17 October 2020
America’s Weirdest Tourist Attractions
There’s no other country in the world that has as large a collection of weird and wacky tourist attractions as the United States. No matter which state you’re in, you’ll probably find something fascinating that you wouldn’t imagine had existed like attractions dedicated to hair, paper, and even nuclear waste. If you can think it up, odds are that you can find it in America’s vast array of oddball tourist attractions. We’ve found some of the best ones we could and listed them out for you. Check them out and let us know which of these you find the most shocking.
International Banana Museum
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the International Banana Museum has the world’s largest collection of banana-related items. You can visit the museum dedicated to the single fruit while in Mecca, California. Be sure to allocate a lot of time since they have over 25,000 collectibles on display. Other interesting things to do include dressing up in their fun banana wear and posing for pictures in front of their giant banana statue, purchasing some awesome banana merchandise, and stopping by the banana bar for their popular banana milkshake, homemade banana ice cream, and many other treats.
The Hammer Museum
The hammer is one of the most common household items and you’d never imagine that someone would dedicate an entire museum to the otherwise ordinary tool – but that’s exactly what you would find in Haines, Alaska. There are over 2,000 hammers and related artifacts on display, with over 8,000 more in their storage – making it the world’s largest collection of hammers. You’ll find a hammer that dates back to Roman times and another that crafted the Pyramid of Menkaure. The museum preserves the history of this versatile tool that impacted various aspects of our nation’s history while also exhibiting how different industries use hammers to this day.
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
Often called “the world’s only museum dedicated to salt and pepper shakers”, the Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, Tennessee was the brainchild of one archaeologist. After falling in love with the history of how salt and pepper shakers came to be and learning about many creators and artists who have put their own spin on it, the museum was born. After 25 years of collecting and curating, the museum has over 20,000 sets of shakers from all over the world; you’ll find thousands of varieties, some of which date back to the 1500s.
Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum
Out of all the weird tourist attractions we’ve got on this list, Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum is one of my absolute favorites. What makes it even better is that the museum dedicated to toilet seats was created by a retired master plumber – the irony! The museum is housed in San Antonio, Texas, and has nearly 1,500 toilet seats that Barney Smith converted to works of art over the years. Some of them are media tributes from when Barney would visit shows as a guest while there are others dedicated to random things like Star Wars or cosmetic dentistry.
A humorous replica of the famous Stonehenge in England, Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska comprises sculptures created from cars and car parts. The attraction was built during the 1980s by Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father, who loved cars and everything car-related. Placed in a circle, resembling Stonehenge, the attraction comprises 39 vintage American automobiles all of which are painted a matte gray – the heel stone is a 1962 Cadillac. Additional aspects include artworks created from car parts and the entire attraction has appeared in many movies and television programs over the years.
Another unique tourist attraction dedicated to cars is the Cadillac Ranch. You’ll find it alongside the famous Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas, and is now one of the most iconic roadside attractions in the country. The art installation comprises ten Cadillacs, all of which are splattered in paint and graffiti and are half-buried nose-first in a row. The sculpture is the creation of Stanley Marsh III, a local millionaire who chose classic models dating from 1948 to 1963 – also considered the “Golden Age” of the American automobile.
World’s Largest Ball of Twine
I don’t know why large balls of twine fascinate Americans and visiting tourists alike, but don’t be surprised to find several attractions across the nation all claiming to have the “world’s largest ball of twine”. This particular one in Cawker City, Kansas seems to be the true holder of the title. It was started in 1953 by Frank Stoeber, and to this day they host a twine-a-thon where more twine is added to the mixture to ensure that it’s constantly growing larger. At its last weigh-in in 2013, the ball of twine weighed nearly 20,000 pounds.
Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum
Only in the United States will you find a tourist attraction dedicated to nuclear waste. Located in Missouri, the Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum is informative, historic, and offers really unique views spanning around 50 acres. Start your adventure in the museum’s Interpretive Center where you’ll get an understanding of how this site came to be from the largest explosives factory in the country to a towering mountain of radioactive uranium, mercury, and TNT – all entombed for your safety of course. Now, the site is popular for hiking, bird watching, star gazing, and much more.
Americans love a good UFO story and many of the sightings you’ll find in newspaper tabloids or even YouTube have been spotted from this location: July Messoline of Hooper in Colorado. Chosen for the energy vortexes that are found on the property, people come from far and wide to camp out at the observation tower and try to contact other lifeforms. Visitors also offer offerings to the aliens, buy unique gifts in the gift shop, or even host their very own UFO-themed weddings to celebrate in style.
