But you don’t have to travel far for photo ops like these. North Carolina has an assortment of strange town names, from the ironic (Cashiers is nowhere near Register, for example) to the puzzling (how does a place come to be known as Grabtown?) to the downright funny (welcome to Boogertown).
Wildlife is a recurring theme across the state. A town near Raleigh is said to have gotten its name from an animal observed in the area before it was developed. Lizards were seen slurping at the air as they sunned themselves, and the town of Lizard Lick was born. Similar sightings are behind the towns of Possum Trot, Rabbit Hop, Rattlesnake Lodge and Bear Wallow Hollow.
Food is also well represented on the map. The town of Barbecue is just a stone’s throw from Fayetteville, but a trip to Burger Town near the Tennessee border will give you lots of time to work up an appetite. Toast is farther from Honey Pond than you might like, and Lickskillet and Frying Pan Landing are nowhere near each other. But Meat Camp and Soda Hill are next-door neighbors.
You can add some far-off destinations to your travel tales without ever leaving the state. If you’re headed toward the coast, you can take photos in Egypt, Warsaw, Turkey, Honolulu and Shanghai. Just east of Charlotte, the town of Palestine is considerably more peaceful than its namesake. If none of these is exotic enough for you, Jupiter is about five hours to the west.
Some town names set up a certain expectation before you even make the trip. Would you rather spend a night in Joyland or in Savages Crossroads? Perfection or Outlaws Bridge?
Sunshine, Thankful and Happy Home sound like heaven. But, in all fairness, the other half of Half Hell might be quite pleasant.
Many town names leave you wondering just what the story behind them might be. Did the same people discover Spies and Listening Rock? How many beauty salons are in Hairtown? Why are Trust and Luck so close together? Why are Democrat and Republican so far apart?
Then there are the just plain funny ones. If there’s a child in the car with you (or a particularly immature adult), you will hear giggles all the way from Boogertown to Big Lick to Stumpy Point. You can find a lot of sandy bottoms at the beach, but the town of Sandy Bottoms is nowhere near it. And for a memorable Christmas card, gather the family for a photo in the town of Elf.
We may not be home to Toad Suck (Arkansas) or Sweet Lips (Tennessee), but a road trip across North Carolina can be an entertaining experience. Watch for signs, and don’t let Tick Bite or Bat Cave pass you by!
To help you plan your next road trip, we’ve listed some strange town names by region. Happy trails!
Bear Wallow Hollow
Frying Pan Landing