Are These America’s Most Interesting Towns?
Breathtaking scenic views, powerful local legends, and more: As we search for America's Most Interesting Town, these stories surfaced as interesting entries.
By Damon Beres
What: "Not So Late Show"
So, what makes this town interesting? "Did you know that Lawrence, Kansas has its very own late-night comedy talk show?" wrote resident Leon P. We did not, but now we're curious. "Host Mike Anderson is hilariously silly. He somehow got Tony Danza's phone number, and asked him if he'd be on the show—only to get shot down horribly." Sounds rough! But all in good fun. "I really enjoy having a home-grown show that makes local jokes, talks to local guests, and highlights interesting characters one would run into in our amazing town," Leon wrote, in his entry for Mike as America's Most Interesting Character.
Peachtree City, GA
What: Golf Carts on Parade
So, what makes this town interesting? Peachtree City, GA is home to almost 10,000 golf carts according to resident Betsy T., that zip around 90 miles of paths in place of cars. On holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, hundreds of residents decorate the carts instead of traditional floats for the town parade.
What: Famous Fainting Goats
So, what makes this town interesting? "The first recorded mention of 'fainting' or 'nervous' goats was from Marshall County in the 1880s, according to local historians," wrote resident Greg L. "The goats demonstrated a strange tendency to become temporarily rigid, even to the point of losing balance and falling over, when startled."
Lewisburg holds an annual Goats, Music and More Festival to celebrate the area's quirky claim to fame.
What: Upside Down Flower Towers
So, what makes this town interesting? Fallen trees in the Tongass National Forest are converted into these artistic "upside down flower towers" as part of the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure tour.
Eau Claire, WI
What: A Monster in the Chippewa River?
So, what makes this town interesting? "Just last week the Chippewa River became home to a sculpture of the Loch Ness monster, 'Nessie,'" wrote Wisconsin resident Maria J. "Even more strange than a sculpture of Nessie taking home in the middle of the river is the fact that no one has any idea where it came from. It was simply there one day."
What: Patriots' Day Parade
So, what makes this town interesting? What started as a tradition of celebrating America's veterans nearly 140 years ago in Polo, IL continues to this day. As in the 1917 parade, above, today "people still line the streets, stand, remove their hats, and put their hands over their hearts as the flag passes, applauding loudly as veterans go by," wrote local Linda G. "Polo's Memorial Day Parade is small-town America at its best, happy to live in a town where the community remembers and wholeheartedly respects and honors its fallen."
Lake Placid, FL
What: A Tree Grows in Nearby Lake Istokpoga!
So, what makes it interesting? How's that for a unique view? "A natural lake lined with graceful Cypress trees offers spectacular sunrises and sunsets," wrote resident Cheryl L. "This tree, just off of our dock, is home to nesting Ospreys."
Ness City, KS
What: The Ness County Bank Building
So, what makes it interesting? "Nicknamed 'Skyscraper of the Plains,' the Ness County Bank Building is one of the eight wonders of Kansas architecture," wrote resident Yvette S., "said to be the finest and most imposing structure west of Topeka when it was finished in 1890." Civil War veterans did much of the construction work and heavy lifting—one single arch stone weighed nearly 7,000 pounds, according to the Kansas Sampler. The four-story landmark was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
What: A Town's Story, Written in Flames
So, what makes it interesting? "Downtown Anamosa was devastated by fire on February 14, 1875," wrote Becky D. "At half past 1 a.m., wild cries of 'Fire! Fire!' broke upon the stillness of the night, the congregational bell echoed the dreadful alarm, and in a few minutes, hundreds of citizens were rushing in the direction of the lurid light of roaring and crackling flames."
What: Bird World!
So, what makes it interesting? "You can see more bird species than any other place in the country in McAllen," wrote Nancy M., including the Green Jay, seen here. "Some 526 species have been recorded, making it a hotspot for avid birders from all over the world."
Lake Placid, FL
What: "The Sistine Chapel of Winn-Dixies"
So, what makes it interesting? After retiring, Bob and Harriet Porter of Lake Placid, Florida, above, set off to see the world—on motorcycles—eventually reaching Chemainus, British Columbia, where they were inspired by the town's outdoor murals.
"They immediately started their trip back to Lake Placid with a fervor to revitalize the town," wrote neighbors Mike and Jan S. The couple founded the Lake Placid Mural Society, and today 44 interactive murals enliven their town. So impressive are the works of art that the Tampa Bay Times dubbed one "the Sistine Chapel of Winn-Dixies."
What: Joplin legacy
So, what makes it interesting? "My uncle's great, great grandfather, E.R. Moffet, was a founding father of Joplin and was appointed as the first mayor of Joplin by the governor of Missouri in 1873," wrote Rhonda B.