Winchester Mystery House
When Sarah Winchester lost her husband and children, she spent the next 38 years renovating an unfinished farmhouse into a home of architectural oddities. Some say she built the house as a way to pass the time and not go mad thinking of her deceased family while others have a more sinister theory which says she built the house to confuse the evil spirits that sought her out. Either way, the fascinating attraction pulls people of all ages with its miles of secret passageways, stairs, and doors that lead to nowhere or have hidden entries, and even a grand ballroom that was built using almost no nails. Some say that people still haven’t identified every single hidden oddity in the house. You’ll find the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California so if you happen to be in the area, be sure to stop by.
Leila’s Hair Museum
It’s an entire museum dedicated to hair so if even the thought of a hairball makes you heave, then Leila’s Hair Museum isn’t the right attraction for you. If you can get past the idea of hundreds of hair-based artifacts, you’ll find that Leila’s is actually quite amazing. Based in Independence, Missouri, it is the only museum in the world to feature over 2,000 pieces of jewelry and 600 different wreaths – all of which are made from human hair! Many of the hair comes down from the Victorian period, while you’ll even find celebrity hair artifacts to the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Michael Jackson.
World’s Largest Chest of Drawers
Another one of my favorites on this list, the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point, North Carolina is exactly what it sounds like: a large chest of drawers! The sculpture towers at 32 feet high and was originally built to mark the city as the ‘furniture capital of the world’. It is now a favorite photo stop for people who are passing through the area as it’s absolutely Insta-worthy – there are even not-so-little socks sticking out of the drawers!
The JELL-O Gallery Museum
Jell-O is one of America’s most famous desserts, rising to fame in the 50s and 60s as somewhat of a status symbol since only those with a refrigerator could make jello. Americans across the nation would present intricate molds as post-dinner desserts. Delve into this culinary phenomenon, delving into its history and learning about how it was produced and why it rose to fame at The JELL-O Gallery Museum. Housed in LeRoy, New York, the museum has original advertising art, collectibles like molds and spoons, toys, recipe books, and tons of memorabilia.
Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
Another one of America’s many dessert-related attractions, the Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard in Waterbury, Vermont offers a fun time for the entire family. The company has been a leader in the ice cream industry for years, and during that time, they’ve come up with a lot of different flavors. While some of these flavors have become popular favorites, there are several others that sometimes don’t make the cut. The Flavor Graveyard is a way for Ben and Jerry’s to pay tribute to those who never made it to mass production. You’ll see adorable resin headstones, each of which highlights the flavor along with clever commentary of “the lives they led”.
National Mustard Museum
No travel list of weird attractions in America is complete without mentioning the National Mustard Museum. An entire building in Middleton, Wisconsin is dedicated to the popular condiment, and visitors can spend hours browsing all the fun and interesting memorabilia detailing the creation of mustard, its history over the years, and relative media and advertising dedicated to it. You’ll see an array of items like vintage advertisements, antique tins and jars, and even over 5,000 mustards from all 50 states and over 70 different countries. Check out their calendar of events as well because they host several mustard-related competitions throughout the year that are fun for visitors of all ages.
The Museum of Bad Art
You may have been to the Museum of Fine Art or the Museum of Modern Art, but have you ever been to the Museum of Bad Art? Check that off your list the next time you’re in Massachusetts. MOBA, which is housed in several locations throughout the state, is dedicated to showcasing questionably good art. The collection has around 600 pieces but only around 60 of them are in rotation at exhibits at any given time; you can go in search of them each time you visit because it’s a new experience every single time. You’ll love reading the narrative available with each piece which delves into when the art was created, the artist behind the masterpiece, and more. Famous pieces include that of a cat daydreaming of a dog and of President Kennedy eating ice cream.
National Museum of Funeral History
And last but definitely not least on our list is the National Museum of Funeral History. Based in Houston, Texas, the museum is dedicated to the somber and grim world of funerals. You’ll see tons of funeral-related memorabilia, learn interesting facts, and be able to browse a collection of rare coffins and one-of-a-kind coffins. There are even a handful of recreations of famous figures in coffins along with memorabilia from celebrities and public figures like John Paul II, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson.