10 Unusual Museums
to visit when you travel
In a previous post, we told you about some of the weird museums that we have visited. Now, in this follow up post, we have a few more unusual museums we have found on our road trips.
Some of these are not as weird as previous, but they certainly are some entertaining and very unusual museums.
If you find yourself on a road trip through any of these cities, I would recommend you stop at these unusual museums.
Tucked away in the Ozark Mountains, Branson, MO is an eclectic mix of unusual attractions. Branson is a family-friendly travel destination that has entertainment for the whole family, including musical reviews, celebrity shows, museums, attractions, and rides. One of the museums we checked out during our visit was the World’s Largest Toy Museum. Here, you will find millions of toys that are from the 19th century to the present day. Visitors of all ages will love exploring this unusual museum and experiencing a sense of nostalgia as you do.
If you are a fan of commercial advertising and the artistry that went into the sign making, you will want to visit the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati. They have a vast collection of signs from over the last one hundred plus years. Some of the signs are easily recognisable; signs made famous through pop-culture; signs from many businesses both small and large; and some signs you may have never seen before. Tours through the American Sign Museum can be either self-guided, audio self-guided, or with one of the tour guides. A visit to this museum is a pleasant trip down the Main street of Americana.
San Francisco, California
During a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, we discovered the Musee Mecanique. This unusual museum is the world’s most extensive privately-owned collection of coin-operated mechanical instruments and vintage arcade games. The collection contains many amazing amusements that you would have seen at carnivals, boardwalks, amusement parks, and festivals. Admission to the museum is free, and you can play with all of the vintage amusements.
Don’t forget to enjoy a seafood chowder in a sourdough bread bowl just outside the museum.
Las Vegas, Nevada
It’s signs of the times. As the city of Las Vegas has grown, and some of the businesses replaced, their neon signs get salvaged. These signs get stored and preserved in the Neon Boneyard. Here, you will find many of the iconic signs you may recognise from movies, television, or your past visits. Tour guides walk you through the Neon Boneyard park and provide you with a history lesson as you re-discover Vegas’ neon past. They offer guided tours to ensure that the signs are maintained, and no accidental damage occurs. It is probably my favourite thing to do in Vegas now. (Slotzilla takes a close second).
Viva Las Vegas.
Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick
Florenceville-Bristol is the french fry capital of the world, as it is the location of the world headquarters for McCain Foods, the largest producer of French fries in the world. The Potato World museum is, as you probably guessed, is a museum dedicated to the humble potato. Everything you wanted to know about potatoes but were afraid to ask. After you learn about potatoes, enjoy a meal at the café – which features the tuber prominently. Everything they serve here has a potato on or in it in some way and comes with a very generous serving of fries (of course).
LeRoy, New York
There is always room for Jell-O when you are on a road trip through Upstate New York. The original gelatin dessert got started in the small town of LeRoy, known as the home of Jell-O. The factory produced Jell-O products here from 1881 – 1964 when General Foods purchased the company and moved production elsewhere. Here, you will find the Jell-O museum. On a self-guided tour through the museum, you will learn about the history of this famous dessert. You will see advertisements throughout the years, featuring many celebrities, various flavours of Jell-O, different moulds, and much more. Some of the curators are former employees of the factory and are happy to share their Jell-O knowledge with you.
Make room for J-E-L-L-O.
Chittenango, New York
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Chittenango, New York. Quite literally, you can walk down the Yellow-Brick Road in this small American town. This is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum. Fans of the Wizard of Oz books and movies will love visiting this small town in upstate New York and visit All Things OZ. This unusual museum houses many exhibits featuring thousands of artefacts related to All Things OZ, including books, costumes, props, CDs, DVDs, and much more.
Every year in June, the town has a celebration called “OZ-stavaganza” with a parade, activities, costume contests, live entertainment, food, a marketplace, and OZ-related celebrity guest appearances. A few years ago, we got to meet Gregory McGuire, the author of the book Wicked, which is the source material for the hit Broadway musical.
Love them or hate them, The Waltons have a successful business on their hands. This unusual museum is a history lesson in the origin story of the Wal-Mart brand, founder Sam Walton’s rise to fame, and success. The teachings of how to be successful in business and marketing cover the walls of this museum. Sam Walton and his family share details on how they succeeded in business. Entrepreneurs, marketers, and business professionals will find this information very inspirational and aspirational.
There is a small gift shop with various items depicting Walmart through the years.
Our favourite feature is the exhibit on “most unusual reasons people returned items to Wal-Mart”. An exhibit which makes it a very unusual museum, and refers to that famous Walmart guarantee.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
There are a lot of unusual museums in the Niagara Falls tourist area. Most are Ripley’s or wax-type museums, but one of the most underrated and truly unique museums is outside of the Clifton Hill area. Located in downtown Niagara Falls, it is worth getting out of the highly trafficked areas and check it out. Evel Knievel was a motorcycle daredevil who had a long career entertaining people with his risky moves on his motorcycle. He attempted many incredible feats of danger, to become a legend, an icon, and a hero to many.
This museum houses many artifacts from his heyday, his impact on pop culture, motorcycles and costumes he used, and much, much more. It is a fascinating self-guided museum, with many unusual and rare pieces, and is worth visiting the next time you are in Niagara Falls.
If you ever plan to motor west, take the highway that’s the best. Get your kicks, on Route 66. I included this in our list of unusual museums not because it is so much a weird museum, but because I think people should visit it. Those of you interested in the automotive industry, American history of the last century, or, if like me, are just a pop culture fanatic, this is a fantastic place to visit.
This museum captures all of that history in glorious technicolour. They take you back to the days of the depression and the American dustbowl. (Watch the movie Grapes of Wrath). Then, you follow along to that post-war era, when Americans were taking family vacations using Route 66 for their road trips.
Communities along Route 66 that relied on travellers taking the mother road were bypassed when faster highways were built. This kept people from visiting, leading them to fall into ghost-town status. Visiting ghost towns, and doing urban explorations are activities that Roguetrippers also love doing when we travel. The Route 66 museum in Clinton, OK takes you through it all. It is a real slice of Americana.
We encourage you to take a little time to visit some of the unusual museums you find on your next road trip. They are sure to entertain, enlighten, and even educate you. They can be fun and a fantastic activity for any holiday, providing you with great vacation memories, and exciting stories. The best part of visiting these unusual museums is they are often very inexpensive to enter. This can help you to stretch your activities budget when you travel.
If you know of a weird or unusual museum that you think we need to visit for future instalments, please let us know.