What: Springtime snow
So, what makes it interesting? "At least 10 feet of snow remains on the Mount Eccles Elementary School playground, and the children have built igloos and snow slides in lieu of swings and other equipment that is buried beneath their feet," wrote Rochelle V. "Folks in the community are estimating the snow should be melted off by September, just in time for the start of winter in October."
What: Marriage Day
So, what makes it interesting? "Elkton celebrates its rich history on 'Marriage Day' every year," wrote Kimberly M. Why's that? "Between 1913 and 1938, there was no waiting period in Maryland to get a marriage license, as there was in neighboring states. Eloping couples streamed into town on trains and buses for a speedy ceremony at one of the dozen chapels on Main Street. At the height of business, 11,791 marriage licenses were issued in one year"—including to celebrities of the time like Joan Fontaine, Debbie Reynolds, Martha Raye, according to the Washington Post. Following this tradition, eager couples tie the knot in Elkton on the third Friday of every June.
South Glens Falls, NY
What: Charity dance
So, what makes it interesting? Over 600 students gathered for a 28-hour "marathon dance" to raise money for charities in South Glens Falls, NY.
What: The Thunderegg Capital of the World
So, what makes it interesting?"Legend is the thunder gods who lived in Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood would hurl large round-shaped rocks at each other," wrote resident Susan B., explaining one theory behind the geodes scattered over the plateaus of Central Oregon.
Show Low, AZ
What: Funny origin
So, what makes it interesting? Two cowboys decided their town wasn't big enough for both of them, and determined the loser of a card game would leave. According to the town's site: "One said, 'If you can show low, you win.' The other turned up the deuce of clubs and replied, 'Show low it is.'"
What: The Crystal City
So, what makes it interesting? A stunning view that makes the town's nickname crystal clear!
Hay Springs, NE
What: The Walgren Lake Monster
So, what makes it interesting? "Our town has an interesting 'thing' living in our lake," wrote resident Jennifer W. "Legend says that a monster, 20 feet long, lurks in the mossy lake near Hay Springs, NE. Near the turn of the century, it was reported by fishermen who used the lake for catching trout. It has never been photographed or caught, but as word spread it became a mascot for our town. Some say it's a large otter or muskrat. Others say it's imaginary. Only true believers know for sure," she continued. "If you camp at the lake this summer, you may see it hiding in the reeds, or swimming in the mossy undergrowth of the lake. Come...see for yourself."
Santa Claus, IN
What: Year-round Christmas celebration
So, what makes it interesting? Never mind the North Pole: Residents say Santa Claus, Indiana is the place for Christmas cheer, 365 days a year.
"When I tell people I live in a town called Santa Claus, it brings a smile with a 'Really?' from each and every one," wrote Melissa W. "As home to the only post office in the world with Santa's name, our charming town receives thousands of letters addressed to jolly St. Nick from all over the globe." The town planners even kept the holiday spirit when naming streets, which boast jolly names like Holiday Boulevard, Ornament Lane, Silver Bells Terrace, Snowball Drive, and Kringle Place Boulevard. Wonder which one Rudolph lives on?
What: Nation's oldest Flag Day Parade
So, what makes it interesting? Don B wrote, "Appleton, WI hosts the oldest Flag Day Parade in the United States. In 1949, the Appleton Elks Club decided to honor the U.S. flag with a community parade. The Elks, many of whom were W.W. II veterans, wanted each citizen to feel American pride and appreciate his freedom. That same year, an Act of Congress signed by President Truman officially recognized June 14th as National Flag Day.
“Today, our Flag Day Parade unites citizens of all walks of life. A crowd of 60,000-75,000 lines the streets of Appleton to honor the United States flag and pay tribute to our military. We come together to celebrate America and the rights and freedoms we all enjoy. We stand together for the floats, the bands, and the marchers, but our unmatched patriotism, pride, and passion make our Flag Day Parade truly special."
What: The Dennison Canteen
So, what makes this town interesting? “During World War II, young Lucille Nussdorfer saw the sadness in the soldiers' eyes as they passed through town, on trains to bases and distant fronts overseas,” wrote Teri E. “She rallied friends, neighbors, and anyone who would help to hand out sandwiches, coffee, fruit, and most importantly, smiles.”
The depot quickly became the Dennison Canteen. “An estimated 1.3 million soldiers were served during the canteen's heyday,” Teri E. continued. “Nationwide, it became so well known—and appreciated—that military forces nicknamed the town ‘Dreamsville.’
“In the 1980s, a local group of caring citizens rallied to save the building from being razed. Today the depot is host to an annual Soldiers Homecoming Festival complete with a ticker-tape parade, and a ‘Polar Express’ train ride that draws thousands of visitors. Recently the depot received the honorable status of National Landmark—the only such in the county! As the soldiers might have said: ‘I’ll be seeing you...in Dreamsville.’”