It seems like the US has become prime hunting ground for the strange, weird, and the odd. Alien graveyards, the world’s largest ball of twine, bubblegum walls in not one, but two states; point your finger anywhere on the map and there’s likely to be a bizarre foray within a few miles.
For the average traveler, there are simply too many choices. So we’ve done the hard work of ranking which ones are worth your time and money. One thing’s for sure — these crazy attractions will leave you asking, “Who thought this was a good idea?”
51. The Fayette Frog Farm, Mississippi
Skip the Jim Henson Museum in nearby Leland. Who needs Kermit when you can tour a whole farm full of these weird gangly sculptures that make you question whether the creator has ever seen a frog?
Human-size and miniature frogs are set up in tableaus of ordinary life, sitting on porches, playing instruments, and chatting with guests (other frogs) at the dinner table. It’s adorable, it’s sad, it’s weird, but mostly it will make you nostalgic for the Jim Henson museum you should have gone to instead.
50. Potato Museum, Idaho
Frankly, potato anything in Idaho is not that surprising. This museum is strange, though, in that it is one of the most popular and most visited in the state. Yes, people come from miles around to take selfies with the world’s largest styrofoam potato, learn about the farming of this “perfect food,” and buy potato-flavored candy for the ride home. Yum.
49. Dole Plantation Pineapple Garden maze, Hawaii
The Pineapple maze is polarizing, as you can imagine. Some people think it’s a waste of time; Dole advertises it as “Hawaii’s Complete Pineapple Experience.” We’re not sure where the difference is here, but one thing’s for sure: the Dole Plantation has a monopoly on the niche pineapple tourism industry, if there is such a thing (there’s not).
If you go, you can enjoy a DoleWhip on a novelty train ride to the world’s largest maze, which is made not out of pineapples but ordinary hedges.
48. Hammer Museum, Alaska
Unfortunately this is not a museum dedicated to the hip-hop career of the MC of the same name, though anyone who wants to build one has our backing. No, this place is all about hammers, the construction tool. The weird thing about this museum, besides its subject, is that visitors insist it’s actually really interesting. If you’ve ever hung a painting and thought, “Gee, I sure wish I knew more about this useful creation,” as you stared lovingly at your hammer, well, you’re in luck: all you need to do is go to Alaska.
47. Belcourt Castle, Rhode Island
For the country’s littlest state, RI certainly has a lot of odd in it. It’s home to H.P Lovecraft, the occasional trolling ground of Edgar Allan Poe, and boasts a high concentration of haunted mansions, or mansions that look like they should be haunted.
The Belcourt is one of these. Built as a summer cottage for a long-dead millionaire, this castle’s reported paranormal activity is off the charts. These days, it hosts celebrity weddings, but that doesn’t mean the ghosts have moved out.
46. Largest Ball of Paint, Indiana
It’s exactly what it sounds like. It all started with a tennis ball coated in a single layer of bright blue finger paint. Then, founder Michael Carmichael kept adding to it, eventually inviting fans to do the same. Now, the ball weighs over two tonnes and has to be suspended from the ceiling using industrial-strength chain supports. Today, you can visit the ball and add your own layer of paint. Together, we can make that thing the size of an asteroid.
45. Upside-Down White House, Wisconsin
No different from the one in D.C, politicos might joke. However this tourist stop is not a comment on current events, but a strange dive into conspiracy theories that range from the local to the extraterrestrial. Inside, visitors are guided through rooms where everything has been mysteriously turned upside-down, and things only get weirder from there as “Top Secret” mysteries come to light.
44. Prehistoric Gardens, Oregon
This coastal rainforest trail dotted with enormous dinosaur statues is meant not just to entertain, but to inform. The sculptures follow a chronological path through the ages, giving visitors a history lesson along with plenty of photo opportunities. The park was the pet project of amateur archeologist Ernie Nelson, who ran the place until his passing at the age of 91. It remained in the family, and is now run by his granddaughters.
43. Clark’s Trading Post, New Hampshire
Clark’s took the cheesiest bits of Americana and decided to run with it. Part ode to pioneer history, part circus, Clark’s has all kinds of fun but head-scratching activities packed into one place. There’s a train ride through the forest pursued by the legendary Wolfman, a water park, and rock climbing. The circus is the main attraction, with things you probably aren’t going to see at any other roadside attraction in the States, like Chinese acrobats and a dancing black bear.
