12 Weird and Wonderful Attractions Not to be Missed in 2019

STORY BY Emmanuelle 16th March 2019


Seattle, Washington State

Paying homage to plastic poultry and its status as a classic comedy staple, the Rubber Chicken Museumfeatures dozens of yellow rubber chickens, including the world’s largest and the world’s smallest. The museum is one-of-a-kind and located inside the Archie McPhee novelty store in northern Seattle, where visitors can also purchase toys, fancy dress costumes and sweets. www.visitseattle.org

Mecca, California

Home to 20,000 banana-themed items, the International Banana Museum is the world’s largest museum dedicated to the fruit. Owner Fred Garbutt’s collection includes banana-themed gadgets and gizmos—from harmonicas and squirt guns to a “Go Bananas” slot machine and a road crossing signs for banana slugs. For an a-peeling treat, visitors are invited to take a seat on a yellow barstool and slurp a banana milkshake, chow down on banana bread, or split a banana split. www.visitcalifornia.com/uk


Rye, Colorado

The self-titled Bishop Castle is the creation of Jim Bishop, a local man who embarked on building a cosy cabin but instead created one of the most unique attractions in Colorado. Taking almost 60 years to complete, Bishop Castle is an impressive structure that stands at 160 feet and comes complete with turrets, stained glass windows and a large dragon head. Travellers can visit Bishop Castle all year round and couples can also get married there. www.colorado.com 

Sonoma County, California

The Sea Ranch, a privately owned community extending for 10 miles along a beautiful strip of Sonoma’s far northern coast, is known for its panoramic views of sea, sky, rocky ocean outcrops, and migrating whales. The Sea Ranch Chapel is a stunning architectural gem—a non-denominational chapel topped by a winged roof that seems set to take flight – which amazes visitors both inside and out. The copper-accented roof is made of cedar shingles that conform to the winged shape, whilst inside visitors will discover hand-carved redwood benches, a sculptured ceiling embedded with sea shells and sea urchins, bright-coloured stained glass windows, and mosaics. www.sonomacounty.com

San Diego, California

Situated in the picturesque region of La Jolla, The Cave Store appears as an unassuming beach shop, selling everything from snorkelling gear to watercolour paintings. But venture further and the store has a secret entrance which leads to Sunny Jim Cave, a hidden alcove over the ocean. Dating back to the early 1900s, the cave was originally used during Prohibition to smuggle alcohol into San Diego. It’s now home to an array of seabirds and is one of the city’s hidden gems. www.sandiego.org

Yosemite Tuolumne County, California  

A cosy bookstore tucked away within an old gold mine shaft beneath the cafe and ice cream shop, Legends Books, Antiques & Soda Fountain has transformed part of an old mine shaft and underground tunnel snaking beneath the surface of Sonora. What was once a general store and bank is now a lively cafe and soda shop, with a quaint bookstore tucked below. Visitors can grab a coffee or ice cream float from the cafe upstairs then head down into the old gold mine shaft below, where they can browse the shelves of books lining the walls. www.visittuolumne.com

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Randyland is an exuberantly colourful landmark located in the Central Northside of Pittsburgh. It’s a free outdoor art museum that opened over 20 years ago and has become a treasured community landmark ever since. Folk artist and resident Randy Gilson fills the area with vividly coloured, upbeat murals and objects, and has turned this Pittsburgh neighbourhood into a psychedelic dream. visitpittsburgh.com


Hanno, Japan

The much-anticipated Moomin Valley Park opens to the public on 16 March 2019 in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture. A complementing attraction to the recently-opened, Nordic-themed Metsä Village, Moomin Valley Park will include various attractions and replicas from the iconic series, including a Moominhouse, the bathing house, the lighthouse, and the three-floored ‘Kokemus’ exhibition centre, where visitors can delve into mind of Moomin creator Tove Jansson. The park’s gift shop will also be stocked with exclusive Moomin items unavailable anywhere else in the world. www.seejapan.co.uk

Portland, Oregon

At 24 inches in diameter, Mills End is the world’s smallest dedicated park. Located in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway at Taylor Street, its story began when a journalist for the Oregon Journal, Dick Fagan, got tired of looking at the ugly pothole below his office window. He decided to plant flowers in the hole and name it Mill Ends Park. To generate interest in this tiny green space, Fagan centred newspaper stories on the capers of a fictitious park resident, a leprechaun named Patrick O’Toole. www.travelportland.com

Santa Cruz, California

A “gravitational anomaly” located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, the Mystery Spot discovered in 1939, is centered around a shack that appears to be falling over, pulled down by the strange gravitational forces. The laws of physics are questioned as visitors can lean forward Michael Jackson-style against gravity. Speculation as to the cause include cones of metal secretly buried in the ground by aliens, carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a magma vortex and in “scientific terms,” the highest dielectric bio-cosmic radiation known anywhere in the world. www.santacruz.org

Miyagi, Japan   

Japan is well known for its culture of cuteness and quirky animal encounters, and nothing proves it quite like the Zao Fox Village in the Miyagi prefecture. Nestled in the picturesque mountains of northern Japan, this village serves as a fox preserve where visitors can watch, feed and take adorable pictures with over 100 animals and different breeds of Japanese foxes. Foxes are popular creatures of Japanese folktales and lore, but the biggest draw to the village is the promise of fox cuddles. www.seejapan.co.uk

Greater Palm Springs, California

Located just outside of Greater Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain is a unique work of art by local resident Leonard Knight. The man-made mountain is Leonard’s tribute to God and uses random materials, such as painted cement, hay bales, telephone poles and car windows, to create an intricate hill standing at 50 feet tall. The words ‘God is love’ are adorned at the peak and locals regularly help refresh the paint so the mountain is continuously bold and striking. www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com

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