15 hidden and unique treasures to visit
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
My husband and I have been full-timing it across the United States for several years. While we find museums educational, it's the strange, bizarre and unexpected places that are so much fun!
Below are 15 of our favorite hidden and unique treasures, and most of these places are free. We found many of these on Roadside America, but we visited some based on recommendations from locals or just by chance. Some aren't considered "hidden" from locals, but visitors don't necessarily know about these locations.
15. Magnolia Public Beach
Magnolia Beach, Texas
This is the best boondocking location we've ever seen, yet it never seems busy. We found this site on FreeCampsites.net along with an ebook from Frugal-RV-Travel.com. No water or electricity, but you can camp on a beach for free.
We were a bit confused and hesitant to camp even though we had the coordinates of the spot, since there were no signs that said camping was allowed. But there were a few other RVs on the beach, and we decided to stop.
Some sites have shelters, but we camped right on the sand (see image above). It felt like we had a beach to ourselves. I pulled out my camp chair and enjoyed the view. What a wonderful place to enjoy a book.
14. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Walking through an iron mill from the mid-1900s is a bit surreal. The path takes you past large equipment where the rust just adds to the ambiance. Free!
13. Mound Cemetery
I love this one since it is both a mound (built between 800 BCE and 700 CE for chieftains) and a cemetery. The cemetery surrounding it has soldiers from the American Revolution to the present. This small area packs in a lot of history.
12. Galveston Tree Sculptures
This is a walk among beautiful Victorian homes to discover these sculptures. Artists made the sculptures from trees that fell during Hurricane Ike. Some are funny and many are just gorgeous art. What a wonderful way to spend a few hours!
11. Backyard Terrors Dinosaur Park
Bluff City, Tennessee
This is an incredible display of full-size dinosaurs made by a guy in his backyard. The guy tries to make them as accurate as he can and includes information on the different dinosaurs. I don't know how many there are, but let's just say "lots." The dinosaurs are placed along trails and some have sound effects. This one is free, but be nice and drop off a donation.
10. NRAO Very Large Array
Socorro, New Mexico
I love astronomy, so telescopes are pretty cool. The VLA is equivalent to a radio telescope with a 13-mile radius. The view of these 27 radio telescopes is surreal, especially before a storm. They have even been featured in several movies like "Independence Day," "Terminator Salvation" and "Contact."
9. Haystack Trail – Coopers RockState Forest
Bruceton Mills, West Virginia
This is a short trail (only 0.1 mile one way), but it's still challenging. First, you have to find it. Rangers and most maps don't seem to know about it. If you go to the campground restroom, the map in front has the only description I found on how to get to it. The view is gorgeous at the end, and realizing not many people take this path makes it even more exciting.
8. T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum
It has local history and oddities, but I love this museum just for the petrified cat. This cat was caught in the wall during construction. After 150 years, it was found and brought to the museum. It has been at the museum for another 50 years. The rumor is that the ghost of the cat moves through the museum and bumps small items or brushes past your legs.
7. Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk
I'm not exactly a Trekkie, but pretty close. Years ago in the "Star Trek" series it was mentioned that Captain Kirk came from a small town in Iowa. A local "Star Trek" fan and store owner decided that it might as well be Riverside, Iowa. He got the town council to change the town slogan to "Where the Trek Begins," change the annual festival to a Trek theme, and stuck a sign in the ground stating this was the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.
It's a fun place for Trekkies. There are signs on the lighting posts. The local bar is both the location where Kirk was conceived and the future location of the bar seen in the movie "Star Trek" (2009 version).
6. Reader's Oasis Books
Quartzite is a fascinating town to visit. Talking to Paul, the Naked Bookstore Owner, was the highlight of our visit (or at least the most memorable). He knows a lot about books and has some wonderful stories including a performance at Brown University and Bette Midler.
5. Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park is great for birding. Unfortunately, the hiking trails are limited. Even though there is no trail, I decided to climb a nearby peak. You know those movies where the hero is running down a hallway and the end of the hallway seems to keep moving away? That's what it seemed like while climbing this hill. The top seemed like it was always out of reach.
When I finally climbed the hill, I realized there was another peak behind just a bit higher. And another behind it that was higher. I finally did climb that peak where the views were stunning. I'm including it here since the view from the peak is basically hidden from the average visitor.
4. Tornado Beam
Back in 1902 a tornado came through Goliad. It destroyed a newly constructed bridge. One of the iron beams flew almost a mile to land in the backyard of a house near the courthouse. The beam is so deep in the ground that no one was able to pull it out.
This iron beam doesn't seem to be on anyone's list of bizarre places. We heard about it at the local museum.
3. Old Warren County Court House Museum
This is a small museum that is full of donations from the locals. Lots of Civil War and Jefferson Davis items. The best is the pregnant minie. According to locals, the minie ball supposedly pieced the man-parts of a solder then traveled into a lady, making her pregnant. That's their story, and they are sticking to it!
2. Luckenbach General Store
There is no place as laid back as Luckenbach, Texas. Spend several hours drinking beer and listening to the musicians who show up for Picker Circle. All types and ages of people show up to listen. This is true America. The music is free but, of course, you pay for beer and food.
1. Cadillac Ranch
For both of us, this is our favorite bizarre place to visit. The ends of 10 Cadillacs are buried in a field in the middle of nowhere. Yet there are always people of all ages stopping with cans of spray paint to decorate the cars.
They say whatever you paint will last less than 24 hours before someone else paints over your masterpiece. That's part of the cool factor. The cars now have thick layers of paint. Who knows what they will look like in a few years!
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