Road trips

Quirky museums that celebrate uniqueness

You’ll need to wear a swimsuit to enjoy the exhibits at Cancún’s Underwater Museum of Art. (Courtesy of Museo Subacuático de Arte)

There’s still plenty of summer left, making it the perfect time to plan a road trip to explore these quirky museums

The Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York are indeed epic repositories of items most of us don’t normally see, but the following collections offer a glimpse of some truly unusual things. .

It’s easy to think of museums as dusty, dimly lit and dank buildings full of boring old bones visited on school trips, but the reality is that there are plenty of museums with content guaranteed to keep you enthralled, enthralled and dreaded. the arrival of closing time. Let’s take a virtual tour of some of the truly remarkable collections open to the public. If we missed a favorite, let us know so we can add it to the next episode of “Museum Road Trips.”

Courtesy of the International Spy Museum
The Spy Museum in Washington explores the fascinating world of espionage, “uncovering” secret technology and tools used by real-world spies. (Courtesy of the International Spy Museum)

Las Vegas is home to many great entertainment options, including spectacular floor shows, fabulous magicians, and stellar concerts. There are, however, several other lesser-known attractions that you may want to consider the next time you are in the area.

Spooky fun is a sure bet at the Zak Bagans Haunted Museum. Set in a “possibly haunted” 1938 Tudor mansion, guests must complete a waiver to enter. Once inside, visitors follow black-clad guides through 30 rooms to see the collection of paranormal investigator Bagans, including the dybbuk box, a wine cellar reputed to be one of the most treasured artifacts. most haunted in the world.

Also in Las Vegas, the Mob Museum is packed with exhibits and artifacts from the world of organized crime, as well as a real “hidden” Speakeasy in the basement. (USA-Pyon/Shutterstock)

The next stop on the Las Vegas museum tour is the Mob Museum. Located in a former courthouse built in 1933, the three floors are full of criminal history artifacts. Guides dressed in fedoras and black suits share stories and greet tour guests at The Underground, a hidden speakeasy in the basement, for an after-show sampling of moonshine distilled on-site.

Courtsey Titanic The Artifact Exhibit
“Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit” features a life-size replica of the doomed ship’s grand staircase. (Courtesy of Titanic The Artifact Exhibition)

The Luxor Hotel and Casino, which alone is worth a visit, is home to Titanic: The Artifacts Exhibition. Guests visit a recreation of the ship’s Grand Staircase and stroll along the promenade deck in freezing temperatures, where they see the passenger view of the doomed ship; the most daring can touch an artificial iceberg. A collection of artifacts salvaged from the ship are on display, including baggage, an unopened bottle of champagne, and much of the ship’s starboard hull.

Courtesy of the Pinball Hall of Fame
The Las Vegas Pinball Hall of Fame offers an amazing array of pinball and arcade games, all in full working order for hours of fun. (Courtesy of the Pinball Hall of Fame)

You’ll want to bring plenty of coins when you venture into the Pinball Hall of Fame. Recently moved from a semi-sleazy neighborhood to Tropicana Avenue, the establishment is home to a staggering array of pinball machines and arcade machines, all in perfect working order. Founded in the early 1990s by Tim Arnold, who started it with his collection of 1,000 machines, the vast array of machines now in place provide a lively soundtrack as guests tune into neighborhoods to rack up new personal best scores.

While James Bond and his specially equipped Aston Martin DB4 may not have been real, some of his car’s features were used by real undercover agents. (Regine Poirier/Shutterstock)

Washington, DC is an ideal destination for a road trip, due to its incredibly diverse selection of places to go and things to see. Save time to explore the Spy Museum, where visitors can test their own code-breaking, surveillance, secret identity and other spy skills in 17 interactive exhibits. Artifacts on display include a World War II Enigma code machine; a letter written by George Washington, America’s first spymaster, to a potential spy; a KGB lipstick gun; a pigeon-mounted spy camera from World War I; one of the silver bars given to spy John Walker by the Soviets; and many other fascinating items actually used by real-world spies. Don’t be surprised if you’re inspired to visit the gift shop to buy your own spy gear.

South Dakota is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s worth seeing Mount Rushmore, or visiting Custer or Sturgis State Park, site of an epic annual gathering for motorcyclists from around the world. whole world. But just outside of Sioux Falls is an outdoor collection of handcrafted sculptures on 18 acres of open prairie. A 60-foot-tall bull’s head greets visitors as they approach Porter Sculpture Park, hailed as one of America’s premier roadside attractions. Completely self-guided, Porter exhibits over 50 large-scale sculptures. Kids and dogs are welcome, with all the art accessible for photos; visitors are encouraged to touch and even climb on the artwork.

Many museums offer interactive exhibits that give visitors a hands-on experience, as well as self-guided tours that can be enjoyed at your own pace. (Kit Leong/Shutterstock)

Fuel up and have your passport and wetsuit ready for this museum on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. The Cancun Underwater Museum of Art, founded in 1980, is located about 30 feet below the surface. Its 500 sculptures are seen by around 200,000 visitors each year. Ferries run to and from the park’s waters every half hour, making it easy to get to the site. The sculptures, made of marine concrete, are anchored to the bottom of the sea where they are now part of the ecosystem and home to many fish and shellfish. An exception to the concrete construction is a submerged Volkswagen Bug – now covered in aquatic vegetation – located near Manchones Reef. Because the majority of the carvings are in relatively shallow water, they can be seen by divers, but scuba gear provides the best experience.

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