I really love roadside attractions and quirky little museums–and I’m fascinated by the people who run them. This was one of the inspirations for my new novel, The Taste of Desert Green, in which one character owns a dinosaur/outer space themed museum in the middle of the Mojave. Sadly, Wally Harlow’s Fossil Galaxy exists only in my imagination. But here are some real places I’ve visited and enjoyed!

  • Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery: where objects seem to roll uphill, etc.
  • Winchester Mystery House: built by the Winchester rifle heiress, it’s huge and… weird
  • Icelandic Phallological Museum: a penis museum in Reykjavik, and it is amazing
  • Meteor Crater: a big old hole in the ground, over 1.2K in diameter. There’s a space museum there too.
  • Cadillac Ranch: an art project. A bunch of cars stuck upright in a field outside Amarillo, Texas. You get to cover them in spray paint
  • Carhenge: more cars in the ground, this time as a scale model of Stonehenge, in very rural Nebraska
  • Maryhill Stonehenge: another Stonehenge, this one to scale and made of cement, in rural Washington. The nearby Maryhill Museum is also extremely cool
  • Museum of Broken Relationships: the original is in Zagreb. People have donated items from past romantic and other relationships, and little cards tell their stories
  • Jerome, Arizona: this is a tiny former mining town, where the jail slid down the hill, the hotel is in the old hospital, and you can stand above a 1900-foot-deep mineshaft
  • Neon Museum: at this place in Vegas, they’ve collected old neon casino signs. Visit at night!
  • Vancouver Police Museum: includes the old city morgue
  • Mutter Museum: medical museum chock-full of specimens
  • Wyoming Frontier Museum: the former Wyoming State Penitentiary
  • Trees of Mystery: giant redwoods and Paul Bunyan

Are there quirky museums or roadside attractions near you? Have you visited some good ones on your travels? Please share in the comments!

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