadaga, Florida

This tiny town north of Orlando is the unofficial "Psychic Capital of the World." The local Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, founded in 1894, lists more than 40 mediums and healers that guests can book for a 30-minute spiritual healing session. Other businesses outside of the camp offer an even larger array of mystical services. For instance, hop into a crystal healing bed at the Cassadaga Psychic Shop, get a tarot or oracle card reading, or even use a Ouija board with "psychic witch" Raven Star to help answer your most pressing otherworldly questions.

Historic Railroad Station, Yellow Springs, Ohio
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Yellow Springs, Ohio

Often called a hippie enclave, this town of nearly 4,000 in southwest Ohio is colorful both literally and metaphorically. Founded in 1825 by families who ascribed to the utopian socialist teachings of Welshman Robert Owen, the town is known for its thriving art community and its open-mindedness. In 1979, for example, Yellow Springs was the smallest community in the U.S. at the time to pass legislation that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Today, visitors can find plenty to do, from outdoor recreation and locally owned boutiques and restaurants to the occasional show by one of the town's more famous residents, comedian Dave Chappelle.


Related: 22 Small Towns with Vibrant Art Scenes

Solvang - danish city in California
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Solvang, California

If you've always wanted to visit Denmark but lack the budget or passport, here's a hint: Check out the next best thing by trekking to Solvang, a town just up the Pacific coast from Santa Barbara. Dubbed "the Danish Capital of America," this town — replete with windmills, Danish architecture, and even a horse-drawn streetcar — will make you feel as though you've stepped outside of America for a time. Visit the town during one of its renowned festivals, which include Solvang Julefest, Solvang Grape Stomp, and Solvang Danish Days, or just stop in to eat at one of its Danish-inspired eateries, shop at the local boutiques, and tour the surrounding wine country.


Related: 18 Places to 'Travel Abroad' Without Leaving the Country

Leavenworth, Washington
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Leavenworth, Washington

Solvang, California, isn't the only U.S. town mimicking a European destination. There's also Leavenworth, which is modeled after a German Bavarian alpine village. Nestled in a valley in the Cascade Mountains, this town offers tons of outdoor recreation, specialty shops, and an array of dining experiences like The Cheesemonger's Shop, the Sausage Garten, and artisan chocolate peddler Schocolat. Or plan your visit around one of the town's many annual festivals.


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Backcountry hut in Talkeetna Mountains
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Talkeetna, Alaska

If you're headed to America's Last Frontier anytime soon, you'll want to put Talkeetna, a small town that sits at the base of Denali, on your list. What makes this town quirky? Well, for starters, its mayor was once an orange cat named Stubbs, who generally spent his governing days roaming or snoozing at Nagley’s General Store (alas, Stubbs passed in 2017). It's also a pitstop for the many climbers who hope to summit the country's tallest peak and those surrounding it. Beyond that, Talkeetna is full of art galleries, outdoor markets, live music, and more.

Victorian storefronts in Ferndale, USA
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Ferndale, California

This historic town near California's Redwoods calls itself "California's best-kept secret" and claims it fuses "old-fashioned Americana and modern quirkiness." It is packed full of incredibly maintained Victorian-era architecture surrounded by sweeping coastal views. It attracts artists, craftspeople, and other creatives, and — no surprise — is consequently full of art galleries and other interesting shops. While there, stay at one of the historic lodging sites like the stunning Victorian Inn, or you can even set up a tent or park your RV at Wuss Camp, a spot where you can "focus on the fun of tent camping without the hassle."


Related: The Best Budget-Friendly RV Campgrounds in Every State

Tubac, Arizona
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Tubac, Arizona

A former Spanish garrison turned artist colony, this little town south of Tucson hosts a surprising array of funky boutiques and art galleries, all "situated along meandering streets punctuated by hidden courtyards and sparkling fountains," according to the town's chamber of commerce. Not many people know about Tubac, but it's hip and quirky enough to have been written about by The New York Times, and Travel + Leisure named it one of America's "10 Most Charming" small towns to visit. Travelers can grab a bite to eat at the highly rated Stables Ranch Grille, take a hike along the Santa Cruz river, soak in the therapeutic copper-ionized pools of the Soulistic Healing Center, or grab a beer at Abe's Old Tumacacori Bar. 


