These are the weirdest towns you’ve never visited.
What do Mooresville, Alabama and Stykkisholmur, Iceland have common? Both deliver major quirk factor. Plus, you probably haven’t heard of either. For travelers seeking an offbeat escape, these little-known towns are a unique alternative to the more mainstream spots you keep seeing all over social media. From the “lost luggage capital of the world” to an Andalusian village that’s drenched in blue, these destinations prove weird and wonderful places with big personalities come in small packages.
Dubbed the “Williamsburg of Alabama” (though, we’d liken it to an old-timey version of the fictional neighborhood Pleasantville), Mooresville is a pint-sized town with clapboard cottages, white picket fences, and just 50 people. Strolling the tree-lined streets and stopping at the enduring Mooresville Post Office induces a deep sense of nostalgia.
Once a booming mining colony, this small town is now a hipster hangout. Jerome has tons of eccentric character and possibly a few spooky inhabitants. At its peak in the 1920s, the Billion Dollar Copper Camp had 15,000 occupants. By 1953, just 50 stalwart denizens remained—reducing it to a “ghost city.” These days, you’ll find more artists and musicians than miners, but its wicked western past still haunts venues like the Jerome Grand Hotel.
We implore you to veer off the well-established route and head to the northern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. What sets Stykkisholmur apart? It was the first community in Europe to receive an EarthCheck certification. Bolstering its eco-credentials? An EDEN Award for sustainable tourism. Stykkisholmur also has colorful wooden houses and the Library of Water, an installation by conceptual artist Roni Horn.
Can you believe this fanciful blue village came to be as the result of a publicity stunt for The Smurfs 3D movie in 2011? That’s right, Júzcar owes its playful appearance to Sony Pictures. While this Andalusian gem recently rebranded (a mandate from the heirs to the comic franchise), it retains a delightful whimsy and its signature blue hue.
There are small towns all over the United States, but none holds a candle to Monowi in Boyd County, Nebraska. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, this anomaly has a population of one. Its sole resident? An eighty-four-year-old woman. As you might have guessed, it’s the only locale in the country with such a statistic.
Curious about what happens to abandoned suitcases after flights? Everything ends up in Scottsboro. This whistle-stop in northeastern Alabama advertises an unexpected moniker, the “lost luggage capital of the world” and home to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where lost items are for sale. The most bonkers item ever found? A 5.8-carat diamond ring.
There’s literally no place on the planet like Auroville. Chartered in 1968 by spiritual guru Mirra Alfassa (“The Mother”), this experimental community is dedicated to the ideals of human unity and collective life. Noticeably absent? Property ownership, religion, and money. You can visit Auroville, meet the progressive citizens, and practice silent reflection at the Matrimandir.
You’d never guess that a classic English-style town exists 20 miles outside of Shanghai. This bizarre—yet totally quaint—slice of faux British charm boasts row homes, cobblestone streets, and red telephone booths. There’s even a fish ’n’ chips joint and corner pub. Thames Town is empty of residents, but popular with tourists and couples taking wedding photos.
Coober Pedy (which derives its name from the Aboriginal phrase “kupa piti,” meaning “white man’s hole”) is located in the Australian outback, where the thermometer reaches a scorching 127°F. Due to the extreme temperatures, most of the population lives in underground dwellings called dugouts. Also beneath the surface lies a captivating collection of subterranean churches, hotel rooms, and opal mines.
A trip to Kakunodate transports travelers back to the Edo period. This former Satake territory combines cultural interest, ancient heritage, and scenic splendor. (The weeping cherry trees and beautiful gardens are a sight to behold.) Perhaps most fascinating is that it has maintained the same layout since 1620 and showcases some remarkable examples of samurai architecture.
It may be fun to watch old cowboy films, but living in the Wild West was downright dangerous. Holdups and robberies by outlaw gangs plagued towns like Bannack, Montana. Eventually, this gold rush settlement tumbled into ruin and today, it’s a ghost town. Whether or not you believe in paranormal activity, there have been enough eerie occurrences throughout Bannack’s history to make anyone at least consider the possibility.