It’s during these dog days of summer when we realize Back to School will be here before we know it and it’s now or never if we’re going to pack our bags and finally take a vacation. But where’s an explorer with nothing but a fleeting summer and a suitcase to go? When it comes to wacky tourist attractions in America, the options are positively endless! If you’re looking for a summer getaway that’s more than a trip to the beach or a hike in a national park, then boy do we have a list of hot spots for you!
These bizarre destinations may seem a bit like an April Fool’s joke or places you pray your mother-in-law spends her retirement, but we assure you they are worth some consideration. From the Land of Giants to the Salt & Shaker Museum, there’s something for everyone. If you decide to take us up on any of these locations, be sure to bring a little extra cash for souvenirs and don’t forget to send us a postcard and a selfie!
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Let’s start with the uh, Cadillac of destinations. Cadillac Ranch is rated #5 on Trip Advisor’s “Things to Do” in Texas. The brainchild of Amarillo millionaire Stanley Marsh III, this roadside attraction features 10 classic Cadillacs dating from 1948 to 1963. But here’s the catch, they are standing upright in the ground, nose-first and completely covered in graffiti. Love it or hate it, a snap at this homage to the “Golden Age” of the American automobile would look great on your Instagram
And you thought the yellow stuff in Madison was just cheese! Open 7 days a week, this museum in southern Wisconsin is all about everyone’s second favorite condiment. There are nearly 6,000 jars, containers, bottles, and tubes of varying mustard varieties from across all 50 United States and 70 countries. There are also hundreds of items of historical importance including memorabilia and advertisements. Watch the history of mustard in the MustardPiece Theater, and of course, no visit is complete without a trip to the gift shop. Best of all, it’s FREE!
This place is not for anyone that gets grossed out when they touch gum underneath the table at a restaurant or step on it when walking on the sidewalk. When you’re in Bubblegum Alley, you’re in the depths of the chewy stuff. The famous alley in San Luis Obispo, California, is 15 feet high and 65 feet long and completely covered in chewing gum that’s been there anywhere from minutes to years. Over 20 years ago local businesses tried to have the wall cleaned, but they were refused, and it’s been left in it’s colorful, chewed and spit-out glory ever since.
Declared the largest maze in the world, this giant pineapple garden maze is crafted from 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants. Stretching over three acres and approximately two and one-half miles of paths, this maze is not to be missed if you’re in Wahiawa, Hawaii. For around $8, guests seek out eight secret stations throughout the labyrinth. Before you go, download the app for an enhanced experience.
There’s always room for a trip to the Jell-O Gallery Museum during your travels. Located in LeRoy, New York (5 hours away from NYC), you’ll learn everything you could possible ever want to know about the famous dessert. Everything from its production and history to recipes and secret ingredients. You’ll probably even learn why the museum is in LeRoy, New York. Tickets are a cool $5.
While we’re talking about dessert, we might as well mention the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard in Waterbury, Vermont where the “dearly de-pinted” are laid to rest. With so many flavors that have come and gone over the years, this is your opportunity to pay tribute to the ones that didn’t make the cut. Located behind the ice cream factory, each headstone has clever commentary about the “lives” of each of the discontinued flavors. Some of the zombie flavors have been brought back a few times.
Okay, this one gives us the chills just thinking about it, but if you’re in to that kind of thing, then this one is definitely for you. The story behind this house is quite mysterious. A woman named Sarah Winchester purchased the farmhouse after her husband and children died. The place is full of architectural oddities such as miles of secret passageways, a grand ballroom that was created using almost no nails, a staircase that leads to nowhere and doors that open to nothing. It’s in San Jose, California if you want to visit or you know, stay the heck away! Who put this one on the list?!
Although much of Las Vegas has stayed the same over the years, there’s a whole lot that has changed! The Neon Museum is an incredibly cool place to see a collection of the most iconic signs that once lit up the famous strip. Like a trip back in time, the guided tour will give you a detailed look at some of the neon signs of yesteryear.
Because sometimes it’s the little things that matter most, this museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is dedicated to 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from around the world. We know what you’re thinking, “you’ve seen one set you’ve seen ‘em all.” But not so fast! There are thousands of varieties that date all the way back to the 1500s. It’s probably absolutely fascinating! Add a little variety to your vacationing, it’s the spice of life, you know.
The Land of Giants in Unger, West Virginia is sure to give you some perspective on things. Created by a couple known for their vast collection of over-sized statues, this tourist destination is filled with enormous statues. The Mr. and Mrs. Farnham (average sized people, in case you were wondering) promise giant Santa Claus and Muffler Men.
Located in Santa Cruz, California, in the redwood forests the Mystery Spot will leave you second guessing gravity and your perceptions of the laws of physics. Discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors, it officially opened in 1940 and has amazed and stunned visitors around the world ever since. Although the spot sits on a slope, you’ll feel like you’re leaning forward! The closer you move to the center of the cabin, the more dramatic the lean gets. The photo opportunities in this place are incredible.
One time in 1922, a mechanical engineer known as Mr. Elis F. Stenman designed a summer home out of newspaper. Look, they didn’t have Netflix or Snapchat back then, they had to get creative. His creation is now known as “The Paper House” and is found in the little town of Rockport, Massachusetts. The house has everything from paper chairs and tables to a paper piano. Just don’t sneeze, okay?
Hey, it could be fun! It’s always a good idea to be open to new opportunities even if you have to tell people you spent your summer on a nuclear waste adventure. RAD! Located in St. Charles County, Missouri, this trail and museum is full of exhibits that trace the history of America’s largest explosives factory.
Outside the museum guests can check out acres of land featuring TNT, radioactive uranium, and mercury, as well a huge mountain of Cold War-era uranium refinery. (Pro tip: The St. Louis arch is like an hour away, so you could always hit that up afterwards if nuclear waste turns out to be a drag).
Let’s end on a flush here by suggesting a trip to a popular tourist spot in San Antonio, Texas. Plumber Barney Smith retired and turned his love of all things crap into a museum by making art out of toilet seats. Once just a hobby in his garage, this museum is now a popular spot for travelers who will even ask for Barney to engrave their name on a toilet seat for the collection.
So there you have it – a complete list of summer adventures just waiting for you. Go ahead and pick one (or more!) and head out on what might just be one of the best summers ever. But first, you’re going to need something to wear….
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