Related: The Most Underrated Town in Every State

Leiper's Fork, Tennessee
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Leiper's Fork, Tennessee

For quirky Southern charm, you can't do much better than the village of Leiper's Fork, located in Tennessee's Williamson County near the larger town of Franklin. Here you'll find live music and open-mic nights at the local grocer, Puckett's, shops filled with antiques and other fun finds, and tons of charming places to lodge, including the Pot N' Kettle Cottages, GratiDude Ranch, and Lyric at Leiper's Fork. There are also a number of charming vacation rentals available to rent online

Helen Georgia
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Helen, Georgia

While some small towns can be sleepy and still, Helen is anything but. It's a destination buzzing with things to do. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town offers tons of outdoor fun, for starters, including tubing on the Chattahoochee River, zip-lining, horseback riding, and more. But don't worry if you're not the outdoorsy type — there's also plenty to do in the town center, including vineyards and breweries, plenty of quirky shopping destinations, and an array of places to eat that includes Muller's Famous Fried Cheese Cafe and the picturesque Village Crepe Haus

Busy Main Street, Mt. Airy, NC
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Mount Airy, North Carolina

This little town north of Winston Salem and Greensboro is often called the "real-life Mayberry" because it was Andy Griffith's childhood home and it served as inspiration for "The Andy Griffith Show." Plenty of its attractions revolve around the show. For instance, you can take a squad car tour of certain spots in a replica of Deputy Barney Fife's vehicle. You can stay in the Aunt Bee Room at the Mayberry Motor Inn. Or grab a pork chop sandwich from Snappy Lunch, where Griffith used to visit as a young man. Not a huge Mayberry fan? No problem ... there's plenty more to keep you busy. Mount Airy is filled with shops, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and outdoor destinations like Pilot Mountain State Park

Bell Buckle, Tennessee
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Bell Buckle, Tennessee

What makes Bell Buckle quirky? Well, to begin with, each June it holds the RC Cola Moonpie Festival, which culminates in the divvying up of the world's largest Moon Pie. But there's more to this Tennessee town than that. Conveniently located about an hour southeast of Nashville, Bell Buckle is a great place to hunt for antiques (be sure to check out the Livery Stable Antique Mall) or order up some down-home grub at the Bell Buckle Cafe while listening to live music.  

Marfa, Texas
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Marfa, Texas

When The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote about this small West Texas town in 2018, it referred to its "mysterious allure," labeling it a "complicated" town made remarkable, in part, by the "collective energy emanating from the cowboys and artists who live there." Marfa is, indeed, tough to categorize, so much so that the locale's slogan is, "Tough to get to. Tougher to explain.” If you do happen to pass its way, however, there's plenty to keep you busy. Hike the Chihuahuan Desert, check out the mystifying Marfa Lights, and shop at one of its many boutiques. At night, lay your head down at the historic Hotel Paisano, where members of the "Giant" film cast stayed in 1955, or El Cosmico, a bohemian slice of desert lodging filled with Airstreams and other trailers. 


Related: The Best UFO Tourist Attractions Across America

Waterpark in Santa Claus, Indiana
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Santa Claus, Indiana

Some towns are labeled quirky for their creative residents and thriving art scenes, and others for their near-total devotion to some tourist-drawing focus. Santa Claus, of course, belongs to the latter and needs little explanation. Known as "America's Christmas Hometown," the town does offer plenty of holiday-themed shops and activities (yes, even in July), but it's also home to the Holiday World & Splashin' Safari water park, Abraham Lincoln's national memorial boyhood home, and more. In other words, this quirky little town serves up plenty of history and high spirits alongside its holiday focus. 


Related: The Most Christmas-y Towns in America

Roswell Welcome Sign
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Provincetown Massachusetts August 2017 at the end of Cape Cod Provincetown has a large gay population of residents and tourists.
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Provincetown, Massachusetts

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a town that has drawn the likes of artist Jackson Pollock, author Jack Kerouac, and novelist Norman Mailer probably has a touch of quirk to it. Much of that can be evidenced by shopping at Provincetown's stores and boutiques, which are about as far from big-box as you can get. For example, Marine Specialties is an Army-Navy surplus shop with a selection of products that Travel + Leisure once described as "positively cuckoo." There's also the Whydah Pirate Museum, the LGBTQ-focused Boatslip (P-Town is a popular vacation destination for this community), and lots of options for a wide array of eats. 


Related: 12 Small Towns Known for Being LGBTQ-Friendly

Eldora Mountain Resort, Nederland, Colorado
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Nederland, Colorado

Most people have heard of Boulder, Colorado, which famously attracts both artists and world-class athletes, but few know about the tiny town of Nederland, population of around 1,300. Each winter, the town hosts Frozen Dead Guys Days, an homage to one-time resident Bredo Morstoel (aka Grandpa), who is cryogenically frozen and stored in a Tuff Shed on dry ice high above Nederland. Fodor's once included the event among "America’s Coolest Winter Festivals." But that's certainly not all this town has to offer. Visitors can ride the historic Carousel of Happiness, grab a Nepalese meal at Kathmandu, ski nearby Eldora Mountain, and grab coffee and breakfast from a train car

Oz Museum, Wamego, Kansas
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Wamego, Kansas

The Midwest isn't always known for its quirk, but Wamego, a town about 90 minutes west of Kansas City, is a different story. For example, Wamego has the Oz Museum, a destination dedicated to all things Dorothy-and-the-gang-related. There's also the Wamego LSD Missile Silo, where almost all of the world's LSD was thought to have been produced in the 1990s. For a bit of history, check out the 1857-founded Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, founded by abolitionist and minister Henry Ward Beecher. Finally, in an adorable twist, there are also a number of public art pieces around town that are inspired by Dorothy's pup, Toto.

