3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
One of my family’s favorite quirky destinations is Albu’quirky’ (aka Albuquerque). There are 30 museums in the city including the International Rattlesnake Museum, which contains the world’s largest varieties of species in the world. The Tinkertown museum made of 50,000 glass bottles, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, a year-round ghost town, an alpaca farm, and a hotel that has hospital-themed rooms (it used to be a hospital). You and your family can also enjoy Hot Air Ballooning, hiking the turquoise trail, ride the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway, the ABQ BioPark, a unique environmental museum comprising an Aquarium, Botanic Garden, Zoo and fishing lakes. Recommended length of stay in Albuquerque is 3-5 days and the Hyatt Tamaya Resort & Spa offers a huge list of family and teen activities reflective of the local culture like adobe brick making, Navajo jewelry making, molding clay the traditional way, native American Stories Under the Stars, Gourd painting and more.
2. Santa Claus, Indiana
One of the friendliest places to visit in the entire country the 2,000 residents offers amenities such as free soft drinks, free parking, free sunscreen and free Wi-Fi. There’s a Holiday World theme park and Splashin’ Safari water park. And yes, Santa is there every day – even the dog days of summer. (He has a summer outfit – no big heavy coat in the warmer weather!) The town has a 22-foot-tall Santa statue (built in 1935), a Santa Claus Museum, Santa’s Stables, and even Santa’s Candy Castle. Even the president of the town council (they don’t have a mayor) sports a big white beard and an appropriately sized belly. If your family likes camping Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort is the place. It has rental cabins, RVs and Santa’s Cottages.
1. Baltimore, Maryland
From the creepy brilliance of Edgar Allan Poe to the dark, irreverent humor of John Waters, a sci-fi nut, horror junkie, or simply a fan of good, old American kitsch, Baltimore is the number one quintessential capital of weird, cool and quirky sites in our country. Ignite your curiosity with a day at the American Visionary Art Museum. It’s new original exhibit, the art of storytelling, features embroidery, diorama, sculpture, film, graffiti, and more. Visit Port Discovery where your kids can experience what it’s like to travel through Egypt in the 1920s in a hybrid physical adventure and mental obstacle course deciphering hieroglyphics and finding clues leading to the lost pharaoh tomb. Or they can climb, crawl, jump, and slide through a three-story urban treehouse in Kidworks. They’ll have the chance to sift through clues and help solve the baffling case of the missing Baffeld family at Miss Perception’s Mystery house. And finally make a splash in the new exhibit, Wonders of Water – WOW! which helps children understand human interactions with water in interactive ways. Take a walk down memory lane at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum where pop culture, from the 1700s to present day, comes to life for children of all ages. The museum houses exhibits of characters such as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Barbie, the Brownies and more as they evolved from the familiar icons of yesterday to the heroes of today. Then hit up the National Pinball Museum, which promotes the heritage of pinball through exhibits and programs designed to advance the public’s knowledge of pinball. And most weirdly of all, and so appropriate for my obsession with pearly whites, is the National Museum of Dentistry. I learned about dental care in the 19th century: What kind of toothbrush Queen Victoria used, and got a sneak peek at George Washington’s dentures. A two-day trip works perfectly. Families can stay in luxury at a Waterfront hotel or the Inner Harbor, which overlooks Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Sports Legend Museum.
Enjoy your weird, wacky, and wild road trip, for more adventures check out:
- 7 Must-See Road Trip Destinations Across America
- Know Before You Go: How to Road Trip on a Budget
- Travel Tip: Road Trip Resources Off-the-Highway
- Most Helpful & Unusual Road Trip Gadgets
By Kerri Zane for PeterGreenberg.com. Kerri Zane is a family travel expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One, on sale now. For more advice on health, parenting or Kerri’s exclusive MomEscapes visit her at KerriZane.com.