When you go on vacation, you don’t always want to do the typical sightseeing tours. Let’s be honest, if you’ve seen one zoo, you’ve basically seen them all. Fortunately, America is full of strange attractions for those who prefer something more offbeat. Here are some bizarre places that will leave you with an interesting story to tell.
Leila’s Hair Museum – Independence, MO
When you hear the words “hair museum”, you’re probably expecting to learn how hair care and styling tools have evolved over time. But that’s not the experience you’ll get when you visit Leila’s Hair Museum. Instead, you’ll be surrounded by over 600 hair wreaths and 2,000 pieces of jewelry made of human hair. Yes, the same hair that grows from your scalp. Hair art sounds strange but it was very popular in the Victorian Era. Back then, giving someone a lock of your hair was a sign of love and devotion and often served as a keepsake. The owner Leila Cohoon is a former hairstylist who has been growing her collection since 1956. The museum contains an assortment of earrings, brooches, necklaces and other goodies.
Gum Wall – Seattle, WA
There are some attractions that are so ridiculous you have see it for yourself. Seattle’s Gum Wall is one of those places. Named the second germiest tourist attraction in America, this 50 ft. long and 15 ft. high wall is covered in previously chewed gum. The tradition started in the early 1990s and has taken off ever since. In 2015, the wall was scrubbed clean because the gum began eroding the bricks. In some parts, the gum was a few inches thick. It took workers 130 hours to remove over 2,350 pounds of the chewy substance. But just a few days later, gum chewers were back to start over. If you choose to partake in the tradition, we highly recommend bringing along some hand sanitizer.
Cross Island Chapel – Oneida, NY
The Cross Island Chapel wasn’t lying when they called themselves “The World’s Smallest Church”. The floor area measures less than 30 square feet and can only seat 2 people. It’s so small that if you blink you might miss it. The craziest part is that the church sits on a tiny wooden platform in the middle of a pond. In case you were wondering, they do occasionally hold weddings there, but you won’t be able to fit much more than the bride, groom and minister.
National Museum of Funeral History – Houston, TX
Death is something most people don’t even want to think about but in Houston, TX there’s a museum completely centered around it. The National Museum of Funeral History contains artifacts and replicas from various burial services. The goal is to educate visitors about how the funeral industry began and how it has transformed over the years. The museum currently has 14 permanent exhibits including the History of Embalming, A Life Well Lived: Fantasy Coffins from Ghana, Day of the Dead and more. They also have special exhibits like “The History of Cremation” which is opening sometime this year.
Winchester Mystery House – San Jose, CA
The Winchester House has a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in America. Rumor has it that Sarah Winchester felt like she was being haunted by ghosts, so she decided to see a psychic about it. During her visit, she was told that to keep the spirits away she’d have to move to the west coast, buy a house and start building non-stop. If she didn’t do as instructed, she’d die. Taking the mediums advice to heart, Sarah bought an eight-room house in California and hired a crew to work in shifts for 24-hours a day. Construction was said to have lasted from 1886 until 1922 and the home now has 160 rooms.
There wasn’t a building plan or blueprint for the property. Instead, Sarah communicated with the spirits nightly in the séance room and they’d tell her which rooms to work on next. The spirits probably weren’t too helpful though because the house is full of trap doors including one that leads to a two-story drop and staircases that lead nowhere. Another bizarre thing is that many of the homes features were designed around the number 13. There are 13 bathrooms (one of which has 13 windows), 13-step staircases and 13-paneled ceilings.
Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum – San Antonio, TX
Toilet seats and art aren’t two things you’d assume go together but Barney Smith has been making the combination work for over 50 years. Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum which is actually a garage, houses over 1,300 pieces of unique art. Each toilet seat is hand decorated with random items like Troll dolls, Pez dispensers, and ground hornets. His art is inspired by news events, travel destinations, music and a variety of other interests. Admission is free, but you do need to make an appointment. Please note, the collection is currently up for sale so move quickly or you’ll miss out.