Skip to main content

10 weirdest tourist attractions in the US

weirdest attractions in the USA

Most people will think of places like the Grand Canyon or New York City when wondering how best to spend their American holiday, but this vast, beautiful country is also home to some of the weirdest tourist attractions in the world too. 

If you’re a collector of bizarre experiences, or want to add a unique spin to your road trip across the States, then read on to find out about the 10 weirdest tourist attractions in the US!

Cano’s Castle

You can recognise Cano’s Castle from quite a while away. The four towers, built by Native American Vietnam veteran Dominic ‘Cano’ Espinoza, shine in the Colorado sun – a consequence of the fact most of the structure is built out of beer cans.

Although known as the ‘castle,’ the four columns are separate, each with their own chess-related name: ‘the king,’ ‘the queen,’ ‘the palace,’ and ‘the rook.’ ‘The King’ is by far the most iconic of Cano’s creations, with its sea of beer cans and hubcaps making it glimmer like a dream. As this is Colorado, it makes sense that the architect says one of his main influences for this bizarre tourist attraction is ‘vitamin Mary Jane.’

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Melissa Link | Solo Traveler + Hiker (@mellyinthemountains)

Leila’s Hair Museum

Without a doubt one of the weirdest tourist attractions in the US, Leila’s Hair Museum is surprisingly insightful considering its odd focus. The exhibits at the MiIssouri museum, run by Leila Cohoon, include more than 2,000 pieces of jewellery and nearly 500 wreaths woven out of human hair.

There are examples of hair being used in art going back well over 700 years, but most of the exhibits here are from the Victorian era, with some of the pieces being crafted as early as the 17th century. Is it a bit creepy? Sure. But is it also one of the most unique places to visit in the States? You betcha. 

Feeling inspired?

20 best places to visit in USA this year

20 best places to visit in USA this year

Read more

Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum

Everything is bigger in Texas, including their collection of toilet seat art, apparently. Once housed in a garage but now residing in the Truck Yard Bar & Grill in The Colony, this is a museum dedicated to – unsurprisingly – art on toilet seats, all 1,400+ pieces of which were created by the eponymous Barney Smith. The museum was moved from Smith’s home to the new venue in 2019, and is still free to view.

While this is certainly one of the weirdest tourist attractions in the US, Smith’s reasoning for his art is a message we can all get behind: he simply wanted to show people that things many consider trash might just be worth saving. Now that’s something worth saluting.

Winchester Mystery House

Known as one of the most haunted places in the States, this ingeniously designed house in San Jose, California, was once the home of Sarah Winchester, an heiress who gained a great fortune after her husband’s death. 

Winchester designed the house to have several unique architectural features, including Shakespeare quotes on the windows, stained glass, and an unusual layout that includes several hidden passageways. Basically, it’s the sort of place that would give a haunted house at a theme park a run for its money.

Its association with the occult and creepy happenings mostly came after Winchester’s death, and has stuck despite plenty of evidence showing that she didn’t really believe in that sort of thing. Some visitors have reported hearing ghostly music or seeing spirits, but even if you’re not one to delve into that realm, it’s still an intriguing place to visit – especially if you go for a guided tour.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by ⛦𝔍𝔢𝔰𝔰𝔦𝔢 𝔖𝔞𝔩𝔞𝔰⛦ (@solectic_witch13)

Paper House

Even though it rains fairly often in Rockport, Massachusetts, the seaside town is home to this incredible structure designed by American engineer Elis F. Stenman. Yes, it has wooden supports, but the walls were never fully constructed, leaving the insulation as the only barrier to the outside world. This was made from a combination of used newspapers and glue, which is how the house got its name.

There’s electricity and even a working fireplace (only the mantlepiece is newspaper, though), as well as furniture made from rolled up newspaper. What began as an experiment by Stenman to see the durability of this material has now become one of the state’s most beloved and weirdest tourist attractions.

Nuclear Waste Trail and Museum

America’s history with nuclear weapons is an infuriating one that has led to the displacement and death of thousands. But this huge pile of covered nuclear waste in Weldon, Missouri shows that at least something productive can come from that horrible past. The 54-acre spot was once full of factories that refined nuclear materials for bombs, until the area was abandoned, leaving all that radioactive rubbish. 

The government, in classic American fashion, waited two decades before covering the waste with a dome that should remain intact for at least a millennium. The site is inspected every year, and visitors can climb up the dome and see a view that wouldn’t be out of place in a state park. Just don’t think too hard about what’s below your feet!

Feeling inspired?

11 Best National Parks in the USA you need to visit at least once

11 Best National Parks in the USA you need to visit at least once

Read more

Bubblegum Alley

Sometimes it’s a good thing when an attraction doesn’t have a gift shop, and this is true of Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo, California. One of the weirdest tourist attractions in the States, this spot does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s an alleyway that is caked by years of used gum, leading to a colourful and somewhat gross experience.

There are a few stories about how the alley came to be, but the main theory is that it sprung from a local high school’s graduation tradition of sticking gum onto the wall. Either way, the 20 metre long attraction has brought a level of fame to San Luis Obispo which some residents despise, but many have grown to love.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Carmen Yang (@craveitwcarmz)

The Hole N” the rock

This weird tourist attraction in Utah began life as a 5,000-square foot home that had been carved into a rock, but now encompasses a petting zoo and gift shop. The house started as a small alcove made by Albert and Gladys Christensen so their sons would have somewhere interesting to sleep and adventure, but over the years became a mammoth structure that includes a 65-foot chimney and 14 rooms.

The Hole N” the Rock pays homage to the area’s native roots by selling the art and jewellery of local Indian artists in the gift shop, which is expansive and full of curiosities. The petting zoo is also home to some unique animals, including an albino raccoon!

World’s Largest Chest of Drawers

Massive, useless, and iconic, the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers was built in High Point, California to draw attention to the fact the town was a hotbed of furniture production. Nowadays the chest itself is the area’s main pull, and, like all great American icons, has even been parodied by The Simpsons

Aside from getting great perspective pictures, there really isn’t much else to do around the chest of drawers. Yet, it remains one of the most popular and weirdest tourist attractions in the country, and will probably do so for the foreseeable future. Plus, the two “socks” hanging out of the drawers look pretty comfortable.

Feeling inspired?

Is this the best road trip in the USA?

Is this the best road trip in the USA?

Read more

The House on the Rock

Spite has driven a lot in this world, and The House on the Rock is (according to some accounts) one such example. Alex Jordan Jr. is said to have built the house as a rebuttal to the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright after the latter told him that he “wouldn’t hire you [Jordan Jr.] to design a cheese grater.” Though this story is highly likely to be false, The House of the Rock is still an astounding complex to visit, while also being one of the weirdest tourist attractions in the world.

There’s a lot going on in the compound, and it’s not very cohesive in terms of themes. However, it’s definitely a great place to wander for a few hours, so if you’re in Wisconsin then it’s worth a visit.

Up next

Stop dreaming and make sh*t happen!

USA Road Trip

1 country, 23 days

USA Road Trip

View trip
Best of USA

1 country, 13 days

Best of USA

View trip
North East Highlights

1 country, 7 days

North East Highlights

View trip