From natural wonders to man-made landmarks, historic architecture and the weird and wonderful, the United States is a vast country of interesting destinations and unique landscapes. And when it comes to unusual attractions in America, the choice is just as varied – it’s a country where you can find everything from the supersized right through to the miniature.
If you’re looking for a holiday experience that’s a little out of the ordinary, why not plan your journey around some of the USA’s most interesting and unusual attractions – they offer the chance for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and can spark your imagination as you explore the diverse history and culture that makes this part of the world so famous.
Find a unique attraction
America is made up of 50 States, stretching end to end from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. No matter what part of the country you decide to travel through, you can find things to see and do that you wouldn’t get back home. In the big cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago you can find entertaining excursions, museums and unique architecture, while in rural areas you have the chance to visit historic sites like the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore that have inspired legends and tempted travellers from around the world.
For inspiration, guides like the Lonely Planet has put together a list of 10 weird and wonderful spots around the country worth a visit – this is a good place to start as you research attractions that might interest you ahead of your visit. National Geographic has also made it easy to browse what’s out there with its list of top 10 roadside attractions in the USA.
America’s most popular – and most unusual – attractions
Depending on your interests, some attractions might be more appealing than others; whether you’re into natural, artificial or man-made wonders, here are some of the more popular attractions around the country:
Mount Rushmore – Painstakingly chiselled into the granite face on Mount Rushmore are the faces of some of America’s most influential leaders – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. Etched over a period of 14 years, the 60-foot sculptures are a highlight of the Black Hills region. Visitors can learn more about its history on an audio tour at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial site or spend the day hiking and cycling through the national park that surrounds it.
Space Needle – Proudly guarding the Seattle skyline, the famous Space Needle is one of the more unusual pieces of architecture in the country. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair the observation tower boasts panoramic views of the city and beyond. At the top you can also stop for a meal at the famous rotating restaurant SkyCity, which gently spins to offer a vantage point from every angle.
Desert of Maine – In an area famous for miles of coastline, fresh seafood and luscious green hills, it’s somewhat of a surprise to come across a sandy stretch of desert just outside Freeport. Visit though and you’ll see what the fuss is about: bad farming in the late 18th century led to soil erosion that created desert-like conditions. Today visitors can explore the 50-acre plot on a coach tour or on foot and explore the unlikely wonder up close.
Balboa Park – Known as a ‘landscape of art and culture’, Balboa Park in San Diego stretches a staggering 1,200 acres – inside you can find 15 museums, 16 gardens, a miniature railroad and golf course to name a few. You can also catch a glimpse of the world’s largest pipe organ, Spreckels Organ, with 4,518 pipes that range in size anywhere from the size of a pencil to above 30 feet.