Embarking on a cross-country adventure? Looking to explore the lesser-known and unconventional side of the United States? From colossal balls of twine to peculiar museums, the 50 states that make up this diverse nation are home to an array of strange and offbeat tourist attractions.
Whether you’re a lover of the bizarre, a seeker of the peculiar, or simply intrigued by the extraordinary, these unique destinations offer a glimpse into the eccentricities and hidden gems that lie scattered across the country. Join us as we embark on a journey through the fifty states, unraveling the oddest and most intriguing tourist attractions each state has to offer. Get ready to discover the unexpected and embrace the wonderfully weird as we delve into the quirkiest attractions that make each state stand out from the crowd.
Alabama – Ave Maria Grotto
Situated in Cullman, Alabama, the Ave Maria Grotto is a remarkable collection of miniature replicas of famous religious structures from around the world. (A napping cat is used for scale in the photo above.) Built by a Benedictine monk, it serves as a peaceful and contemplative attraction.
Alaska – Hammer Museum
Housed in Haines, Alaska, the Hammer Museum showcases an extensive collection of various hammer types, exploring the history and significance of this essential tool through exhibits and displays.
Arizona – The Mystery Castle
Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the Mystery Castle is a unique dwelling constructed by a man named Boyce Luther Gulley. Built with recycled materials, it features unusual architecture, hidden passages, and a captivating story behind its creation.
Arkansas – Crater of Diamonds State Park
Located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, Crater of Diamonds State Park is a unique attraction where visitors have the opportunity to search for and keep the diamonds they find. It is the only diamond mine in the world where the public can prospect for diamonds. Visitors can explore the 37-acre plowed field, known as the “diamond search area,” armed with tools like shovels and sifters. The park offers exhibits and educational programs that delve into the geology and history of the area, providing an exciting and interactive experience for gem enthusiasts and curious travelers.
California – The Winchester Mystery House
Situated in San Jose, California, the Winchester Mystery House is a mansion renowned for its intriguing architecture. With its labyrinthine design, staircases leading to nowhere, and doors opening onto walls, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the eccentricities of its former owner, Sarah Winchester.
Colorado – UFO Watchtower
Located in Hooper, Colorado, the UFO Watchtower is a site dedicated to UFO sightings and other unexplained phenomena. It features observation platforms, a gift shop, and a collection of visitor-submitted stories, making it a destination for UFO enthusiasts and curious travelers.
Connecticut – The PEZ Visitor Center
Situated in Orange, Connecticut, the PEZ Visitor Center is a museum and factory tour dedicated to the iconic PEZ candy and dispensers. Visitors can learn about the history of PEZ, view displays of vintage dispensers, and even create their own custom PEZ dispensers.
Delaware – The Zwaanendael Museum
Located in Lewes, Delaware, the Zwaanendael Museum is designed in the architectural style of a 17th-century Dutch house. It explores the history of the ill-fated Zwaanendael Colony and showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the colony’s tragic past.
Florida – Coral Castle Museum
Situated in Homestead, Florida, the Coral Castle Museum is a unique stone structure built by a Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnin. It features massive coral rock sculptures and is a testament to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its creator.
Georgia – The Babyland General Hospital
An attraction in Cleveland, Georgia, the Babyland General Hospital is the birthplace of the beloved Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. Visitors can explore the hospital-themed displays, witness doll deliveries, and even adopt their own Cabbage Patch Kid.
Hawaii – Dole Plantation Maze
Located in Wahiawa, Hawaii, the Dole Plantation Maze is a challenging labyrinth made of Hawaiian plants. Visitors can test their navigation skills as they attempt to find their way through the lush greenery.
Idaho – Idaho Potato Museum
An interesting attraction in Idaho is the “Idaho Potato Museum” located in Blackfoot. This museum is dedicated to celebrating the humble potato, which is an important crop in Idaho. Inside, visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the history, cultivation, and importance of potatoes in Idaho’s agriculture. You’ll find displays of antique farming equipment, potato-themed artwork, and even the world’s largest potato chip. The museum also offers interactive exhibits, including a simulated potato harvest experience. Additionally, there is a gift shop where you can purchase various potato-related items and souvenirs. It’s a unique and educational destination that pays homage to Idaho’s agricultural heritage and its love for potatoes.
