If you’re looking for a close encounter of the unexpected kind then you might enjoy a trek around some of North America’s strangest landmarks. There are some fascinating tourist spots in the area and we’re not talking about Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon.
If bucket and spade holidays aren’t your thing and you’re looking for something a bit different then take yourself off to North America for a tour of some of its lesser known tourist attractions. Tour guide TrekAmerica knows more than most about the continent’s quirkiest sights. From landmarks that will make you do a double take, to the places that will provide the best traveller’s tales or photo opportunities, TrekAmerica presents its guide to North America’s best off-the-beaten-track sights.
The world’s largest ball of twine, Minnesota You can’t get much quirkier than a giant ball of twine and this is some ball. Arguably Darwin’s greatest landmark, this enormous ball of twine measures a whopping four metres in diameter. Unbelievably, the ball was made by just one man – Francis A. Johnson. He spent 23 weeks in 1950 painstakingly wrapping twine for four hours a day. Nowadays, the ball is proudly displayed in a Perspex gazebo so it can be viewed from all sides. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Northern Trail or Trailblazer tours Find out more: www.darwintwineball.com/twineball.html
London Bridge, Arizona Forty years ago, London Bridge was disassembled from its position over the River Thames and reconstructed in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. It remains one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, largely spurred on by the urban myth that the American owner thought he was buying Tower Bridge. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Westerner 2 tour or Footloose’s Western Dream Find out more here: www.golakehavasu.com/londonbridge.html
The Spam Museum, Minnesota Made famous, or infamous, by the Monty Python team in their classic spam sketch this iconic tinned meat product now has its own museum. Yes, an entire museum dedicated to everyone’s favourite canned meat, Spam, which the website modestly refers to as “the cradle of civilisation”. A slight exaggeration we think. However, what better opportunity for travellers suffering the credit crunch to stock up on this war-time food staple. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Transcontinental North or Grand Trek tours Find out more here: www.spam.com/museum
Cadillac Ranch, Texas Take a detour from Route 66 at Amarillo where you’ll find ten Cadillac cars buried nose-first into the desert. Visitors are encouraged to leave their mark by adding to the graffiti-covered vehicles. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Americana Road Trip or Transcontinental South tours Find out more here: www.texasoutside.com/amarilloframes/cadillacranchframes.htm
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Museum, Alberta, Canada It might sound like a wrestling move, but Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Museum is actually a World Heritage site where visitors can learn about the culture of Native Americans who populated the area for over 5,500 years. The name refers to the tradition of killing buffalo by driving herds over a cliff. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Transcontinental North or Trailblazer tours Find out more here: www.head-smashed-in.com
The General Lee, Tennessee Dukes of Hazzard fans will be in their element at Cooter’s Place, a shop and museum that houses memorabilia from the cult TV show, including the famous General Lee. TrekAmerica tour leaders bringing groups here are advised to keep the van windows up at all times. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Southern Sun or Grand Trek tours Find out more here: www.cootersplace.com
Chicken, Alaska This town was due to be called Ptarmigan, after the Alaskan state bird that was abundant in the area. The only problem was that nobody could agree how to spell Ptarmigan…so they named it “Chicken” instead. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Klondike or Footloose’s Alaska-Yukon Explorer tours Find out more here: www.chickenalaska.com
Jolly Green Giant Statue, Minnesota The universal face of sweetcorn is helping to position Minnesota as the place to go for weird and wonderful sights by securing its third entry in this list. The Jolly Green Giant Statue, in the town of Blue Earth, stands 55 feet tall, but thankfully for visitors, his modesty is preserved despite his short tunic. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Northern Trail or Transcontinental North tours Find out more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolly_Green_Giant
Roswell UFO Museum, New Mexico The truth is out there, just not necessarily here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your mystical side with a tour of this infamous UFO site. Find out more about the “Roswell Incident” of 1947 and indulge in a whole host of UFO conspiracy theories – before nipping across the road for a milkshake at the world’s only UFO-themed McDonalds. It’s got to be done. See it on: TrekAmerica’s Americana Road Trip Find out more here: www.roswellufomuseum.com
Devils Tower, Wyoming Continuing the alien theme, this eerie looking monolith played a central role in Close Encounters of the Third Kind . Remember Richard Dreyfuss’ mash potato mountain in Hollywood smash? It is a sacred site for many Native Americans and was proclaimed the USA’s first national monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. See in on: TrekAmerica’s Northern Trail, Grand Trek or Transcontinental North tours Find out more here: www.nps.gov/deto
Sourtoe Cocktails, Dawson City, Canada Not so much of a sight, but more of an experience, Downtown Hotel in Dawson City is home to the famous Sourtoe Cocktail Club. To become part of the 12,000 elite, travellers must drink a shot of their choice containing a severed human toe that must touch the lips. The hotel is currently on its eighth toe, after several were ‘accidentally’ swallowed. Try it – if you dare – on: TrekAmerica’s Klondike. Find out more here: www.sourtoecocktailclub.com