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Top 12 Unusual Destinations to Visit in the West
The Western Region of the United States is undoubtedly one of the most diverse areas in the country.
Each state is different and offers unique experiences unavailable in most other parts of the world. Hikers can spend a lifetime exploring these states, just keep an eye out for Bigfoot. With so many incredible things to see in the West, it's not wonder why this region is one of the most popular to visit. Pack your gear, head west, and make sure to visit these 12 unusual destinations along the way.
1.) Museum of Death- Have you ever wondered the correct way to embalm a human body? Let's hope not.. Real-life applicability aside, you are sure to learn a thing or two here at the Museum of Death in Hollywood, Southern California. This bizarre museum was created by JD Healy and Cathee Shultz as a way to educate the public about death, a subject they felt wasn't discussed enough. They researched a number of highly publicized deaths and created exhibitions explaining the circumstances. Numerous attractions are on display here, including an actual severed head, coffin collection, and execution devices. Tours here are self-guided and last approximately 45 minutes.
2.) Museum of Jurassic Technology- It's commonplace for visitors to this museum, located in Culver City, Southern California, to feel like they're going insane. This is precisely the reaction that founders David and Diana Wilson wanted to evoke. This unusual museum focuses on the "advancement of knowledge and public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic." The exhibits on display are sure to confuse, so it's best to come here with an open mind.
3.) Trees of Mystery- California is known for its incredible abundance of Redwood trees, and one of the best places to see these up close is in the family owned "trees of mystery," in Klamath, Northern California. This attraction, opened in 1946, brings in visitors from around the world to see the largest trees on the planet up close. What makes this place unusual is the collection of massive sculptures created out of the trees themselves, including a 50 foot tall Paul Bunyan, and his 35 foot tall sidekick, Babe the Blue Ox. This area is one of the most beautiful places in California, so make sure to pack a camera.
(California Redwood Trees, Rex Boggs)
4.) Atomic Testing Museum- Nevada may the state best known for its testing of atomic weapons. The massive surrounding desert and relatively low population made it an ideal place for the government to study these weapons. The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, is the premier place to learn about the testing process and their results. Beginning with the earliest days of atomic testing and culminating with the current nuclear era, this museum highlights over 70 years of nuclear bombs, revealing in detail how these weapons have shaped the world we live in today.
5.) The Mob Museum- Nothing captures the Public's interest quite like the mob does. Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman knew this, and in 2012, created the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, informally known simply as, "the mob museum." This unusual tourist attraction, located in the heart of Las Vegas, tells the story of how organized crime began in America, and the efforts that Law Enforcement agencies gave to eliminate it. Numerous historical exhibits are on display, including the wall where Al Capone shot down his rivals during the "St. Valentines Day Massacre," numerous photographs of famous gangsters, and a collection of guns commonly used by the mob throughout history. This is a fascinating place to learn more about the criminal underworld in America, and a unique opportunity to learn something educational on a trip to Las Vegas.
6.) The Hoover Dam- This incredible feat of human engineering holds the distinction of being the highest concrete dam in the Western hemisphere. Tours here are not for the faint of heart, as you must descend 55 stories straight down into the dams core. Once inside, the guides walk visitors through numerous parts of the dam, including the generators which produce over four billion kilowatts of energy per year. Head to Boulder City in Southern Nevada to see for yourself why this historical landmark attracts over one million visitors every year.
(The Hoover Dam, Ron Reiring)
7.) The Airplane Home- For most people, designing their dream home starts from the ground up. Bruce Campell had a different idea, and began designing his home while it was in the sky.
In 1999, Campell purchased a retired 727 jetliner and began transforming it into a livable home. It didn't take long for the public to get interested, and quickly became a tourist attraction. The plane is parked on a forested hill in Hillsboro, Northwestern Oregon. Many visitors comment on the surreal experience of visiting the plane, completely surrounded by nature.
This plane is not far from the city of Portland, and is well worth a visit for the photograph alone.
8.) Evergreen Aviation Museum- For airplane enthusiasts, the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Mcminnville, Northwestern Oregon, is one of the most interesting places to visit in the country. This museum is filled with incredible planes from all eras of flight, but the crown jewel is without a doubt Howard Hughes' famous "Spruce Goose."
This massive plane, the largest ever constructed, saw flight only once, and was kept in hangar for 30 years shortly after. In 1993, the Spruce Goose found a home inside the Evergreen Museum where it lies today.
Lovers of aviation history could spend an entire day here without ever getting bored. It is one of the best places to learn about the history of flight, and a unique opportunity to see in person one of the most iconic symbols of American Ingenuity.
9.) High Desert Museum- Most people are unaware that a significant portion of Oregon is actually desert. To educate people about the history and wildlife in this area, the High-Desert Museum was created. Located just five miles south of Bend, this museum won't take you off the beaten path, allowing you to easily stop by during a drive between cities.
(Inside the Evergreen Aviation Museum, ERIC SALARD)
10.) Spark Museum of Electrical Invention- This fascinating museum, found in Bellingham, Northwestern Washington, traces back the origins of electric invention. It contains one of the largest collections of historical electric artifacts from as early as the 1600's.
Some of the Museum's prized possessions include the radio room from the sunken Titanic, and one of the original light bulbs built by Thomas Edison.
11.) Grand Coulee Dam and Light Show- For a sensory overload unlike anything you could imagine, head to the Coulee Dam in Northern Washington. The dam itself is an impressive engineering achievement and is certainly worthy of a visit, but the nightly light show is what makes this place special. Free of charge, this show lasts approximately 30 minutes and tells the story of the land and creation of the dam. It is one of the largest laser shows in the world, and something you are sure to remember.
12.) Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum- Unanimously rated one of the top places to visit in the state of Washington, the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle reveals to visitors the extraordinary possibilities of artwork using glass.
The museum pays tribute to the work of renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Eight galleries are on display here, as well as an outside garden, and glass-blowing theatre.
Anyone traveling to Seattle should visit this museum to see the work of a true artistic visionary.
(Rooftop Exhibit Inside the Chihuly Museum, Eli Christman)