The World's Silliest Places

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The World's Silliest Places

(that I've been)
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On occasion, my adventures in the real world get as silly as anything I've ever dreamed about. To commemorate those occasions, I've compiled a list of the silliest places I've ever been (and why they're so silly).

  1. Dallas, Texas, USA. Home of the Conspiracy Museum!
  2. Rockland, Maine, USA. Home of the Sea Goddess!
  3. Freehold, New Jersey, USA. Where "the Boss" goes for hometown concerts. Moving up in the ranks, because the people of Freehold are voting for it!
  4. Mabou and Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada. Homes of the Mother of Sorrows Pioneer Shrine and Gift Shop, and the Nova Scotia Giantess! This former twin champion is moving down in the ranks, because the people of Tatamagouche are defending their town's honor!
  5. Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA. Suburbia at its silliest. Moving up in the ranks, because the people of Hoffman Estates are voting for it!
  6. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. It's not about Mardi Gras... but hurricanes do enter the picture.
  7. East Berlin, DDR. Site of "The Wall Live in Berlin" concert!
  8. Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Home of Anne of Green Gables! Moving down in the ranks, based on voting and a report that the really silly museums have left town. Aww.
  9. Lexington, Virginia, USA. Home of the Robert E. Lee Chapel and Gift Shop! Moving up in the ranks, because other visitors think it's silly too!
  10. Douglas, Massachusetts, USA. Redneck country in the middle of New England. Moving up and down in the ranks, because the people of Douglas are voting!
  11. Speedway, Indiana, USA. Home of the Indy 500, which is much like a redneck Mardi Gras. Moving down in the ranks, because Hoosiers care about the honor of Speedway!


  • For what it's worth, I spent at least one day and one night in each Silly Town on this list before reviewing it. That's as much as any place can expect from any traveller. Welcome to the world of travel reviews.
  • I enjoyed each of these Silly Towns immensely. I've had so much fun in them, I've given them free publicity here, on my own Web site which I work hard to maintain, okay?
  • I've spent months or years in some of these places, and got exposed to much more silliness than I could get in just one night. I've tried not to hold that against the other places, though. For that reason, I've tried to give a bonus to places that were incredibly silly after just one day of travel.

    So you don't like my ratings? You can vote for or against your favorite Silly Town!

  • People tell me the voting process itself is so silly, it reminds them of the presidential caucuses in Iowa, USA... but the process works! Just invite the people of Freehold, Hoffman Estates, and Tatamagouche to visit this site and check how they've affected the ratings. The town of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada even voted itself entirely off the list!

  • Silliest Places I've Ever Been
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    Not all Dallas Dating Sites are created equal. Datehookup is your place to find a match in your town.

    Symbol of Dallas Dallas, Texas, USA. I used to do phone company stuff there. And the more I think about downtown Dallas, the sillier it gets. In fact, it's gotten so silly, it's overflowed onto its own web page. Nothing there is quite as silly as the Nova Scotia Giantess... but it does have the Conspiracy Museum.

    Symbol of Maine

    Rockland, Maine, USA. Rockland makes my list mostly on the strength of the Maine Lobster Festival (which I saw in 1996), particularly the beauty pageant which is officially called the Crowning of the Sea Goddess. The natives call it the Crowning of the Sea Hag instead. Here's the things they showcased in the pageant:

    For off-season silliness in the neighborhood, there's the Maine State Prison Furniture Outlet in nearby Thomaston, Maine. They have furniture and other woodwork by the inmates of the Maine State Prison, adjacent to the store. I bought a rolling pin there; it really isn't much good for rolling dough, but it makes a great melee weapon.

    Symbol of Freehold

    Freehold, New Jersey, USA. I went to Freehold on business, and ran into more weirdness in two weeks than most places have in a year. Here's some.

    Freehold has a lot of cool people in it, some of whom contributed to this entry. Thanks to all the following.

    Symbol of Canada Mabou and Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada. Every town in Nova Scotia works hard for tourist dollars, but some towns have to work harder than others. For instance, Louisbourg doesn't have to work terribly hard, because it has a giant French fortress reconstructed with mass amounts of Canadian taxpayer dollars. Mabou and Tatamagouche, on the other hand, once jointly got my First Prize because this is what they had to work with:

    Thanks to Rob and Rosemary Barrett, who provided scholarly information about Tatamagouche and cared enough to defend its honor. To learn about Tatamagouche's serious history and much more about the Nova Scotia Giantess, one can visit Canada's Digital Collections.

