Posted by: Sara Huzar, Public Affairs Section Intern
Happy April Fool’s Day! In the spirit of fun, we’re highlighting nine crazy U.S. destinations you’ve probably never heard of.
1. The World’s Largest Artichoke
After miles of rolling green farmlands, travelers south of San Francisco may be surprised to see a different large green attraction out their windows. Castroville, California, appropriately nicknamed the “Artichoke Center of the World” is home to a twenty-foot tall, twelve-foot wide artichoke sculpture – the largest in the world.
Artichokes constitute a $50 million dollar industry for the town, and are celebrated with an annual artichoke festival, complete with the coronation of an artichoke queen. The first queen was a young girl named Norma Jean Baker, but she’s best known by the name she later adopted: Marilyn Monroe. http://www.weirdca.com/location.php?location=39
2. Gravity Hill
On an isolated stretch of road north of Prosser, Washington, there’s a hill where drivers can stop, put their car in neutral, and roll uphill instead of down.
There’s no proven explanation for why this happens, but many suggest that the surrounding landscape tilts one way, while the road tilts another, and the different angles trick your brain into thinking uphill is down.
Whatever the explanation, gravity hill has captured the imagination many Americans, and is one of the strangest places a traveler to the states can find. http://weirdus.com/states/washington/road_less_traveled/gravity_hill/index.php
3. The International Cryptozoological Museum
Tucked away in the town of Portland, Maine, is the world’s only museum dedicated to the niche science of cryptozoology. Cryptozoology literally means “the study of hidden life” studies mysterious animals like sasquatches, yetis, mermaids, and more.
The museum boasts attractions like hair from an Abominable Snowman, footprint casts of a Thylacine – an ancient marsupial thought to be extinct – and an entire exhibit dedicated to Lake Monsters. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer in its legendary creatures, the museum is full of things you won’t find anywhere else. http://cryptozoologymuseum.com/
4. The World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet
On the southwest edge of Vermont’s state capital, rising out of a field of weeds stands a forty-foot tall tower of rusty metal filing cabinets. Artist Bren Alvarez created the structure in 2002 by welding eleven cabinets together to make the rickety-looking stack. The tower contains thirty-eight drawers, one for every year of bureaucratic work required to get the project started. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/8782
5. The World’s Largest Holstein Cow
New Salem, North Dakota
Towering over the flat fields of North Dakota, atop the only hill visible for miles stands an unusual landmark. Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow, has been a staple of the New Salem, North Dakota skyline since she was erected in 1974 as a monument to its booming dairy industry. Sue’s fiberglass frame is thirty-eight feet tall, fifty feet long, and weighs 12,000 pounds, so large that she had to be carried uphill in three separate pieces and assembled at the top.
Sue isn’t alone. North Dakota is known for its larger-than-life sculptures, including the world’s largest buffalo, the world’s largest baseball bat, and a twenty-six foot tall turtle named Tommy riding a snowmobile. http://www.newsalem-nd.com/salem-sue.html
6. Aurora Ice Museum
Always dreamt of seeing the world’s largest year round ice structure? Aurora Ice Museum certainly looks like something from a dream. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling, changing color to imitate the northern lights. Visitors walk among chess sets and jousting knights all sculpted from nearly 1,000 tons of ice and snow.
Originally, the museum was supposed to be a hotel, and it still has three ice rooms with ice beds to sleep on. No one, however, has managed to stay a whole night. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/aurora-ice-museum
7. World’s Largest Peanut Monument
Georgia is nuts about peanuts, something fans of Jimmy Carter, the only president born in that state, may have noticed. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Ashburn, Georgia boasts the World’s Largest Peanut Monument. This nut is not, in fact, dedicated to former President Carter, though his hometown does have one in his honor. Instead, it stands in memory of Nora Lawrence Smith, a pioneering female journalist who called the state home. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2071
8. Mütter Museum
Philadelphia holds a lot to tempt tourist, but one attraction you might not have heard of, is the Mütter Museum.
The Mütter Museum markets itself as a “museum of medical history,” but locals know it as the place to see some of science’s strangest sights. Inside, you can see a the conjoined liver of famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng, a collection of 139 human skulls, and preserved sections of Albert Einstein’s brain. Those who aren’t too squeamish to visit come away, as the museum puts it “disturbingly informed.” http://muttermuseum.org/
9. The Center of the Universe
For centuries, physicists have pondered mysteries at the center of the universe. Who among them could have guessed it would be an concrete circle in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma? Locals gave this unassuming patch of the city its auspicious name because of an acoustic phenomenon. Someone who stands at the center of the circle and makes a noise will hear it echoed back to them several times louder but anyone outside the circle won’t be able to hear it at all.
Some theorize that the echo results from sound bouncing off the raised planters nearby. However, there are those that think the distorted sound is the byproduct of our dimension colliding with a parallel one. http://www.tulsaworld.com/weekend/music/what-is-tulsa-s-center-of-the-universe-landmark/article_9b843716-a654-54d4-8591-f29dc7fd5513.html