Illinois – Leaning Tower of Niles
Located in Niles, Illinois, the Leaning Tower of Niles is a unique replica of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. Built in 1934 as part of a recreational park, the tower stands at approximately half the size of its Italian counterpart. The structure leans at an angle, adding to its charm and intrigue. The Leaning Tower of Niles has become an iconic landmark and a symbol of the town. Visitors can appreciate the architectural curiosity, take photographs, and learn about the history of the tower through nearby plaques. It offers a delightful and unexpected twist to the Illinois landscape, inviting travelers to marvel at its whimsical presence.
Indiana – The Rotary Jail Museum
Situated in Crawfordsville, Indiana, the Rotary Jail Museum is a unique historical site that was once a functioning rotary jail. Built in 1882, it features a rotating cellblock design that allowed the jailer to access each cell without entering. Visitors can explore the museum and learn about the history of the jail, its operation, and the stories of the prisoners who were once held there. The museum also showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the criminal justice system of the time, providing a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Iowa – American Gothic House
Located in Eldon, Iowa, the American Gothic House is an iconic house made famous by Grant Wood’s renowned painting “American Gothic.” The house is an excellent example of the Carpenter Gothic architectural style. Visitors can explore the house, which now serves as a museum, and view replicas of the pitchfork and the iconic couple depicted in the painting. The museum offers exhibits on Grant Wood’s life and work, as well as the history and cultural impact of the painting. It is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and fans of American art history.
Kansas – World’s Largest Ball of Twine
Cawker City, Kansas, is home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Built by a local resident, the ball continues to grow as visitors add more twine to it, making it a quirky and ever-expanding attraction.
Kentucky – The National Quilt Museum
Located in Paducah, Kentucky, the National Quilt Museum is dedicated to the art of quilting. It showcases an extensive collection of quilts as an artistic medium, highlighting the intricate designs, craftsmanship, and cultural significance of these textile creations.
Louisiana – The Museum of Voodoo
Situated in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Museum of Voodoo offers insights into the history, practices, and beliefs associated with voodoo. Visitors can explore exhibits featuring artifacts, rituals, and the cultural impact of voodoo in New Orleans.
Maine – International Cryptozoology Museum
Found in Portland, Maine, the International Cryptozoology Museum is dedicated to the study of hidden or unknown animals, such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. The museum exhibits artifacts, evidence, and information related to cryptozoology.
Maryland – Edgar Allan Poe’s Gravesite and Memorial
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the gravesite and memorial of Edgar Allan Poe pay homage to one of the most celebrated and influential American writers. Poe’s final resting place is in Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, where visitors can find his gravesite marked by a prominent monument. The memorial features a life-size statue of Poe, capturing his brooding and enigmatic presence. It has become a pilgrimage site for literature enthusiasts and fans of Poe’s haunting works, offering a place to reflect on his enduring literary legacy.
Massachusetts – Witch House
Located in Salem, Massachusetts, the Witch House, also known as the Jonathan Corwin House, is an iconic historical landmark associated with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. It is the only remaining structure directly tied to the witchcraft hysteria of that era. The Witch House serves as a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the daily life, culture, and beliefs of the time. Inside, you can explore period furnishings, artifacts, and exhibits related to the infamous trials, providing insight into this dark chapter in American history. It is a significant destination for those interested in colonial history and the Salem Witch Trials.
Michigan – Mystery Spot
Situated in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Mystery Spot is a popular roadside attraction known for its gravity-defying phenomenon. Visitors to the Mystery Spot experience strange gravitational and optical illusions that appear to defy the laws of physics. Balls roll uphill, people appear to change heights, and objects seem to defy gravity. The site offers guided tours that explain the history, theories, and science behind the strange occurrences. It’s a fun and mind-boggling destination for those seeking a unique and puzzling experience in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula.
Minnesota – The SPAM Museum
Located in Austin, Minnesota, the SPAM Museum is dedicated to the history and popularity of SPAM. It features interactive exhibits, displays, and artifacts that explore the cultural impact of this iconic canned meat.
Mississippi – The Mississippi Petrified Forest
Located in Flora, Mississippi, the Mississippi Petrified Forest is a fascinating natural attraction featuring a preserved ancient forest turned to stone. This unique forest dates back over 36 million years and showcases petrified logs and tree stumps that have transformed into colorful, mineralized fossils. Visitors can explore the forest on designated trails, marvel at the petrified wood specimens, and learn about the geological processes that created this extraordinary natural wonder. The site also offers a museum with exhibits on fossils, geology, and the history of the forest. It is a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts, fossil collectors, and those interested in Earth’s ancient history.
Missouri – The Kansas City Workhouse Castle
Situated in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kansas City Workhouse Castle is a castle-like building that was once a prison. It now serves as a historic reminder of the city’s past and stands as an architectural landmark.