42. UFO Welcome Center, South Carolina
Are you an alien road-tripping through the continental United States? Then you’re invited to stop in at this ramshackle labor of love for all things extraterrestrial. Built by space ambassador wannabe Jody Pendarvis, the Welcome Center is like an Airbnb, with a bed, bathroom, and all the amenities — but bookings are for aliens only. Why does it resemble a B-movie UFO perched on top of a shack? So that the aliens will recognize it, we suppose.
41. Seattle Gum Wall, Washington
We don’t know how the gum wall got started — no one does — but somehow, it’s become one of the most well-known landmarks in the state. Located in Post Alley, the gum wall is a brick wall studded with ABC (Already Been Chewed) gum. It’s a hotspot for photos, and of course, it wouldn’t be a true gum wall experience if you didn’t stick your own slobbery gob of sugared rubber somewhere on this gross edifice before you leave.
40. Republic of Molossia, Nevada
With all the weird stuff (and people) in Nevada, it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Molossia is a self-declared micronation that is currently unrecognized by the government as a sovereign entity. Founder Kevin Baugh, the President, allows tourists in on one-day foreign visas to see this great nation, although Molossia does not currently have an immigration policy in place so you have to get out before sunset.
39. Rock Zoo, Alabama
From any zoologist’s perspective, the Rock Zoo has a lot going for it. It’s quiet, peaceful, and there’s not a lot to do — you don’t even have to feed the animals. This odd zoo is hard to find, but if you’ve always wanted to see rock cows, rock elephants, and rock turtles in their wild habitat, it’s worth the trip. It’s the only zoo where you can pet a crocodile, and all the animals hold still for pictures.
38. Holy Land USA, Connecticut
Once a pristine amusement park for Bible thumpers, Holy Land USA has since fallen into disrepair. To see it now, you would think you’re looking at Calvary, and not the inspiring scenes from Genesis the founder, John Greco, a devout Catholic, worked painstakingly to create in the 1950s.
Shortly after his death, the park had to be closed to tourists due to its decay (though you can still visit it and even walk around), but there are currently ongoing efforts to bring it back into its former glory. Looks like recreation takes longer than six days, however.
37. Spam Museum, Minnesota
Not to be confused with the other Spam Museum in Hawaii, a popular wedding destination; this is the original Spam Museum, and it’s amazing. Not just a flavorful mystery meat in a can, Spam has become a beloved icon of Americana, and played an important part keeping troops and island diaspora communities alive through several wars in the past century. The whole place is so uplifting, you’ll be a Spambassador by the time you leave. (This is a real position, which exists.)
36. Leaning Tower of Pisa, Illinois
Illinois loves its towers — the state is also home to the Goat Tower of Baaa — and this monument to the Italian landmark is no slouch. Except it does slouch, just like it’s predecessor. Built as a pretty coverup for some water filtration tanks, the state wants you to believe that visiting their leaning tower is as good as heading to the continent to see the real thing. Sorry Italy: you better start trying harder.
35. Carhenge, Nebraska
Though the origins of this monument are not as steeped in mystery as Stonehenge, after which it’s modeled, Carhenge is still strange enough to make our list. Artist Jim Reinders created it as a memorial to his late father, and it’s as close a replica as can be made out of 38 junked vehicles painted matte gray. Reinders’s creation has inspired others to make more art in the vicinity, and the area is growing into a car graveyard sculpture park that, in the right light, is rather majestic.
34. Greenbrier Bunker, West Virginia
This former military stronghold meant to protect political elite during the Cold War has been turned into a luxury resort. Because it was abandoned when it was no longer a secret, the bunker is also a tribute to bureaucratic mismanagement. Originally meant to house politicians in a safe, steel-enforced room if there were a Soviet attack during the Cold War, now it’s open to the public for the low price of $34 per ticket. No word on whether you get your faith in the country back upon completing the tour.
33. The Grave of Mary Ellis, New Jersey
In the parking lot of the Loews Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a very strange sight, indeed: the raised, fenced-off grave of a long-dead settler named Mary Ellis. Her family once owned the property, which used to be woodlands and included a family cemetery that has since become the paved resting place for cars while their owners take in a movie. It’s uncertain why Ellis’s grave has been so carefully preserved, but it has, and you can pay your respects by buying her a bag of popcorn as the concession stand. (Don’t do this.)
32. Hole N’ The Rock House, Utah
Touring through this 5,000 square foot family home in an enormous rock foundation in the Utah desert, you might think that someone took their Flintstones fantasy one step too far. But Albert Christensen began his ambitious excavation more than twenty years before the cartoon aired. He, his wife, and their children actually lived in rooms carved out of the rock, which are equipped with all the modern comforts available in the 1950s. Except windows.
