Thursday favorites: Wacky destinations

Having been on the road for a couple of weeks, I’m struck once again by the fantastic number of truly wacky things there are to see out there. Not just cow chip bingo, but the many other random monuments to kitsch, creativity and questionable taste.

Herewith, a few notable examples from recent travels, and some from further back in the mists of time.

Gold Hill, OR: The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery


The official website declares this “a glimpse of a strange world where the improbable is the commonplace and everyday physical facts are reversed.” Not sure about that, but there are definitely some excellent optical illusions at work here, if nothing else. And the House of Mystery sure is some wonky fun.

Portland, OR: The world’s smallest designated park.

This sign explains it all:

And here’s the park — that little grassy circle in the middle of this four-lane highway.

Friday Harbor, WA: the world’s skinniest latte shop

[Insert your own “skinny latte” joke here].

Yes, there are many such buildings around, including what is supposedly the world’s narrowest house in Alexandria, Virginia. But I’m a sucker for them every time. Look how skinny this place is! It’s nothing but a hallway!

And from the mists of time, a few animal-themed sights:

White Post, VA: Dinosaur Land

A wonderland of 1950s-era fiberglass dinosaurs. Fantastically cheesy. Undeniably delightful.

Dallas, TX: Cattle sculptures racing through downtown

What more explanation is needed?

Isla Mujeres, Mexico: Conch house

Fritters for dinner every night!

As I learned form my esteemed Uncle Red Dog, you don’t even have to go very far to find something wacky:

Finally, you could just follow this chick around. I saw her in San Francisco a couple years back and have wondered ever since where the wind blew her next.


What are some of your favorite wacky places?

12 responses to “Thursday favorites: Wacky destinations”

  1. Boy you’re good — I always like happening on wacky places, but I don’t really remember them to talk about later on. I will try and remember some.

    (Currently I am on the road in Burlington, MA, a distinctly non-wacky place. I like that I’m able to walk from the hotel where I’m staying to the office I’m working in; I dislike that the town planners have focussed on making that walk as difficult as possible, by inserting points where I need to scurry across major thoroughfares without aid of a traffic light or crosswalk. Lovely weather for walking though.)

  2. Marleyfan says:

    How do you ride a chain-saw?

  3. rm says:

    I hear the Palin crowd are buying up the old dinosaur road shows and making them creationfests-complete with cavemen riding them as domesticated beasts and the like.

  4. Dave says:

    How do you ride a chainsaw?

    Very carefully.

  5. O'Godfrey says:

    Swells and I visited the House of Mystery a few years back. We also stopped to pay Paul and Babe a visit at the Trees of Mystery in Klamath, CA. Mr. Bunyan actually speaks, and scolded Swells for sitting on his boot – true story. When we looked around for someone with a microphone, he said, “Creepy huh?”

    Okay, I can’t help it: How goddamn cute are RB’s knees?!

  6. LP says:

    2: I pondered this for a while before deciding it must be a race to chainsaw something in half. Like another guy riding a chainsaw or something.

    5: Ha! I like that Paul Bunyan has a sense of humor. He looks so dour. Did Babe the Blue Ox speak too? Because that would be TRULY mysterious.

    Also, I like that Roadside America lists “nearby offbeat places” at the bottom of each page. How else would we have known about the Big Motorized Scissors, or The Japanese Bombed Here Too?

  7. Tim says:

    I think I’ve mentioned it here before, but The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD is well worth a visit. And don’t forget Wall Drug on your next trip to SD. The doughnuts are really quite good.

  8. Jenomnibus says:

    I’m particularly fond of the Winchester Mystery House although I haven’t been there since I was a kid. All these stairways to nowhere….creepy!

  9. Stella says:

    ah, dinosaur land where they are still selling postcards from their first postcard print run in the 1960s, with tinted blue skies and 1960s little girls standing bravely in front of the beasts.

  10. ruben says:

    David Foster Wallace-shocking and sad-one of my favorite essay writers.

  11. And no slouch as a novelist either for that matter. Here’s the commencement speech he gave two years ago at Kenyon College.

  12. Beth W says:

    The Oregon Vortex!!!
    My uncle lives just down the road, where it’s no longer paved.
    It is truly a place of mystery.