Montana – Montana Vortex and House of Mystery
Situated in Columbia Falls, Montana, the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery is an intriguing and perplexing attraction. The site features a natural vortex, an area where the laws of physics seem to be distorted. Visitors can experience strange phenomena such as height distortions, unexplained changes in size, and unusual optical illusions. The House of Mystery, located within the vortex area, adds to the mystery with slanted floors and walls that create a disorienting sensation. Guided tours explain the science behind the phenomena and offer an engaging and mind-bending experience for curious visitors. It is a destination that challenges perceptions and leaves visitors questioning the nature of reality.
Nebraska – Carhenge
Located in Alliance, Nebraska, Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge created with vintage cars. It serves as a whimsical and artistic tribute, offering visitors an unusual and memorable roadside attraction.
Nevada – The International Car Forest of the Last Church
Situated in Goldfield, Nevada, the International Car Forest of the Last Church is an art installation featuring cars buried nose-first in the ground and covered in graffiti, creating a visually striking and surreal environment.
New Hampshire – Clark’s Trading Post
Located in the town of Lincoln, New Hampshire, Clark’s Trading Post is a family-friendly attraction that offers a unique blend of entertainment and nostalgia. It is known for its trained bear shows, where visitors can watch black bears perform various tricks and stunts. Additionally, Clark’s Trading Post features a steam locomotive ride, a historic Main Street with shops and museums, and interactive exhibits that showcase New Hampshire’s logging history. The attraction offers a delightful mix of old-fashioned charm, live entertainment, and educational experiences, making it a favorite destination for families and visitors of all ages.
New Jersey – Lucy the Elephant
Situated in Margate City, New Jersey, Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped building. Originally built as a real estate gimmick in the late 19th century, it now serves as a beloved and iconic landmark.
New Mexico – The UFO Museum and Research Center
Located in Roswell, New Mexico, the UFO Museum and Research Center explores the infamous Roswell UFO incident through exhibits, documents, and eyewitness accounts. It delves into the history and theories surrounding the event, making it a popular destination for UFO enthusiasts and curious visitors.
New York – Museum of Sex
Located in the heart of Manhattan, New York, the Museum of Sex is a unique museum dedicated to exploring and celebrating human sexuality. The museum features a wide range of exhibits, interactive installations, and educational displays that examine the cultural, historical, and scientific aspects of human sexuality. From art and photography to artifacts and multimedia presentations, the museum offers thought-provoking and sometimes provocative insights into the diverse aspects of human sexual expression. It aims to foster understanding, dialogue, and exploration of this fundamental aspect of human experience. The Museum of Sex offers a distinctive and engaging perspective on a subject often considered taboo, making it an intriguing and enlightening destination for adult audiences.
North Carolina – The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Situated in Hatteras, North Carolina, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum focuses on the maritime history of the Outer Banks. It highlights shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the rich maritime heritage of the region.
North Dakota – The Enchanted Highway
Located near Regent, North Dakota, the Enchanted Highway is a stretch of road featuring a collection of large-scale roadside sculptures. Each sculpture showcases whimsical and fantastical artwork, adding a touch of magic to the journey.
Ohio – The American Sign Museum
Housed in Cincinnati, Ohio, the American Sign Museum preserves and showcases vintage signs, neon lights, and other signage artifacts from the past. It offers a nostalgic journey through the history of commercial signage and graphic design.
Oklahoma – The Blue Whale of Catoosa
Situated in Catoosa, Oklahoma, the Blue Whale is a giant blue whale sculpture that was originally part of a roadside attraction. It has since become a nostalgic landmark and a popular spot for visitors to relax and take photos.
Oregon – The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery
Located in Portland, Oregon, Mill Ends Park holds the distinction of being recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest park. This unique park, measuring just over two feet in diameter, features a single tree as its centerpiece. Situated on a median strip in the middle of a road, the park has become a charming symbol of Portland’s quirky spirit. Despite its small size, Mill Ends Park has captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike, serving as a delightful reminder of the city’s playful and unconventional nature.
Pennsylvania – The Mütter Museum
Situated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Mütter Museum is a medical museum that houses a unique collection of medical oddities, anatomical specimens, and historical medical equipment. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of medicine and human anatomy.