31. The Mütter Museum, Pennsylvania
Describing Mütter as a medical museum doesn’t manage to get across just how disturbing this place is. Any museum that contains what are called “Wet Specimens” promises to be hair-raising. The Mütter, run by the College of Physicians of Philidelphia, was curated with an eye to the grotesque; excised tumors, skeletons mangled by disease, and a liver of lung taken from the body of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin are just some of the gruesome delights on display.
30. Mitchell Corn Palace, South Dakota
Constructed in 1892, South Dakota’s Corn Palace is here to stay. It’s the world’s only palace made entirely of corn, and half a million people come to see it each year. Murals made out of colorful corn kernels and corn sheaves are designed by local artists, and the palace is a popular venue for big musical acts. The Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, and Pat Benatar have all played here, making this about as close to a Las Vegas good time as you can get in the Midwest.
29. Cape Romano Dome Homes, Florida
This cool structure of five retro dome homes looks like it’s about to be washed out to sea — and it probably is. Originally built by the architect to withstand Florida’s seasonal hurricanes, the homes were unfortunately so damaged by Hurricane Andrew that they couldn’t be repaired. Due to rising sea levels, they stand abandoned and surrounded by water. No one’s moving back into these futuristic huts anytime soon, but they sure are cool to look at.
28. Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, Massachusetts
Nowhere in the world do entrepreneurs capitalize on tragedy like in the United States. Lizzie Borden’s appalling crime — murdering her parents with an ax — was a sensation when it happened. Now, you can book a room at the scene of the crime, and take breakfast under portraits of the deceased. Don’t expect a restful sleep, though.
27. Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo, Arkansas
Don’t let the name fool you: you won’t be petting any alligators here. The petting zoo portion of this odd place is the adorable pygmy goats that roam freely, and which one suspects serve as meals for the park’s less hospitable inhabitants. What puts this on the weird map, however, is the small, leathery mummy of an honest-to-goodness merman. It looks like a creepy monkey grafted onto a fish skeleton, but we’re no zoologists. The park swear the merman was pulled out of the local swamp.
26. Oddporium, Delaware
Thanks, Delaware, for making this easy for us. The Oddporium is a museum of the weird and arcane — much of it for sale! Connoisseurs of the odd Beth and Ken Schuler have been curating the museum’s collection of society’s weirdest junk since they got together. You’ll find something weird around every corner: a vintage electroshock therapy machine, lamps made out of bones, an embalmed cyclops pig. Given the uniqueness of the items, the prices are quite reasonable. Buy, buy, buy!
25. Museum of Odd, Kansas
At least when you go to the Museum of Odd in Lawrence, Kansas, you know what you’re getting into. Or do you? This funny little place started out as a modest collection of Elvis Presley keepsakes. You know, like toenails, hair clippings, and fragments of his bedding. Then, when owner Randy Walker threw over 350 sock monkeys into the mix, he knew he had something tourists would come from all over to see. And they do.
24. Winchester Mystery House, California
The house, residence of the widow of the firearm mogul William Wirt Winchester, is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of those shot by Winchester weapons. That’s only half the reason this place is so strange, though. After her husband’s death, wealthy Sarah Winchester went a little loopy, and she took it out on the house. The sprawling, ramshackle structure has hallways that dead-end, doors that open to thirty-foot drops, and winding staircases like something out of an Escher drawing. Luckily, it’s now open to tourists.
23. Vent Haven Museum, Kentucky
If the phrase “Ventriloquist Museum” gives you the heebie-jeebies, then this is the weird pitstop you haven’t been looking for. The inhabitants of this special place number almost a thousand, and are primarily donated by the families of deceased ventriloquists. It’s sad to think that all those creepy, staring, lifeless faces are actually orphaned — but not sad enough for us to consider adopting one and bringing it home.
22. Umbrella Cover Museum, Maine
As the chosen home of author Stephen King, Maine has got to have more than its fair share of weird. But the strangest thing in this state is actually offshore, on Peaks Island where local oddball Nancy Hoffman started collecting the umbrella slipcovers that many people lose or throw away. They are now displayed in her house, along with assorted other relics “dedicated to the appreciation of the mundane in everyday life.” You can also meet Nancy herself, who is anything but mundane.
21. Cano’s Castle, Colorado
Can this towering structure made entirely of recycled aluminum cans be blamed on the fact that Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational pot? Perhaps. What used to be your average Colorado home has been bedazzled with deconstructed beer cans, rising in towers and domes that sparkle in the sun. The builder, Dominic “Cano” Espinoza, began the project because God told him to, but one of the most curious aspects of his tale is that he doesn’t actually live in the self-created palace; he shacks up in an off-the-grid trailer across the street.
