SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota
If you’re a lover of processed meats, the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota is calling your name. It features more than 16,000 feet of “SPAM artifacts, history and fun.” And if that wasn’t enough – it’s all for free.
“It actually started as an exhibit room in a mall in town,” Doug Kirby, publisher of RoadsideAmerica.com, told FoxNews.com. “We visited it when it was there, and then they eventually realized that the public was still clamoring to know more about the history of SPAM and processed meats, so they created a pretty lavish museum.”
National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, Texas
Hearses, caskets and the history of embalming – you’ll find it all at the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston.
“This is a really cool one,” said Kirby, who’s been visiting and writing about offbeat attractions for more than 25 years (click here to read his review). “You’ll see all the embalming equipment. It also has some very unusual caskets from other countries and an ornate hearse from Japan.”
And how apropo – the museum is located right next to a school for funeral directors.
The museum is open seven days a week and costs just $10.00 per adult.
Silvio's Italian American Historical Artistic Museum in Redford, Michigan
For the past 50 years, Silvio Luigi Barile, has paid homage to his Italian roots and his love for America by erecting sculptures all over his property.
“This is a guy who ran a bakery and a pizza parlor in a little storefront, and out back he created these elaborate statues and sculptures that he made, and it’s this mixture of American patriotic and Italian history combined with his religious beliefs,” Kirby said. “It’s not a traditional museum, and you really can’t enjoy it enough unless Silvio is there.”
So if you plan on visiting, call ahead to make sure Silvio will be there. You won’t want to miss his eclectic take on all things Italian and American.
Check out RoadsideAmerica.com’s tour of Silvio’s museum.
Kirby also recommends the Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood, Ohio.
Enchanted Highway in Regent, North Dakota
Where can you see a massive flock of metal geese, an entire “Tin Family” family and a 40-foot tall grasshopper? Look no further than the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota.
Created by local artist, Gary Greff, this stretch of roadway features some of the world’s largest metal sculptures.
“He lives in Regent and knew his town was dying off from just lack of people going there,” Kirby said. “It’s sort-of in this corner of the state that nobody goes to, so he decided he would come up with a way to draw tourism and attention to his little town. So he started building these monumental statues all along the road up to the interstate, and every couple of miles or so he’s built these statues.”
Yes, South Dakota may have Mount Rushmore, but North Dakota has the Enchanted Highway.
“Gary really did a very good job of pulling the center of gravity up towards his state. So we definitely recommend it.”
Cadillac Ranch along Old Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas
“This is a classic roadside installation by group of artists done decades ago – and people go out there and are encouraged to spray paint the Cadillacs,” Kirby said.
In all, there are 10 Cadillacs lined up in a vast field – all buried nose-deep in the dirt.
“What’s interesting about those (Cadillacs), is that they are so famous and so popular, that they’ve spawned a bunch of imitators all around them.”
For example, there’s “Combine City” located 11 miles south of Amarillo where old farm equipment is half buried in the ground.
But there’s nothing quite like Cadillac Ranch. As Kirby and his colleagues describe on their website, “Cadillac Ranch is more popular than ever. It's become a ritual site for those who travel The Mother Road. The smell of spray paint hits you from a hundred yards away; the sound of voices chattering in French, German, and UK English makes this one of the most polyglot places between the UN and Las Vegas.”
Funky places to stay
“Well, the classic is, you have to take a vacation where you sleep in a Wigwam,” Kirby said. “On Route 66, there’s a couple of places you can do that. There was a fad for a while of creating hotels with Wigwam villages, where each room was in the shape of a Teepee, and there are still a few of those out there.”
There’s one in Holbrook, Arizona and there’s also one in Cave City, Kentucky. There are also a few others dotted around the country.
Maybe you’re up for a little underwater adventure. If so, try Jule’s Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida – where guests have to dive more than 20-feet below the surface just to enter the underwater hotel.
The Chainsaw Show in Hancock, Maine
When you think of Maine, most likely lobster and the rugged coast comes to mind, but the next time you and the family head to Vacationland, Kirby recommends checking out Ray Murphy and his chainsaw show.
“He gets into a sound proof chamber and everybody sits in these bleachers to watch him do this very intricate chainsaw carving.”
Murphy, who claims to have invented “chainsaw art” in 1952, built a theater of sorts to display his craftsmanship that holds up to 400 people. He even carves one lucky audience member a belt buckle – while they’re wearing it! You can catch his act June through September.
“Part of taking friends and family to quirky places is their initial look of horror on their face when you tell them where you want to take them,” Kirby joked. “Later on, the payoff is that they realize it was worth it, and it’s usually the one thing they end up talking about the most.”
The next time you’re on a road trip and see a billboard on the side of the highway for a totally oddball attraction – take the exit – because you never know where the adventure will lead you. That’s the advice from Doug Kirby, publisher of RoadsideAmerica.com, who gave us the lowdown on some of America’s most unique destinations.