Rhode Island – Newport Tower and Channing Statue
Located in Tauro Park in Newport, Rhode Island, the Newport Tower is a mysterious stone structure shrouded in history and speculation. Believed by some to be a remnant of a medieval tower or an ancient Viking artifact, the tower’s origins remain a subject of debate. It stands as an enigmatic landmark that invites visitors to ponder its purpose and origins.
Adjacent to the Newport Tower in Tauro Park is the Channing Statue, dedicated to the renowned Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing. The statue pays tribute to Channing’s influential role in shaping religious and intellectual thought in America. It stands as a commemoration of his contributions to philosophy and social reform.
Together, the Newport Tower and Channing Statue offer visitors an intriguing mix of historical intrigue and cultural significance, making Tauro Park a destination that combines curiosity, history, and appreciation for influential figures in Newport’s past.
South Carolina – South of the Border
Found in Hamer, South Carolina, South of the Border is a roadside complex featuring colorful billboards, shops, and restaurants with a Mexican theme. It offers a kitschy and playful atmosphere that has made it a popular tourist stop.
South Dakota – The Corn Palace
Situated in Mitchell, South Dakota, the Corn Palace is a building adorned with murals made entirely from corn and other grains. It serves as a tribute to the region’s agricultural heritage and is a unique and vibrant attraction.
Tennessee – Underground Lake in Lost Sea Cave
Located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, the Lost Sea Cave is home to an extraordinary underground lake, recognized as America’s largest underground lake. Visitors to the Lost Sea Cave can embark on guided tours that take them deep into the cave system, where they can witness the breathtaking beauty of the underground lake. The lake’s clear, blue waters are surrounded by stunning geological formations, creating a mesmerizing subterranean landscape. Visitors have the opportunity to take a boat ride on the lake, explore the caverns, and learn about the cave’s rich history and geological significance. The Underground Lake in Lost Sea Cave offers an unforgettable adventure into the depths of Tennessee’s natural wonders.
Texas – Cadillac Ranch
Situated in Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch is an art installation featuring ten Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground. It invites visitors to contribute their own spray-painted graffiti, creating a colorful and ever-changing display.
Utah – Hole N” The Rock
Located in Moab, Utah, Hole N” The Rock is a unique residence carved into a massive rock formation. It offers visitors the chance to explore this unusual home, which includes a gift shop, a museum, and even an animal park.
Vermont – Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
Found in Waterbury, Vermont, the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard is a whimsical site where discontinued flavors of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are playfully laid to rest. Visitors can stroll through the graveyard and reminisce about their favorite flavors.
Virginia – Garden of the Poe Museum
Situated in Richmond, Virginia, the Garden of the Poe Museum is a serene and atmospheric outdoor space that surrounds the Poe Museum. The garden offers a tranquil retreat where visitors can immerse themselves in the ambiance and beauty of the surroundings. It features walkways, lush greenery, and various plantings that evoke the spirit of Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works. The garden provides a peaceful setting for reflecting, contemplating, and appreciating Poe’s legacy. It serves as an extension of the museum, enhancing the overall experience for visitors seeking to connect with the renowned author and his haunting tales.
Washington – The Fremont Troll
Located under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, Washington, the Fremont Troll is a massive sculpture of a troll lurking beneath the bridge. It has become an iconic and whimsical attraction in the city.
West Virginia – The Mothman Museum
Located in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the Mothman Museum is dedicated to the legend and lore of the mysterious creature known as the Mothman. The museum showcases exhibits, artifacts, and information related to sightings, eyewitness accounts, and the cultural impact of the Mothman phenomenon. Visitors can explore displays, artwork, and documentaries that delve into the history, theories, and mythology surrounding this enigmatic creature. The Mothman Museum serves as a hub for enthusiasts and curious visitors seeking to unravel the mysteries and legends surrounding the Mothman sightings in West Virginia.
Wisconsin – The House on the Rock
Found in Spring Green, Wisconsin, the House on the Rock is a sprawling complex featuring an eclectic collection of antiques, automatons, and whimsical architectural designs. It offers visitors a unique and immersive experience in a fantastical environment.
Wyoming – Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum
Located in Rawlins, Wyoming, the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the state’s criminal justice system. The museum is housed in a historic prison that operated from 1901 to 1981, providing insight into the lives of inmates and the harsh realities of prison life during that era. Visitors can explore the cells, gallows, and other areas of the prison, and learn about notable inmates, riots, and escape attempts through exhibits and guided tours. The museum also sheds light on the pioneering efforts of Wyoming’s correctional system and its impact on the development of modern prisons. The Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum provides a unique and educational experience for those interested in the history of law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Wyoming.
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