Los Banos

‘Wackiest town names’ in America? This Merced County town made the list

This Central Valley city has some of the nation’s longest commutes. See what it’s like

Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.
Up Next
Bruce Simmons describes his long commute on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. Simmons drives four days a week from the Central Valley on Highway 152 to Gilroy, where he catches a train to his job in Menlo Park.

When a city’s name can be translated as “the baths” or “the bathrooms,” it’s not hard to see how a blogger might call it one of the country’s “wackiest names” — and one did.

A blogger working for a subsidiary of Expedia.com included Los Banos in his list of “America’s 8 Wackiest Town Names,” according to a press release on Wednesday.

Los Banos was eighth on the list behind Hell, Michigan (6); Santa Claus, Indiana (2); and Smackover, Arkansas (1). At nearly 40,000 residents, Los Banos was by far the largest city on the silly list with no other city having more than 7,500 people, and Hell has fewer than 100.

The blogger poked a little fun at the name but stopped short of bullying its residents, saying the Westside city known for its tomato production “is a pleasant town to explore” and name-dropped the downtown and locally owned shops.

“We were immediately intrigued with the name Los Banos. Even with a wacky name, this town offers plenty to explore,” Chris Killen, a blogger for CarRentals.com, said. “However, no note-worthy baths to visit as far as we know.”

Originally belonging to the Yokut people, Los Banos was named by Padre Felipe Arroyo de la Cuesta for the pools, or baths, in the nearby foothills, according to the city’s website. He originally called the city “El Arroyo de Los Banos del Padre Arroyo,” but that was shortened over time.

Other possible California omissions from the list: Dos Palos, which translates to “two sticks”; Manteca, which can mean “lard”; or Los Gatos — “the cats.”

The blog noted a highlight of the city, pointing to the Los Banos Wildlife Area, 6,200 acres of wetland habitat home to animals like jackrabbits and California mule deer. It did not mention the San Luis Wildlife Refuge, a 26,800-acre preserve that sports a new visitors center, a Tule Elk tour route and countless birds.

  Comments