Once upon a time, weirdness wasn’t generally associated with cities, at least not until a Texas bookstore owner printed 5,000 “Keep Austin Weird” bumper stickers to fend off an incoming Barnes & Noble. Not only did the gimmick work, it quickly spread to other U.S. cities, with many adapting some version of the slogan to suit their individual needs.
Now scores of U.S. metros proudly trade on their quirks, which can signify everything from underground music or arts, a creative rebirth, eclectic attractions or just a fiercely independent streak. One midwestern city proudly calls itself “north of normal.” Another plays the quirk card to help overcome its previously roughshod image. (Apparently, its working, because one U.K. paper just called this place America’s coolest East Coast city). On the West Coast, one Bay Area town has emerged as California’s most oddball city. (Spoiler alert: It’s not San Francisco).
Regardless, ranking weirdness is an art, not a science, despite recent efforts to quantify quirkiness with data. Read on for our picks of America’s 10 weirdest cities, and find out what makes them great!
10. Fargo, ND
Fargo is weird without even trying, which is probably why this “slightly off-center” midwestern town has inspired so many TV shows and movies. The city of 120,000 residents prides itself on being “north of normal,” with a pioneering prairie spirit that’s given way to a thriving arts, food and music scene.