Bucket List August 15, 2022
These 15 Small Towns Across America Have Big Claims To Fame
Here at OnlyInYourState, we have a lot of love for our
small towns. While our Bucket List features often cover larger cities, epic attractions, luxurious vacations, and must-visit national parks, there are many, many more adventures to be had in our country’s smallest locales, too. In addition to boasting amazing scenic beauty and charm, some of the smallest towns in the U.S. also have great, big claims to fame. From historic points of interest and roadside attractions to world records and natural wonders, we invite you to visit the following small towns across America that are anything but ordinary.
Blockbuster, 211 NE Revere Ave #3, Bend, OR 97701, USA
Compared to other destinations on this list, Bend is by no means a "small town," but we happen to thinks its claim to fame is quite extraordinary. In addition to being a bucket-list-worthy destination for all types of outdoor recreation, Bend is home to the very
on the entire planet. This old-school video shop is a nostalgic place that's beloved by the local community, and its mere existence captured the imagination of Hollywood filmmakers with the 2020 sleeper hit "The Last Blockbuster." Whether you're a film buff or not, visiting this classic video shop is a pop culture experience that's not to be passed up.
Dog Bark Park, 2421 Business Loop 95, Cottonwood, ID 83522, USA
Dog lovers will appreciate this
, fun, and functional roadside attraction in Cottonwood, Idaho. Located off Highway 95, the
Dog Bark Park Inn
is housed in the belly of Sweet Willy, the world's largest beagle. The rooms of this quirky B&B are appropriately adorned with dog-themed decor and literature, making for a barkin' good time for dog lovers. If you don’t want to stay the night, you should stop to merely admire the structure, which is surrounded by a picturesque prairie backdrop. You'll also find an on-site gift shop with replicas of the great big beagle for sale, ensuring that you'll always remember your visit to this small town (though it would be impossible to forget!).
Only in Wyoming would you find the world's largest elkhorn arch, mounted over the downtown like a prized piece of taxidermy. In the small town of
, there's a big surprise awaiting visitors: a colossal, record-setting arch comprised entirely of antlers. The arch was built in 1958 using shed elk antlers collected by townspeople, a practice the locals still participate in to maintain the huge arch. Over 3,000 elk antlers were woven together to form the superlative showpiece, and there are two smaller arches flanking it on either side of the four-lane road it spans, all but guaranteeing that you'll long remember this Wyoming town.
Mile High City gets a lot of attention as one of the highest towns in the country, but there's another Colorado town that holds the superlative crown. A beautiful treasure in the West,
, is a town of only 300 residents, but what it lacks in population it more than makes up for in stature -- literally. Sitting at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet, Alma is the highest town in the U.S., and its post office is the country's highest landmark.
Smack in the middle of the Midwest,
is an Oklahoma town that is one of the best hidden gems in the country. This town of under 20,000 is home to more museums per capita than any other city in the U.S., and these are next-level, must-visit, bucket-list-worthy attractions. From the Will Rogers Memorial Museum to the Lynn Riggs Memorial to the Davis J M Arms & Historical Museum and the eponymous Claremore Museum of History, there's a lot to see and do in this unassuming Oklahoma city.
Cawker City, Kansas
Cawker City, KS 67430, USA
There's debate about whether or not the gargantuan ball of twine in
is, in fact, the world's largest (there's another enormous ball in Darwin, Minnesota). But really, that's beside the point. In 1974, Cawker City's Frank Stoeber created an 11-foot ball of twine using 1.6 million feet of the rugged material. After his passing, Cawker City built an open-air gazebo over Stoeber's ball where a "Twine-a-thon" is held every August and more twine is added. What makes this Cawker City attraction so amazing is that it's a living, breathing artwork that continues to grow and evolve over time.
Did you know the second most photographed national statue in the country (behind Mount Rushmore) is in
? It’s Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. While there are many Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox exhibits across the state, this Minnesota monolith is 18 feet tall and weighs in at seven and a half tons. Built in 1937, Bunyan stood alone for two years, until his 10-foot-tall, blue-hued sidekick was added in 1939. Once you've taken sufficient selfies in front of this iconic pair, stop into the nearby Visitor Center to see Bunyan's giant-sized flannel shirt, telephone, wallet, and toothbrush.
Blue Earth, Minnesota
Blue Earth, MN 56013, USA
Blue Earth, Minnesota
, is home to something very green -- and very large. In this town of just 3,100, the Jolly Green Giant definitely stands out. This 8,000-pound, 55-foot tall giant sports a Superman stance and verdant green garb, and it's the largest statue of the Jolly Green Giant in the world. You can admire this jovial green guy at the eponymous Jolly Green Giant Park in Blue Earth. The statue was built in 1979 with permission from the Green Giant company, headquartered about 70 miles away in Le Sueur. As with so many of America's quirky roadside attractions, this unique statue was built with money from local businesses in an effort to attract attention to the town. Decades later, the giant continues to do just that.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA
There are many states known for a particular food or dish. Think Texas BBQ, Maine lobster rolls, and Wisconsin cheese. in Michigan? Fudge. In fact, in the Great Lakes State, there’s one region, in particular, that’s not just the fudge capital of the state; it’s the top fudge producer in the country.
is a delightful coastal locale that enjoys a laid-back, old-fashioned way of life. In this no-car city, you'll find residents and visitors walking, biking, and even enjoying horse-drawn carriage rides around town, square of fudge in hand. The island has 14 fudge shops that collectively make more than 10,000 pounds of fudge per day during the peak season, though if you're searching for the the town’s oldest fudge shop, head to May's, an impossibly charming fudge shop that's been tantalizing tastebuds on Mackinac Island for almost a century.
