West Des Moines, Iowa
The quiet humor of West Des Moines, a town that neighbors Des Moines, manifests in the names of stores in its shopping district: Atomic Garage (antiques), Let Them Eat Cake (baked goods), Whatta Dish (pottery), and Squiggles (gifts).
That shopping district, known as Valley Junction, hosts a weekly farmer’s market as well as an annual chili festival and an Antique Jamboree, among other celebrations of flavor both literal and otherwise.
But don’t take West Des Moines for a groovy backwater. Wells Fargo has a corporate office in town, as does Hy-Vee, a chain of nearly 250 supermarkets spread across eight states. Unemployment is low, as are home prices, and the school district ranks among the best in Iowa; West Des Moines graduates almost 95% of its students. Just be sure to have toothbrushes at the ready if, after school, the kids say they’re headed to Nan’s Nummies (sweets). — Max Zahn