Terlingua, Texas
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Terlingua, Texas

Terlingua is more of a ghost town than it is a town, but that doesn't keep thousands of people from flocking to it each year to experience its cool and laid-back West Texas vibe. It's home to the Terlingua Trading Company, where you can pick up some great souvenirs, as well as the rustic and hip Big Bend Holiday Hotel and The Starlight Theatre, where you can catch live music and enjoy a cold cocktail or beer and some grub. Finally, when the Kiva Bar opens back up after the pandemic, it's a must-see drinking establishment that's unlike anywhere you've ever bellied up to a bar. Finally, if you plan to visit in the fall, try to time it around the annual Terlingua ​International ​Chili Championship in early November, when the area seems like anything but a ghost town. 


Related: 30 Historic Dive Bars Across the Country 

Colma, California
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Colma, California

If you're the type of person who considers a graveyard a tourist attraction (no judgment here, btw), this "City of the Dead," should be on your small town bucket list. Colma has a living population of around 1,600 but more than 1.5 million graves in 17 cemeteries. This aberration started about 100 years ago when San Francisco needed more space for some of its deceased residents. Some pretty famous people are buried here, including Wyatt Earp, William Randolph Hearst, Joe DiMaggio, and Levi Strauss. 


Related: 50 Famous Gravesites Worth Seeing Around the World

Slab City, California
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Slab City, California

Once a U.S. Marine Corps base, this "squatter's paradise" in Southern California's desert is now home to artists, snowbirds, counterculturists, and other misfit-esque individuals that don't fit in with your typical American communities. While it once had a population of around 15,000 in the 1980s, there are now around 3,500 people who live there during the winter, and just a few dozen year-round. The eponymous concrete slabs that once housed military units are now adorned with messages like "The Last Free Place" and "Keep It Simple. God Is Love." It might not be a small town for everyone, but if you're intrigued, there are a few Airbnbs you can rent while visiting. 

Gibsonton, Florida
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Gibsonton, Florida

The Guardian once called this Gulf Coast destination "the last 'freakshow' town in America." While that might seem mean-spirited, it actually refers to the town's history of being a home for carnival acts. While many of those carnies are now long dead or gone, the town seeks to keep that spirit of acceptance and strangeness alive through acts like the World of Wonders Entertainment Experience and destinations such as the International Independent Showmen’s Museum in nearby Riverview. 

Historic Bisbee, Arizona
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Bisbee, Arizona

One shop in Bisbee, Black Sheep Imports, describes its general vibe as "a mildly inappropriate, highly expressive, possibly offensive, fashionably strange, unique boutique." And it's certainly not the only shop in this small town's busy center that offers a unique shopping experience. Located near the Mexico border, Bisbee is home to a varied and eclectic selection of restaurants, nightlife, galleries, and unusual experiences such as the Bisbee Seance Room and the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour. For a quirky place to stay, we recommend The Shady Dell, which offers vintage trailers alongside the onsite Dot's Diner, which serves breakfast and lunch on Fridays through Sundays. 


Related: 30 Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Retire Across America

Mackinac Island
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Mackinac Island, Michigan

Mackinac Island has the distinction of being the only town in America that has banned cars, which is pretty quirky when it comes to how we do things in this country. On top of that, however, it's a lovely Lake Huron-adjacent destination filled with great shops, diverse restaurants, outdoor adventure, and historic treasures. Check out some military history at Fort Holmes and Fort Mackinac, grab some homemade sweets at one of the many fudge purveyors in town, or just go for a bike ride on the only automobile-free highway in the U.S., the 8-mile M-185 loop.


Related: The Most Romantic Place in Every State

Fairfield, Iowa
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Fairfield, Iowa

Named one of "the 25 coolest towns in America to visit in 2021" and once dubbed "America's Most Unusual Town" by Oprah Winfrey, this southern Iowa locale has a vibrant arts community surrounded by cornfields, as well as a diverse culture and quirky entertainment scene. It's home to the Maharishi International University, the world's largest training center for the technique of Transcendental Meditation. There's a thriving tech scene here in this town of 10,000 — humorously coined "Silicorn Valley" — and Fairfield, despite its small size, is filled with shops, coffeehouses, galleries, ciders, wineries, and breweries. 

Shopping street in downtown Ithaca New York State USA
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Ithaca, New York

Once given the No. 3 spot on Travel + Leisure's list of "America's Quirkiest Towns," Ithaca is known for its hippie culture and arts community. Some of the more eclectic places to visit here include a meal at Moosewood Cooks, a vegetarian restaurant open since 1973 and made famous through the Moosewood cookbook; visiting the Namgyal Monastery, which is the North American seat of the Dalai Lama's monastery; or stopping by Gourdlandia, a place dedicated to all things gourd-crafting.