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Are These the 20 Weirdest Places in America?

March 08, 2022

From unique natural phenomena to human-created peculiarities, we’ve assembled 20 utterly unforgettable stops to add to your next road trip.

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Photo: Travel Nevada

Plan a Visit You'll Never Forget

As the legendary oceanographer Don Walsh once said, “Exploration is curiosity put into action.” In his case, that meant going where no one had gone before. In this case, we’ve pulled together fanciful, beautiful and just plain unusual places to indulge your curiosity — and we strongly suggest you follow in our footsteps. (If you experience coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, go ahead and skip Nevada’s Clown Motel, pictured above. But you get our drift.) Read on for an itinerary that’s truly one-of-a-kind.

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Photo: Idaho Tourism

The Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho

This spud-centric destination offers much more than the inevitable backdrop for your next holiday-card photo. Home to the world’s largest potato chip (or crisp, if we’re being technical, since it’s a Pringle), a cafe serving every potato-related delicacy you can imagine (and many you surely haven’t), a Potato Lab teeming with hands-on science experiments and all the history you can dig, the Idaho Potato Museum is the single-subject stop you didn’t know you needed.

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Photo: Jeff Davis Parish Tourist Commission/Gator Chateau

Gator Chateau in Jennings, Louisiana

Eco-conscious swamp tours are an excellent way to spend a day or two, but let’s be honest: Some of us just dream of holding a baby gator. For that very specific experience, head 170 miles west of New Orleans to the Jeff Davis Parish Visitor Center, where the Gator Chateau — a hands-on educational facility that collaborates with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries — raises hatchlings from the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. (When the gators reach a length of 7 to 7.5 feet, they’re released back into the Refuge.) Visits from the public are free, and visitors can hold baby gators under the supervision of gator handlers. At present, the facility houses four hatchlings, nine alligators and Pierre, an 86-year-old alligator snapping turtle. The dream is alive.

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Photo: Travel Portland

Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon

Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Smallest Dedicated Park, Mill Ends Park — which boasts a total area of 452 square inches — is located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway in downtown Portland. The micro-recreation area was inspired by Dick Fagan, a columnist for the Oregon Journal, who wrote a popular column about the park’s “events” after World War II, and it’s been an official city park since St. Patrick’s Day 1976. Mill Ends has featured a swimming pool and diving board for butterflies, statues and a miniature Ferris wheel (“brought in by a normal-sized crane,” per the Parks and Recreation Department) and hosted concerts, picnics and rose plantings. If you’re visiting Portland and have a few minutes to spare, we would note that “I once ran 30 laps around a city park without stopping for water” is a pretty solid brag.

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