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16 super bizarre landmarks to visit in the U.S.

Try these quirky sites because this kind of travel can't go wrong

Written by
Sarah Medina
Scott Snowden
Erika Mailman

Certain destinations have a built-in braggability factor—Paris and pretty much any tropical Caribbean beach—but when you come back from vacation and tell people you saw the world’s largest mailbox: well, you’re definitely a top-tier traveler. America’s got so many funny, kitschy, unusual landmarks (yes, we’ll roll out the word “bizarre”) and they are calling out to you to find your way to them. Anyone can get a shot of a sunset with palm trees, but when your Instagram is filled with 139 skulls from the Mütter Museum’s skull wall or shots of you hamming it up with autographed hot dog buns in Toledo, you’ve gained credibility as an intrepid voyager. Please embark right away with high spirits and get those amazed-face emojis ready.

Famous weird landmarks in the U.S.

Just outside of Montgomery on the Alabama River, you’ll find a Tim Burton wonderland on a privately owned island. The production company behind the movie Big Fish built the fictitious town of Spectre here back in the early 2000s and decided to leave it up after filming. For a small fee, visitors to Jackson Lake Island can follow Ewan McGregor’s footsteps through the town square to the rundown church, to the remaining styrofoam trees from the haunted forest and even hang a pair of shoes off the clothesline. Best part? Goats roam the island, too.

  • Museums
  • Natural history
  • Miracle Mile

Come see where animals of yore ambled over—and became stuck, forever, in tar. Their predators would see them struggling, come over to partake in the easy feast, and become stuck themselves. It’s actually pretty awful to contemplate, yet fascinating. Paleontologists have been able to recover around 1 million bones from the tar pit, including from a mammoth, dire wolves, saber tooth cats and one unlucky woman. Walk the outdoor park to sniff the signature sulphuric smell and see pits that are still being excavated, then head into the Page Museum to check out the incredible collection of items found in the pits.

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centers
  • South Beach

Don’t bring the family to this Miami museum devoted to all kinds of X-rated art (it's only open to 18+). Billed as the only institution that exclusively shows fine erotic art in the entire country, the World Erotic Art Museum has a renowned collection of antique sex toys, carved phalluses and nudes by Picasso and Rembrandt. Just thinking about exploring the 12,000-square-foot space is enough to make you blush. 

The Madonna Inn on the central California coast is the epitome of kitsch. Built by Alex and Phyllis Madonna in 1958, the hotel supposedly has a Swiss Alps theme, but in reality, seems dedicated to all things over the top. Each of the 110 rooms is decorated in a unique theme—the Caveman has faux rock walls and a waterfall shower while the Pony Room has bright red carpets and prominently features a carousel horse statue. You certainly won’t forget a stay here.


One of the world’s largest plant mazes is located on the Dole Pineapple Plantation on the north shore of Oahu. More than two miles of paths wind through the hedges of 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants such as hibiscus, heliconia and pineapples, of course. The maze itself from the air includes a pineapple shape. Most people complete the maze in about an hour, but this couple did it in five minutes, sprinting. 

Whether you believe the tour guide’s schtick about the supposed “gravitational anomaly” at work at this roadside attraction or not, the tilted cabin that seemingly defies the laws of physics is still fun to visit. Even skeptics will have a blast exploring the curious shack where balls appear to roll uphill and chairs seem to sit on walls. Not convinced? See if you can puzzle out the reason behind this optical illusion for bonus points. 


This small town in Illinois is home to not one, not two, but 12 of the world’s largest objects, including a rocking chair, mailbox, gavel, wind chime and golf tee, plus a slew of really big things. Resident Jim Bolin installed the first piece, the wind chime, in 2011 and things snowballed from there. Bolin thought a public art installation (titled Big Things in a Small Town) might help bring in some tourists. His theory seems to be working, and the attractions are all free to visit. 

  • Attractions
  • Historic buildings and sites

This New England town’s dark past draws urban witches and history buffs from all over the country. Learn about the infamous Witch Trials of 1692 with a visit to the Witch House. This 17th-century home was owned by James Corwin, a local merchant who presided over many of the witchcraft examinations. The self-guided tours offer a great primer on both the country’s largest witch hunt and early colonial life.