20. William P. Didusch Urological Museum, Maryland
Not for the squeamish, this museum house a cornucopia of medical instruments meant to be inserted in a part of the body we will not mention here. Wander through the exhibits listening to a chorus of onlookers softly murmuring “Ouch.” The tools aren’t the squirmiest part though; there are also bladder-related grotesqueries, like a stone removed from someone’s urinary tract that’s the size of a pineapple. Ouch.
19. Emerson Kaleidoscope, New York
Manhattan alone is full of odd wonders to behold, so we decided to venture off the beaten path with this one. Located in the Catskills, this Guinness World Record-holding kaleidoscope inside a tower is the closest you’ll ever come to a psychedelic experience without taking acid. It’s a beautiful, chaotic, artistic light show, after which you’ll need a few moments to get your bearings—in the gift shop. That’s how they get ya.
18. Nicholas Cage’s Pyramid Tomb, Louisiana
Is there a word in that subheading that doesn’t make you go, “Huh?” Us too. So, apparently the actor that brought us Con Air and National Treasure is a hard-core acolyte of voodoo. His interest in the mystical Southern religion led him to purchase one of the last available plots in New Orleans’ famous St. Louis Cemetery No 1, where the most nefarious of voodoo practitioners, Marie Laveau, was laid to rest. Even more curious, the tomb he built in preparation for his death is shaped like an Egyptian pyramid.
17. Whirligig Park, North Carolina
This just barely beat out House of Mugs because, unlike Avery Sisk’s mug-covered cabin, due to the odd bit of lore surrounding its creation. Formerly called Acid Park, the site houses 31 of creator Vollis Simpson’s car-parts and scrap metal sculptures. A fine example of outsider art, people in the area say that Vollis started building his windmill-like fantasies when his daughter died in a car crash after taking acid. Vollis’s daughter is in fact, still alive, and it’s not known whether he made up the legend himself to hype his weird art.
16. The Womb, Oklahoma
You’d have to try pretty hard to be stranger than Oklahoma’s other attractions, which include a bowling ball sculpture park and a two-headed calf. The Womb is a psychedelic, interactive arts center founded by Wayne Coyne of the band The Flaming Lips. It’s 6,000 square feet of art, music, toys, and fun for all ages, but probably the weirdest part of the whole experience is walking through the front entrance, where the doors are painted to represent the entrance to the *ahem* womb.
15. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail, Missouri
This may sound pessimistic, but with the way things are headed pretty soon the whole world will be a nuclear waste adventure trail and you won’t have to go to Missouri. Kidding aside (ha ha) this site is interesting. It’s a former nuclear waste dump that the EPA covered with thousands of tons of rocks to protect the public from the radioactive plutonium beneath. The hike to the summit is actually a pretty mild stair climb lined with railings. We suppose the adventure is in the health risk of being anywhere near the place.
14. Hartman’s Rock Garden, Ohio
Ohio, for being a pretty under-the-radar state in general, has a surprising amount of bizarre sites; Cornhenge, the world’s largest basket, and the Things Swallowed Museum are just a sampling. But we like Hartman’s Rock Garden because it’s just as cool is it is strange. Built during the Great Depression, this artistic monument that sprung up between 1932-1939 is a surreal ode to American history.
13. Radon Health Mines, Montana
The fact that this place even exists is just plain messed up. Radon is proven to cause lung cancer. Despite that, people with ailments spanning from arthritis to toothaches flock here to bask in the radioactive gas emanating from the underground mines. They leave cured of the entrance fee that was weighing down their pockets, but that’s about it. Maybe skip this one.
12. Glass-Walled Public Toilets, Texas
If there’s one thing we’ve always hated about bathrooms, it’s that they’re too private. Now you can do your dirty business in a one-way mirrored box so that it feels like everyone out on the street is in there with you. Frankly, we can see this turning into a worldwide fad in no time. Forget those sad, silent interludes on the porcelain throne, starving for social companionship. In fact, let’s get rid of the walls altogether. Lonely no more.
11. Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum, Texas
Texas is big and there’s a lot of weird stuff there, so it gets to be on the list twice. Barney Smith, who had been decorating reclaimed toilet seats for over fifty years, sadly passed away in June of 2019, but new ownership has committed to keeping his legacy alive. Smith approached his work like a true artist, and visitors to the museum can bring home a toilet seat masterpiece to display—in the bathroom, perhaps?