    Symbol of Hoffman Estates

    Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA. It is said among its residents that Hoffman is not only silly, it's a joke; all the other suburbs call it "Hoffman's Mistake" and won't let it join in any suburb games.

    (Thanks to Ginny of Hoffman Estates for the inside info on "Hoffman's Mistake" and the Illinois Nazis. Thanks also to Todd of Hoffman Estates, for this memorable quote from his mother, "If we'd known it would grow this large, we would have moved farther west.")

    Symbol of New Orleans

    New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. I judge New Orleans to be quite silly, though it tries too hard. I refuse to account for Mardi Gras in my silliness ratings, because it is a deliberate attempt at silliness. But even outside Mardi Gras season, there's lots of silly stuff that goes on there:

    Post-Hurricane-Katrina Note: Most of New Orleans has literally sunk beneath the weight of humanity, and was swamped in 2005 the first time the then-most-recent levees broke.

    On this web page, the silliness rating of New Orleans is now purely a matter of public vote. But in my considered opinion, with all due respect to the human tragedy which is intrinsic to life itself, the current situation of New Orleans only enhances its silliness.

    Symbol of Berlin

    East Berlin, Deutsche Democratische Republik (East Germany). I'm sure it wasn't silly before then and isn't silly now, but it sure was when they were tearing the Berlin Wall down and selling pieces of it. Especially the week of the Roger Waters "The Wall Live in Berlin" concert in July 1990. They weren't quite sure what to do with a quarter million extra tourists in town. They should have taken some crowd control lessons from Speedway.

    Symbol of Cavendish

    Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Due mostly to Lucy Maud Montgomery, noted adventure writer. She's best known for Anne of Green Gables, a precocious little girl who grew up (like her author) on Prince Edward Island. (Admittedly, unlike the Bobbsey Twins, Anne of Green Gables grew up and graduated to romance novels. As of this update, not even Harry Potter had done that yet.)

    Ms. Montgomery, like her fictional characters, led an adventurous life herself. This quote comes from her journal of 22 October 1891:

    "We went up the path but when we reached the top - oh horrors!
    There right before us were two cows and they looked simply savage.  
    In panic we turned and flew down that path headlong...
    We had no end of a time getting home, in deadly fear of cows."

    This quote is inscribed among many others, on commemorative plaques at the Green Gables Visitor Centre. One such plaque describes babbling brooks as "gay vagabonds of the woods". (Gotta love those Gay 1890s.)

    The house which inspired "Green Gables" has been preserved for posterity, complete with green trim. A barn was also preserved, complete with a life-size savage plastic cow (just so people know that cows used to live there) and a snack bar (which sells Anne of Green Gables brand potato chips).

    At various times, Cavendish has also offered other attractions for the discerning tourist:

    But call ahead. Aside from tourist season which consists of July and August, much of Prince Edward Island is closed. Reportedly most of the museums have left town in disgust.

    (Thanks to Sandra of Cavendish for updates on that entry. Yes, I admit Anne of Green Gables is probably worth reading for someone, even if I'm not the target audience. And I'm glad to hear that Cavendish is still near a water park, a golf course, and historical sites for the visitors. That doesn't sound all that silly... at least not until they have as many water parks as the Wisconsin Dells have.)

    Symbol of Lexington

    Lexington, Virginia, USA. This place is the home of Washington and Lee University, and Virginia Military Institute (VMI). This doesn't make it a Silly Place. But there are things which do:

    1. Stonewall Jackson's Outhouse. Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson used to teach at VMI. His home is open to the public as a museum. The kitchen contains wax replicas of period food - except the Virginia ham is real, because it's salty enough to be safe from all scavengers other than Virginians. The outhouse is not part of the museum tour, but it is plainly visible from neighboring houses and inns.
    2. The Robert E. Lee Chapel and Gift Shop. Who's that statue of, behind the pulpit? No, it's not Jesus, it's Robert E. Lee! Confederate General Lee is buried in the family crypt downstairs, but his death statue is upstairs, in the part of the sanctuary which most places call the "Holy of Holies". Downstairs in the gift shop, the Robert E. Lee Beanie Baby is conveniently made available for sale. You can buy the doll, take him upstairs, pose him next to the General's statue or in his favorite pew (marked with a plaque), and take your own photos. For those who want to learn other ways to spell "traveler", General Lee's horse Traveller is buried outside, at the door of the chapel.
    3. The Cemetery. Many military heroes are buried in Lexington's cemetery, including Stonewall Jackson himself. But the organizations which honor these heroes with little flags, have to keep extra types of flags around. There's a WW2 hero there (a Marine general who commanded the artillery at Iwo Jima), and he has a little American flag next to his grave, as WW2 heroes often do. But all the other heroes (including some named Sheridan and Lincoln) have either Confederate flags, or markers with same flag plus the Latin phrase "Deo Vindici" ("God Will Vindicate Us").
    4. Tourist Attractions. Lexington is filled with other tourist attractions which are tasteful, such as museums. For tackiness, one has to go out of town to the nearby Natural Bridge, a stone arch on which U.S. Highway 11 (the Robert E. Lee Highway) crosses Cedar Creek. Don't expect to see the view from the highway, though; it's fenced off. You'll have to buy a ticket. But your ticket will get you admission to a nightly Creation Story and Light Show at the bridge site.
    5. Eclectic Cuisine. There's a new Fancy Restaurant in town, the 19 West, which is building up its clientele by serving things other than chicken-fried steak. The beer on tap is sometimes Brooklyn Lager. The Muzak there includes a folk tune, "Will Jesus Wash the Bloodstains From Your Hands?" (Remember, they're in a military town in Virginia.)

    Center of the Universe

    Douglas, Massachusetts, USA. It's the lucky town which borders both Connecticut and Rhode Island. I lived there for several years.

    Douglas, like much of Massachusetts, is "Beyond 495". That means it's farther west than the second beltway from Boston. If Boston had three beltways, Douglas would be beyond the third one too.

    People from not "Beyond 495" say that "Beyond 495" is like walking into a scene from "Deliverance". And to an extent, it's true. In Douglas I first heard the phrase, "You can take your cousin to the Prom".

    Douglas can be divided into three parts:

    The main social activities in Douglas and its neighboring towns are:

    All this wouldn't be so silly, except that Douglas is centrally located among New England's largest cities: Boston, Worcester, Providence, and Hartford.

    The entire town of Douglas, plus several neighboring towns, is a national park: the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. The concept of "National Heritage Corridor" is apparently designed to give National Park Service money to depressed towns which have influential Congressmen, without actually overburdening the National Park Service. There's a ranger station, but it's in the next town, nearby Uxbridge. (I've seen National Heritage Corridors in Connecticut and Illinois too.)

    Douglas also has a lavatory with a stained glass window, in its Second Congregational Church. (Even the second oldest church in town is older than plumbing, which is a comparatively recent addition.) The window is in one of the men's rooms, and is dedicated to Horace and Azubah Emerson. As a bit of historical trivia, "Azubah" is the Hebrew word for "Forsaken" (Isaiah 62:4). People must have been hard up for Biblical names back then.

    And, unless things have changed significantly in Douglas since 2002, be careful for horses on the roads. And especially on the bike paths in the woods. (The town of Douglas taught me respect for the horse. You wouldn't want to scare a horse, would you? I've had friends from New Jersey who didn't care... but they just didn't fit into Douglas.)

    Symbol of Speedway

    Speedway, Indiana, USA. The Indy 500 is not actually held in Indianapolis; there is a Town of Speedway which is built around the racetrack. (I grew up there.) It's a quiet suburban town, except for the month of May when they hold the Indy 500. (And now August, when NASCAR races there. And now they have Formula One racing there too. They had to sacrifice part of the in-track golf course for it, though.)

    During race weekends, it gains the ambiance of a Mardi Gras. When I was growing up, the Indy 500 took two full weekends for qualifications, plus one for the race. But boy, the third day of qualifications was boring. So now they've replaced that day with a quickie 100-mile race!

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