Old Talbott Tavern, 107 W Stephen Foster Ave, Bardstown, KY 40004, USA
Kentucky is Bourbon Country, so it's only fitting that the state is home to the world's oldest bourbon bar. In beautiful Bardstown, the
Old Talbott Tavern
has been serving Kentucky's favorite sultry spirit since 1779. In addition to its expansive menu of 200+ varieties of bourbon, guests can stay and dine on Kentucky classics like fried pickles and hot browns. What's more, this tavern is a fully operational inn; one of the most historic in the country, and a must-stay in Bardstown, Kentucky.
Up in Newark, Ohio, sits a seven-story, 180,000-square-foot basket. It's the world's largest basket and the former headquarters for the Longaberger Company. This behemoth basket building along State Route 16 in Newark is a novelty piece of architecture you have to see to believe. Of course, Ohio is no stranger to
; the Buckeye State also harbors the World's Largest Rubber Stamp, World's Largest Cornfield, and World's Largest Cuckoo Clock.
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine often gets overshadowed by Florida's big names like Miami and Orlando, but this town really does deserve your attention. The epitome of Old Florida, St. Augustine is a place of fascinating history and culture. Dating back 450 years, St. Augustine is
one of the country's oldest and most historic cities
, and places like Castillo de San Marcos National Monument celebrate its legacy. But the town is more than just historical sites and museums; its downtown district along Aviles Street -- the oldest street in the country, in fact -- has amazing local shops, incredible restaurants, and top-rated distilleries, making for a wholly delightful experience.
Chester, West Virginia
World's Largest Teapot, Co Hwy 30/6, Chester, WV 26034, USA
West Virginia is home to some truly bizarre roadside attractions, but nothing compares to the
. If you’re driving along West Virginia's Highway 30, you'll do a double-take as you come upon this tea-time tureen. Unlike some of the other roadside attractions on this list, there's actually a very reasonable explanation for this kitschy kettle: Chester is the former center of the world’s largest pottery industry, and the teapot was installed to represent that. After the pottery business was sold, the teapot faced demolition; however, the Chester community rallied together to successfully save this unique treasure. Today, this 14-foot-tall teapot makes for a fun and unique rest stop in a small but scenic town in West Virginia you might not otherwise visit.
Middleburg, VA 20117, USA
In a place as historic as the Old Dominion, it's only fitting that the oldest inn in the U.S. can be found in Middleburg, Virginia. Since 1779,
has welcomed road-weary travelers and hungry diners. Its lengthy resume reflects its age; over the years, The Tavern has served as a tavern, barber shop, bakery, private home, antique shop, and even hospital for both Confederate and Union soldiers during the war.
In 1994, The Tavern was acquired by a new ownership and restored to its original beauty and purpose: a place where visitors from all over could gather for good company and great food, in one of the most memorable and historic settings in the country.
Margate City, New Jersey
Margate City, NJ 08402, USA
Located along the beach in Josephine Harron Park in Margate City, New Jersey, the world's greatest elephant stands strong, beautiful, and proud. This is
Lucy the Elephant
, and she is a New Jersey treasure. At six stories (65 feet) high and weighing 90 tons, Lucy is the largest elephant in the world. Visitors can climb a spiral staircase inside Lucy, and learn more about her and the rest of the park during the guided tours. Definitely opt to take a tour, because the history of this larger-than-life elephant is fascinating. Lucy the Elephant is America’s oldest surviving roadside attraction, draws in over 100,000 visitors annually, and is absolutely the most photogenic pachyderm in the world.
Did you know these small towns across America had such claims to fame? The U.S. is a country that’s comprised of 50 wonderful, wholly unique states — each with its own identity, culture, history, and bucket-list-worthy bragging rights.
Address: Claremore, OK, USA Address: Margate City, NJ 08402, USA Address: Dog Bark Park, 2421 Business Loop 95, Cottonwood, ID 83522, USA Address: Afton, WY 83110, USA Address: Cawker City, KS 67430, USA Address: Bemidji, MN 56601, USA Address: Blue Earth, MN 56013, USA Address: World's Largest Teapot, Co Hwy 30/6, Chester, WV 26034, USA Address: Newark, OH, USA Address: Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA Address: Middleburg, VA 20117, USA Address: Old Talbott Tavern, 107 W Stephen Foster Ave, Bardstown, KY 40004, USA Address: Blockbuster, 211 NE Revere Ave #3, Bend, OR 97701, USA Address: St. Augustine, FL, USA Address: Alma, CO, USA