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America’s 10 Most Unique State Capitals

America’s 10 Most Unique State Capitals

5. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Situated on the Susquehanna River’s east bank, Harrisburg is the state capital of Pennsylvania and enjoys an extraordinary character with plenty of historic architecture offset against its skyline.

Harrisburg became the Pennsylvania state capital in 1812 thanks to its convenient positioning along the Pennsylvania Canal and Railroad – turning it into one of the most industrialized cities in the region.

Native Americans originally called the area Peixtin or Paxtang. In 1985, John Harris planned to build a town on this land and named it Harrisburg, after his family.

Harrisburg photo
Photo by jimbowen0306

A few facts about Harrisburg:

  • In 1906, Teddy Roosevelt said that the Harrisburg capital building was the most handsome he’s ever seen.
  • Built in 1902, the Rockville Bridge is the world’s longest stone arch bridge and is a symbol of railroad engineering.

Harrisburg operates through a strong mayor form of government.

The annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in the city is the largest agricultural exhibition in the country. Harrisburg is also a key destination for jazz festivals and events throughout the year.

4. Frankfort, Kentucky

Frankfort Kentucky photo
Photo by Bryce Fields

Nuzzled in Central Kentucky’s Bluegrass Region along the Kentucky River, Frankfort is the state capital of Kentucky. The city enjoys a picturesque blend of natural landscape set against the backdrop of a well-planned cityscape.

After the conceptualization of Kentucky as a state in 1792, the search was on for a state capital. Frankfort won the honors because the town was able to put up $3000 worth of gold, 1500 pounds of nails and ten glass boxes.

The name Frankfort was a manipulation of Frank’s Ford, where a frontiersman – Stephen Frank – was killed in 1780 at a local river fording place.

A few facts about Frankfort:

  • “Politian”, Edgar Allan Poe’s only play was inspired by an 1825 real-life murder in the city, even though the actual play transpires in 16th century, Rome.
  • Frankfort hosts the Kentucky First Lady Doll Collection, showcasing many inaugural gowns adorned by first ladies over a period of 200-plus years.

Frankfort follows a council-manager form of government.

Cruisin’ Frankfort is a striking event as visitors get the opportunity to view classic cars as they line up Downtown Frankfort’s streets. The Bluegrass Festival offers live bluegrass music, stalls and other entertainment opportunities.

3. Montpelier, Vermont

Montpelier Vermont photo
Photo by davidwilson1949

Montpelier is the least populated state capital in the U.S. and enjoys supreme natural topography fringed with lakes and tree-laden surroundings. The city’s primary business is related to government and legislature.

Located in the center of the state, Montpelier quickly developed into a manufacturing hub and emerged as the state capital in 1805.

The city of Montpelier is named after the French town, Montpellier.

A few facts about Montpelier:

  • A Valentine Phantom decorates the city with large red hearts every year on Valentine’s Day.
  • The city is the only state capital that doesn’t have a McDonald’s, so any craving for a cheeseburger means driving several miles to the nearest outlet.

Montpelier’s government follows a council-manager form with a city manager, mayor and city council.

The Brown Bag Summer Concert Series brings people who enjoy live music together, while the Montpelier Mayfest hosts a grand number of events during the first weekend in May.


Lana Pelly Travel expert, writer for America Unraveled.


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