10. Spiderweb Museum, Vermont
Okay, so there’s this farmer, Will Knight. One day, he noticed he had a lot of spiders living in his barn. “How can I make some extra cash off this?” he wondered (we assume). Then he hatched a plan. Every time a spider completes its beautiful web, he pounces, douses it in white spray paint, and mounts it on a wooden plaque, preserved for all time. You can visit his “art museum” and purchase a piece for your walls. Don’t worry, we’re sure the spiders get a cut of the proceeds.
9. DEA Museum, Virginia
If you’ve ever wondered what the government does with all the paraphernalia they confiscate on raids, you can find a lot of it here. One of the coolest exhibits is the display of all the weird stuff people have made bongs out of. It’s a tribute to human creativity and resourcefulness. This is a great place to visit if you’re planning on developing a habit and want to know what to look for.
8. Nun Doll Museum, Michigan
Anything with dolls is sure to get you a sideways look these days. It’s like it’s become uncool to collect hundreds of tiny human-like figurines in fancy outfits with eyes that watch every move you make. In any case, the Nun Doll Museum is exactly what it sounds like: the largest collection of dolls dressed as nuns in the world. There are also several life-size mannequins dressed as priests. Come see them. They’re waiting to hear your confession.
7. Two Story Outhouse, Wyoming
Way to go, Wyoming. None of these other weird tourist traps made us laugh as much as this one did. Literally one set of outhouses stacked atop another, we shouldn’t have to draw you a diagram to illustrate what a hilarious architectural oversight this is. Despite that, it’s sturdy as anything; the outhouse was originally built as part of the Grand Encampment, a copper mining outpost, in the 1950s. The upper floor is reached by a solid-looking staircase. We call dibs.
6. Biosphere 2, Arizona
We wish the Pauly Shore film BioDome had inspired this science project, and not the other way around. Even so, this ambitious experiment sounds as outrageous as that work of cinematic genius. Built in the 90s, the fully contained domes house a self-sustained eco-system where groups of scientists from the University of Arizona would live for years at a time — without ever leaving. Sounds like a recipe for a Stephen King novel. Hmmm.
5. Safeguard Missile Complex, North Dakota
If you’re a fan of Soviet-era design, this is a must-see. Part of the race for one-upmanship between America and Russian during the Cold War, this structure cost millions to build and didn’t even get used for its main purpose: protecting the States from a Russian nuclear attack. Closed within days of becoming operational, Its pyramid shape is an odd landmark in the vastness of South Dakota, and one can’t help but wonder what really happened inside its concrete walls.
4. Grotto of the Redemption, Iowa
So weird it’s cool, the Grotto of the redemption is at once spooky, beautiful, and awe-inspiring. Made up of millions of precious minerals, stones, shells, and petrified artifacts set in concrete, the Grotto is a religious site that can be enjoyed by anyone. It pays tribute to various saints, Bible characters, and single-handedly started the grotto building movement in America, which I bet you didn’t know existed until just now.
3. Crystal Shrine Grotto, Tennessee
See? TN is pretty slim pickings when it comes to weird (unless the world’s largest cedar bucket is apt to blow your mind), but luckily the Crystal Shine Grotto takes the oddball cake. First of all, it’s in a cemetery. Second of all, it’s in a cave dug sixty feet underground. And third, it’s a quartz-studded shrine to a hybrid of spiritualities that we don’t really understand—and we don’t have to. For us, it’s a shrine to the odd.
2. BabyLand General Hospital, Georgia
Even if you had one of those grinning Cabbage Patch Dolls as a kid, you’re probably unaware of their bizarre origins at this converted clinic in Cleveland, Georgia. Founder Xavier Roberts wanted to capitalize on how real his dolls were made to look by encouraging shoppers to “adopt” them here, at their “birthing” center, from a “nursery.” Uniformed staff dressed as nurses and doctors help you fill out your adoption papers. They’ll also patch up your “child” if it gets a boo-boo. How sweet.
1. Meow Wolf, New Mexico
Meow Wolf took the number-one spot on our weirdest attraction in the US list because not only is it off-the-charts weird, it’s also really good. This immersive art installation is where you should go if you love amusement parks, haunted houses, and The Twilight Zone. A multi-level space with room after room of mind-bending art, everything here is tied together by a central mystery which visitors are invited to solve, although you might have to do some inter-dimensional travel to do it. It’s a trip for all five senses, and not something you’ll ever forget.