Monday, September 10, 2012

The Most Unique Locations to Visit in the USA

For families seeking one-of-a-kind vacation destinations or unusual road-trip stops, the USA abounds with suitably unique locations. While nearly everyone has heard of popular examples like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon, many lesser-known unique vacation destinations exist as well. Whether you’re seeking one-of-a-kind natural wonders, man-made attractions, or classic American kitsch, the US features a wide range of unusual travel venues in each of these categories. Since naming all qualifying attractions would likely prove impossible, this article provides a sampling of truly unique American locations from each category.

Unique Natural Wonders 

Geographically, the US constitutes a vast and varied land featuring many unusual natural phenomena. The government has preserved many such attractions in national parks and monuments that merit a visit

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Located in southern Idaho, this giant lava field resembling the moon’s surface comprises 750,000 acres of shield volcanoes, volcanic rifts, spatter and cinder cones, and caves called lava tubes. In 1969, the Apollo 14 astronauts visited this environment and studied its geology to prepare for future moon trips. Park activities include viewing films and exhibits in the visitor center, hiking, biking, camping, bird-watching, and cave walks

Crater of the moon (Photo courtesy: World is Round)
Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park

This dry, flat riverbed with a cracked, mosaic-like surface resides in a California desert below sea level. This riverbed features mysterious moving rocks that have broken off the nearby hills. Although these stones leave circuitous trails in the dirt behind them as evidence of their motion, the cause of this movement remains a mystery even after years of scientific research and theorizing. The riverbed is accessible on foot from a designated parking area.

Death Valley National Park, California
One-of-a-Kind Man-made Attractions

In addition to natural landscapes, America boasts many one-of-a-kind environments created by inventive citizens. For children of all ages, these man-made worlds spark the imagination.

House on the Rock 

This unusual vacation home in southern Wisconsin has grown over the decades into a collection of quirky rooms, streets, shops, and gardens. Attractions include a long glass hallway on the edge of a cliff, a three-story room containing a giant sea monster fighting a huge squid, a roomful of self-playing musical instruments, and a large indoor carousel. Bursting with strange toys, antiques, dolls, and other curiosities, this attraction provides hours of exploration for the young at heart.

House On the rock (Photo Courtesy: Flickr)
Wizard Quest 

Also located in southern Wisconsin, Wizard Quest constitutes an interactive, life-sized, 4-D computer game that participants physically enter. Players aim to locate and liberate four realms of wizards inside the 13,000-square-foot fantasy-game setting known as the “Quadrasphere.” Participants advance by answering questions, gathering clues, and encountering magical creatures such as trolls, wizards, dragons, and fairies. This attraction provides hours of escapist fun for children and adults.

Wizard Quest in Southern Wisconsin
Unusual Kitsch 

Finally, kitschy roadside folk-art sculptures tend to score highly on the uniqueness scale. Although not usually vacation destinations in themselves, these spectacles merit a quick detour if you’re passing through the area.


About 80 miles north of I-80 in western Nebraska, artist Jim Reinders, fascinated with Stonehenge in England, replicated this famous structure in 1987 using 38 cars spray-painted gray and stacked together. Over the years, this spectacle has become a popular road-trip stop. A park next door to Carhenge features a gift shop and other sculptures constructed from cars and auto parts, including a dinosaur and a giant salmon

Carnhenge (Photo courtesy: Travelingkings)

The Enchanted Highway

Situated in southwest North Dakota, the Enchanted Highway consists of a 32-mile piece of road that runs from I-94 to the town of Regent. Along the roadside, local sculptor Gary Greff has erected various giant scrap-metal sculptures such as flying geese, grasshoppers, pheasants, and even a family. You can buy small replicas of these sculptures at Greff’s gift shop en route.

A Gaint Bird at The Enchanted Highway, North Dakota (Photo Courtesy: Washington post)

For families craving unique vacation destinations or stops along the way, America abounds with unusual attractions. Whether you prefer odd natural phenomena, offbeat man-made creations, or kitschy roadside curiosities, the locations in this article can add variety to your next trip.

Mark Carol writes for Assisted Living Today, a trusted source of information on senior care, including a comprehensive directory of both assisted living and alternative care type facilities all over the US.


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