  • Shopping
  • Jewelry
  • Logan Square

The Busy Beaver Button Co. has produced tens of millions of shiny pins and buttons since it opened in 1995. They’ll still gladly make you any design you desire, but shopping isn't the only reason to visit the Chicago store. Art lovers and culture vultures will also want to check out the eponymous museum. Scope out the collection of more than 9,000 historical pin-back buttons, including concert memorabilia and political campaign collateral.

  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • Fenway/Kenmore

You’ll find another of the world’s largest items inside the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston: The world’s largest walk-in globe. The Mapparium is a three-story spherical model of a globe built to scale out of brightly-hued stained glass. Stand at one edge of the glass bridge that bisects the interior of the globe and whisper something to a friend at the other end. Since the glass walls amplify sound, they’ll be able to hear you loud and clear. Built in 1935 and representing the world at that time, it has some outdated country names, so this registers as a historical artifact as well.


Deep in the middle of the barren Nevada desert, you’ll find Area 51, the top-secret installation that has been shrouded in mystery for decades. Little is known about what goes on inside, except that the military developed and tested spy planes at the base during the Cold War—this is the site of a U.S. Air Force base specializing in experimental aircraft, after all. The secrecy combined with strange sightings leaving Area 51 led to countless rumors of UFO sightings, alien abductions and other extraterrestrial activities over the years. Curious visitors and alien enthusiasts should check out the Alien Research Center.

If you're planning a coast-to-coast road trip and have decided to incorporate Route 66 , you'll want to make this one weird and wonderful pit stop: Tony Packo's authentic Hungarian restaurant. Why? Because every wall of the eatery's interior is covered with autographed hot dog buns. Burt Reynolds signed the first one, and now there are more than 1,500, all in display cases. Everyone from Debbie Reynolds to Stevie Nicks and Steve Martin has somehow, at some time, visited this obscure restaurant and signed one.

  • Museums
  • Science and technology
  • Center City West

If you’re the squeamish type, you better avoid the Mütter Museum. It’s jampacked with human specimens, stomach-churning medical objects and more bones than you could imagine. Think you can handle it? Don’t miss the slices of Albert Einstein’s brain, the Hyrtl Skull Collection of 139 human heads, or the corset skeleton which shows what Victorian corsetry may have done to ribcages.

  • Attractions
  • Libraries, archives and foundations
  • Congress Ave District

In the tradition of old-school curio museums, the Museum of the Weird celebrates oddities like shrunken heads, wax movie monsters and the Minnesota Iceman, a carnival exhibit of a “caveman” trapped in a block of ice. The museum also added a photograph of the infamous Cottingley Fairies to its collection in recent years. It’s only fitting that such a museum would be in Austin—the city’s unofficial slogan (predating Portland by a year!) is “Keep Austin Weird,” after all.


Not far from Yakima you’ll find the city of Granger with the tagline, “where dinosaurs roam.” Its Dinosaur Drive welcomes you to drive around town and see various dinosaurs. Fittingly, the first dinosaur was a baby brontosaurus and now there are 33 dinosaurs, typically constructed and painted by the community at a “Dino-n-a-Day” work day at Hisey Park. Catch the pleiosaurus in the park’s pond or the nearby dimetrodon, see the apatosaurus positioned by a tree to “eat” its greenery, or thrill at the sight of a T-Rex busting through the side of a building. Strong bonus: in the park you can see volcanoes that once used to spew smoke (they house non-operational bathrooms).

Just outside of Pittsburgh in McCandless Township, you can experience this wild road that defies gravity. At a particular intersection, you’ll stop at a stop sign and put your car into neutral and then wait for your skin to crawl. Because instead of your car rolling forward, downhill, as it should, it will start to move backward, up the hill. Why? How? We don't know, but check your rearview mirror before doing this, or the anomaly could become an accident. Watch this video to see Gravity Hill in action. More wierdness? There is also water that flows the wrong way.

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