Odd Tourist Attractions to Visit in All 50 States
Better at art than the family feed mill business, Larry Godwin used steel sheets welded to solid round rods to make this 26-foot-long, 13-foot-high pig mounted on a trailer in 1967. Find it in Dothan outside a scrap metal yard at the Ross Clark Circle on U.S. Highway 431.
Hop on the Fredmobile tram and ride through volcano Mount St. Wilma on the way to cartoons screening at the Bedrock Theatre. Admission to Flintstones Bedrock City in Williams is $5. (Fishasaurus sandwiches and Gravelberry Pie are extra at Fred's Diner.)
Maxwell Blade's Odditorium and Curiosities Museum ($7.50) is in a former Hot Springs mortuary with a drive-thru window. Inside are some 300 items such as taxidermied two-headed turtles and calves and a ship with rigging made of prisoners' hair.
After a bridge in the San Gabriel Mountains was completed, a flood wiped out the road leading to it. With the road never replaced, it's now the "The Bridge to Nowhere" -- only two hours from Los Angeles but accessible only by a five-mile hike (with a free permit).
Sculptor Peter Toth has one of these 20- to 40-foot giants in each state, but Colorado's stop on the Trail of the Whispering Giants in Loveland -- "Redman," carved in 1979 from a 100-year-old fallen cottonwood tree -- gets special attention because it's on the path to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The nearly 500-foot Thread City Crossing spanning the Willimantic River would be fairly unremarkable if not for its four 11-foot frog sculptures. The Frog Bridge of Willimantic commemorates a night in 1754 when everyone thought it was Judgment Day -- but the ominous noise was just drought-panicked frogs fighting to the death over pond water.
Maybe it's no Nashville, but Dover is where recorded music came to be: Eldridge Reeves Johnson created the Victrola here. The free Johnson Victrola Museum has some spectacular ones, along with an exhibit devoted to Nipper, the RCA mascot, and a recreated record shop circa 1910.
Chicago's International Museum of Surgical Science, in a historic, four-floor lakeside mansion, has more than 7,000 medical artifacts, including an Austrian amputation saw with reversible blade from 1500 and X-rays taken by radiology pioneer Emil Grubbe from 1910, as well as paintings and sculptures depicting healing practices. Admission is $15 for adults, $7 for kids.
After 30-plus years of collecting Cabbage Patch dolls and memorabilia, Donna Brown needed 2,500 square feet to show them off. There are more dolls in Cabbage Patch Fantasy Land than citizens in Griswold, where the museum is located -- and still more not on display. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Dorothy's House & Land of Oz in Liberal ($7 for adults, $4.50 for kids) is in a preserved 1907 farmhouse like Dorothy's. It includes plenty of homemade charm and at least one item from the 1939 movie. The tour starts in a Tornado Simulation Room.
Related: 50 TV and Movie Locations Worthy of a Road Trip
DeRidder's historic buildings include a 1914 Gothic Revival "Hanging Jail" -- so-called after two condemned men were hanged there in 1928, leading to stories that the jail's old cells, spiral staircase (and hanging site), and tunnel are haunted. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children.
Portland's International Cryptozoology Museum ($10 for adults, $5 for kids) is allegedly the only one of its kind -- appropriate for the study of unknown or mysterious animals, including monsters such as Bigfoot, Nessie, the Montauk Monster, and the Jersey Devil, which are well represented in displays.
Cringe at terrifying instruments once used as dental tools and check out a tooth jukebox playing old Pepsodent and Ultra Brite TV commercials, one of George Washington's teeth and his dentures, and more at Baltimore's National Museum of Dentistry ($7 for adults, $5 for kids).
The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture in Cambridge includes a compass that belonged to Galileo, early telescopes, clocks and nautical equipment, and even the first computers. The museum, with 20,000 objects dating back to about 1400, is free.
Said to have been discovered in the 1950s by surveyors who became lightheaded and couldn't get equipment to operate there, the Mystery Spot in St. Ignace seems to mess with gravity, make tall people seem smaller, and cause plenty of other confusing phenomena. A maze and other attractions have been added nearby.
Minneapolis artist Allen Christian has used bowling balls (and other stuff) as art at his House of Balls for more than a quarter-century, and might let people in to see it at any hour. Even if you can't get in, there's interactive art accessible 24 hours a day. Donations are appreciated.
Our Lady of the Rockies, the largest Virgin Mary statue in North America, is 90 feet tall, weighs 80 tons, and sits on a 425-ton base along the Continental Divide some 3,000 feet above Butte. Bus tours from the Butte Plaza Mall are $16 for adults and $8 to $12 for kids.
Stamp collectors still have a place to call their own at the Boys Town Visitor Center, home to the world's largest ball of stamps (free). The 4.6 million canceled stamps are 32 inches in diameter and weigh 600 pounds -- the same since 1955, when the ball appeared in "Ripley's Believe It or Not."
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Enforcement, better known as the Mob Museum, has three stories of exhibits, from Dick Tracy comics merchandise to a look-alike of an electric chair from Sing Sing. Buy tickets online for $21 for adults ($3 off) and $14 for kids. Not planning to be in Vegas? Try an online nickname generator anytime.
Long before Pokemon Go there were Pac-Man, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. The American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia has more than 300 classic arcade games to play across 10,000 square feet. It's located in the even vaster Funspot Family Fun Center, which is free to enter.
Syracuse's Tipperary Hill feels like a visit to Ireland -- even a local traffic light puts green on top -- but Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub is the real corker. Leprechauns have their own booth, separate entrance, and taxi stand. (And don't miss the tiny park.) Inside are two clocks, one giving the time in Syracuse, the other in Dublin.
The 32-mile Enchanted Highway in western North Dakota offers travelers eight larger-than-life roadside sculptures. Located every few miles on a two-lane highway between Gladstone and Regent, Gary Greff's sculptures include giant grasshoppers, "The World's Largest Tin Family," and "Geese in Flight," named the world's largest metal sculpture by Guinness in 2000.
Cincinnati's American Sign Museum ($15 for adults, free for kids 12 and under) showcases late-1800s pre-electric signs and iconic American symbols such as the McDonald's arches. It takes 19,000-plus square feet of space and 28-foot ceilings to accommodate the large exhibits.
Whatever you think of pigeons, at the American Pigeon Museum & Library in Oklahoma City (free), they're "man's oldest feathered friend." Along with the books, artifacts, and memorabilia are exhibits on homing pigeons and their use in wartime. There are live pigeons, too.
The Mütter Museum in Philadelphia ($18 for adults, $13 for kids) is a storehouse of 20,000 medical "wonders" -- abnormal body parts preserved in fluid or oak frames, an 1889 electrometer donated by Marie Curie, even the death cast of "Siamese Twins" Chang and Eng, whose autopsies were performed there.
Folks in Newport have asked for ages who built the mysterious, 28-foot fieldstone tower in town. Some suspect it was the base of a former colonial windmill, or maybe put up by vikings, or Knights Templar from medieval Scotland. It's free to visit and puzzle over.
Four stories high and weighing a tornado-proof 675,000 pounds, "Busted Plug Plaza" is billed as the world's largest fire hydrant. It's actually a sculpture, and formerly a fountain, in a parking lot in Columbia. Visitors can take snapshots with the same artist's trippy "Tunnelvision" mural in the background.
It doesn't cost anything to see the 6-ton prairie dog at the Ranch Store in Philip, which has been sniffing the horizon for more than five decades with no signs of tiring. There's a colony of real prairie dogs to the north of the store to feed peanuts.
In 1968, John Mikovisch began some home improvements to his place in Houston, much of it aluminum siding -- made of beer cans, which is why it's called the Beer Can House ($5 for adults, free for kids under 12). Ripley's estimates more than 50,000 cans were added over 18 years.
Some of the puppets in the Bread and Puppet Museum in Glover -- a crammed storage barn for the Bread and Puppet Theater troupe -- are downright creepy. The sign on the door says "Enter at Your Own Risk," and puppeteers ask off-season visitors to "turn out the lights when you are through." Donations are welcome.
Recently made a state park ($8 for adults, $6 for kids), this 215-foot tall limestone Natural Bridge (backdrop for a nightly Biblical light show since the 1920s) is among six miles of hiking trails and the 30-foot Lace Falls. It was once surveyed by George Washington and owned by Thomas Jefferson.
About 200 metal people and animals reside in downtown Raymond and along State Route 6 and Highway 101. They were put up by artists starting in 1993, bulking up a town with only about 3,000 real people.
Hayward has a giant muskie 4.5 stories tall and as long as a Boeing 757. Of course, it's not a real fish, but rather the fiberglass shell of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. ($8 for adults, $6 for kids). Visitors enter through the tail to see exhibits (including a real 69-pound muskie caught in 1949) and stop at an observation platform in the building's "jaw."
This was the first site named a National Monument -- by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 -- and is instantly recognizable from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." How it got its mysterious shape isn't fully understood, which has led some to supernatural explanations. But others just come to climb it.