The Strangest U.S. City Nicknames You’ve Never Heard Before

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Most major American cities have a nickname. Some are pretty obvious like the "City of Angels” in reference to Los Angeles or the "Windy City" in reference to Chicago. Others, however, can be downright bizarre. Here are the strangest U.S. city nicknames that you’ve probably never heard before.

San Diego, California: America’s Finest City

San Diego skyline over the water with walkway and palm trees in front
Credit: Dancestrokes/ Shutterstock

While it might seem presumptuous to label your hometown as “America’s Finest City,” the people of San Diego, California know that no other city can match their miles of beaches, pristine year-round weather, and wide variety of fun activities. The nickname was created by former mayor Pete Wilson, who made it stick by implementing “America’s Finest City Week,” a week-long celebration of everything that makes San Diego great. There are a few other nicknames for San Diego, but none are used more frequently than “America’s Finest City.”

Hershey, Pennsylvania: The Sweetest Place on Earth

The main gateway entrance to Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Credit: George Sheldon/ Shutterstock

Calling your city “The Sweetest Place on Earth” might seem exaggerative, but Hershey, Pennsylvania's nickname is more accurate than you might think. As the city’s name suggests, Hershey is the home of the one and only Hershey’s chocolate factory. Every day, tons of chocolates and candies pour out of the small town to the delight of people around the world. Perhaps it really is the sweetest place on Earth!

Forestville, California: Poison Oak Capital of the World

Aerial view of Northern California wilderness, showing heavy fog obscuring forest landscape
Credit: M. Cornelius/ Shutterstock

The people of Forestville, California gave themselves the moniker “Poison Oak Capital of the World.” Typically, it's not something a city would want to brag about, but hey, they're proud of what makes them unique!

Tucson, Arizona: The Sunshine Factory

Tucson, Arizona, USA downtown skyline with Sentinel Peak at dusk
Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Cities in Arizona have plenty of sand and sunshine. The people of Tucson, Arizona thought they had enough of the latter to earn the nickname “The Sunshine Factory.” The name graced road signs for a while in the 1980s until the city’s nickname was changed to “Tucson: Real. Natural. Arizona,” which isn’t quite as whimsical.

Honolulu, Hawaii: The Big Pineapple

Aerial view of scenic beach and city in Honolulu, Hawaii
Credit: Izabela23/ Shutterstock

Everyone knows that New York City is called “The Big Apple,” but did you know that a tropical city took Manhattan’s nickname and put their own island twist on it? Honolulu, Hawaii is the capital of Hawaii and the state's largest city. Recognizing the pineapple industry in the area, the city adopted the nickname “The Big Pineapple.”

Champaign-Urbana, Illinois: Shampoo-Banana

Aerial view of university buildings and greenery in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Credit: Ken Wolter/ Shutterstock

The twin cities of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois really enjoy their nicknames. Typically, the locals refer to both cities by the single name “Chambana,” a combination of Champaign and Urbana. Since even that can be a mouthful, they also frequently use the nickname “Shampoo-Banana” since “shampoo” sort of sounds like “Champaign,” right?

Crestwood, Kentucky: Whiskers

Snow covered barn in Crestwood, Kentucky
Credit: Vicki L. Miller/ Shutterstock

The tiny town of Crestwood, Kentucky is located just northeast of Louisville. Back in 1857, Joseph Beard donated the land to make the first railroad station. The station, along with the town that grew around it, was called Beard after Joseph. Even though the city’s name was changed to Crestwood in 1909, the clever nickname “Whiskers” stuck around in honor of Joseph Beard.

International Falls, Minnesota: The Icebox of America

Ariel View of Rainy River in International Falls, Minnesota
Credit: Kallie Kantos/ Shutterstock

International Falls, Minnesota is a small town of only 6,000 people on the Canadian border. Every winter, the temperatures drop well-below freezing, which makes it one of the coldest places in the United States. In 2019, International Falls hit a record low of -45 degrees Fahrenheit! It was even colder than the South Pole — earning the town the nickname, “The Icebox of America.”

Douglas, Wyoming: Jackalope Capital of the World

Train going through field under storm clouds in Douglas, Wyoming
Credit: Drew Halverson/ Shutterstock

Jackalopes are beloved mythical creatures that look like jackrabbits with antlers. They gained popularity in the small town of Douglas, Wyoming when a creative taxidermist made the first stuffed jackalope by attaching antelope antlers to a rabbit. The fad took off and soon they were a country-wide phenomenon.

Douglas earned the nickname “Jackalope Capital of the World” since the city has the most wild jackalopes of any place on Earth — zero. Although there have been no actual sightings, the town does have an eight-foot jackalope statue in the town center and a 13-foot tall jackalope on a hill nearby.

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