aerial view of city during night time

Unusual Tourist Attractions

If you’re looking for unique, offbeat or just plain delicious attractions for your next trip, here are some places across the country that you may want to consider.

To enjoy one of Florida’s most unusual and longstanding roadside attractions, head to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, about an hour north of Tampa. The park is home to the Mermaids, who’ve been entertaining visitors since 1947 with performances in their magical underwater world. The park also offers kayak rentals, paddling and a riverboat cruise.

The Dole Plantation is one of the most popular attractions on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. So while it’s not an obscure destination, one part of it is unusual — the Pineapple Garden Maze, one of only a handful of permanent garden mazes in the United States. It stretches over three acres and includes nearly 2½ miles of paths created from 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants.

Food trails are a great way to sample regional specialties while supporting small businesses. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, try the Donut Trail, in Butler County, Ohio, about 45 minutes from Cincinnati. You can visit more than a dozen mom-and-pop shops selling a variety of fried, glazed, filled and sprinkled donuts. On the Connecticut Pizza Trail, stops include pizzerias serving New Haven’s thin-crust coal-fired pies and Mystic Pizza, which inspired the 1988 movie.

Gatlinburg is a scenic town in eastern Tennessee that serves as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s also home to the Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers, with a collection of more than 20,000 sets from around the world. You’ll see shakers arranged by color and theme, with everything from astronauts to vegetables represented.

For an unusual musical experience, visit the Wave Organ, a wave-activated acoustic sculpture built on a jetty in San Francisco Bay. Twenty-five organ pipes, made of concrete and PVC, are located at various elevations, allowing for the rise and fall of tides. Sound is created by the impact of waves against the ends of the pipes and movement of water in and out of the pipes. The sound is best at high tide.

Accounts of a strange spectacle outside Marfa, a desert city in west Texas, surfaced in the 19th century. The Marfa Lights remain a mysterious phenomenon. They’re sometimes red, sometimes blue, sometimes white, and they dance across the horizon randomly at night, no matter the season or weather. An official viewing area is located nine miles east of town and an annual festival takes place in September.

In Middleton, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison, you’ll find the National Mustard Museum. The collection includes more than 6,000 examples from all 50 states and more than 70 countries, along with a collection of mustard pots, antique tins and jars and vintage advertisements. You can learn about the King of Condiments at the Mustardpiece Theatre and sample mustards at the tasting bar.