Our list of wacky attractions ...Not your average museum
If you are interested in seeing something a little less ordinary than the commonly advertised sites, museums or theme parks during your travels in the United States, we’ve got a list of whacky travel attractions that may be just what you’re looking for! From classic American roadside travel stops, to offbeat museums and individually run venues, you’ll discover that from coast to coast there's a quirky place and a unique experience that you can include in your next U.S. vacation.
The Flintstones Bedrock City
CUSTER, SOUTH DAKOTA
The Flintstones Bedrock City and Campground in Custer, South Dakota is a fun place to visit for the whole family. The campground brings the fictional setting of Bedrock to life. It is complete with Barney & Wilma's house, a telehorn office, and the KROCK radio station. Visitors can order a brontosaurus burger at the Drive-In just like the characters do in the opening credits of the show. With a swimming pool, theme park, and a gift shop on hand - it's sure to be a “Yabba-Dabba-Doo!” time.
Salvation Mountain, located in Imperial County, CA is one man's tribute to God. Leonard Knight created this piece of 'outsider art' to showcase and share his passion for God with passersby. Biblical and religious scripture, flowers, trees, waterfalls, birds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects, flank the mountain's main message, "God Is Love." In 2002, Salvation Mountain was entered into the US Congressional Record as a national treasure. While Knight's intentions are too sincere to be labeled 'wacky,' his creation is truly unique.
NATURAL BRIDGE, VIRGINIA
Enter into a time tunnel and discover Stonewall Jackson battling a vicious spinosaurus! Get surrounded by deadly meat eaters! See Abe Lincoln after he’s lassoed a pteranodon chewing up the Gettysburg address! witness a stegosaurus being milked! If you like prehistoric creatures and civil war history, you’ll flip out over Dinosaur Kingdom II! This is definitely perfect for the family.
WALL, SOUTH DAKOTA
In 1930's South Dakota, Ted Hustead's wife had an idea to help bring traffic into their declining drug store. Dorothy Hustead came up with a jingle and created a sign attracting drivers from the nearby highways - "Get a soda/Get root beer/Turn next corner/Just as near/To Highway 16 and 14/Free Ice Water/Wall Drug." The sign worked, and Wall Drug has become an expansive tourist attraction of international fame, taking in more than $10 million a year and attracting some two million visitors annually to a remote town whose population has never exceeded 800. The silly signs have become their trademark of sorts, and after a time, Mr. Hustead was spending $300,000 a year on billboard advertising, including Wall Drug signs on London buses and in every train station in Kenya. The little store has been expanded into a 75,000-square-foot sprawl of western kitsch, housing an enclosed mall (selling everything from souvenir T-shirts to pricey cowboy boots) a 400-plus- seat restaurant, and a range of free attractions. While it's certainly a sight to be seen when traveling in the West, Wall Drug seems to be famous for its fame - as a sign at the Taj Mahal will prove - "only 10,728 miles to Wall Drug."
Museum of Bad Art
Affectionately known as MOBA, the Museum of Bad Art is an awesomely fun place to visit. Founded in 1993, MOBA is located in the basement of the Dedham Square Community Theatre in Massachusetts. The museum is the only one of its kind, priding itself on the collection, preservation, and celebration of bad art in all its forms. MOBA has collected over 400 pieces of unintentionally awful art, but due to limited space, only 30-40 pieces are shown at a time. Dreadful clowns, failed attempts at profound abstract art, and grotesque nudes are some examples of the museum's splendidly frightful collection.
The JELL-O Gallery
LE ROY, NEW YORK
There's always room for... a JELL-O Museum? Apparently, in Le Roy, New York there is. A carpenter named Pearle Wait created America's favorite dessert in Le Roy in 1897. The gallery shares the building with the town's historical society and pays homage to the hometown treat. The JELL-O Gallery offers a detailed history of JELL-O, trivia, past recipes, and plenty of vintage advertising memorabilia. If you enjoy JELL-O, or are just interested in seeing something a little fun and different, a stop at this museum is definitely worth considering.
SANDIA PARK, NEW MEXICO
Tinkertown Museum is the result of the tireless efforts and tinkering passions of one man, Ross Ward, who spent more than 40 years gathering glass bottles and carving wooden objects to create a whimsical, folk art museum. Ward began working on the tiny western town in 1962. His motivation to create Tinkertown, stemmed from his desire to keep people’s interest in roadside attractions alive. Ward was successful, as Tinkertown Museum remains a unique addition to New Mexico's roadside stops. Ward created everything in it, right down to its wooden "people." The collection includes an animated miniature circus, old west memorabilia, and an antique 40-foot sailboat that has sailed around the world. While Tinkertown's beloved designer passed away in 2002, Ward's family continues to operate the museum and carry on the tradition of this very special attraction.
DILLON, SOUTH CAROLINA
No Southern road trip is complete without a stop at South of the Border. One of the most famous rest stops/roadside attractions, South of the Border offers shops, six restaurants, gas stations, campground sites, a motel, and an amusement park named Pedroland Park. Poncho-wearing Pedro, a stereotypical Mexican figure, is the attraction's mascot. Pedro is featured on hundreds of highway signs that countdown the number of miles to South of the Border. Among the intentionally foolish items written on the signs are: "You Never Sausage a Place!", "You're Always a Wiener at Pedro's", and "Chile Today, Hot Tamale!" South of the Border and all its 'campy' quirkiness has steadily drawn in the southern flow of traffic, attracting those who are happy to partake in a little silliness and fun.
Coral Castle, in Homestead, Florida, is among the world's most puzzling structures. In terms of accomplishment, Coral Castle has been compared to Stonehenge, ancient Greek temples, and even the great pyramids of Egypt. This is rather astounding, considering that it is believed that the structure was entirely quarried, transported, and constructed by one man. According to the tale of Coral Castle, Edward Leedskalnin, a native of Latvia, created Coral Castle for his ladylove. In true legend fashion, his lover left him high and dry and the heartbreak that ensued drove Leedskalnin to make constructing the castle his life's mission. It is estimated that 1,000 pounds of coral rock were used to build the castle. Because nobody can recall ever seeing Leedskalnin laboring, or any modern machinery, it is believed that he possessed supernatural powers. Whether the story is true or not, the mystery sure makes for a fine story and continues to draw visitors to the remarkably beautiful Coral Castle.