It’s no secret that America is filled with quirky towns, cities, and attractions. So, for your enjoyment, we’ve compiled some of the most interesting activities that this massive country has to offer.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
We’ll hazard a guess that your favorite meal probably wasn’t served on an airplane … until now. Built in 1953, this Boeing KC-97 was initially constructed to refuel aircrafts all over the globe, though it was later repurposed as a restaurant when it was retired in 2002. Seating 275 guests, the Airplane Restaurant is filled with vintage photographs and aviation memorabilia that inform visitors about the history of the aircraft. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves home-style comfort food, like baked spaghetti, catfish and hushpuppies, and deep fried shrimp. We guarantee it’s worlds better than anything you’ll get during an actual flight.
If you enjoy the pull of the open road more than most, there’s no better place to visit than the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. Filled with RVs and mobile homes that document every era of America’s obsession with driving, the RV Hall of Fame even offers age-old attractions like its Earl Travel Trailer dating back to 1913. The exhibit serves as a fascinating glimpse into American road culture, as well as the influence that increasing prosperity had on the auto industry. The most charming part of the exhibit is its Founders Hall, where the space is painted to model a campground, complete with vintage RVs. If you’re considering renting an RV and getting out on the open road, this place will definitely inspire you!
Bonne Terre, Missouri
Venture to Billion Gallon Lake in the mine of Bonne Terre, Missouri, and prepare to be amazed. The 101-year-old mine was eventually decommissioned in 1962, when groundwater began to seep in, filling 88 miles of underground passages. The surface of the underground lake now has 17 miles of shoreline. Visitors can explore the lake via boat, while avid scuba divers can actually hop in and swim in the world’s “largest freshwater dive resort.” These divers navigate the clear waters that are broken up by mining equipment left behind when production slowed to a halt. For visitors who aren’t keen on water, the mine can also be traversed by foot. It’s an incredible journey, and one that can only be found in the heart of Missouri.
For those who like to drive fast, the Tail of the Dragon (U.S. 129), which lies between the North Carolina and Tennessee border, is the road for you. With 318 curves in just over 11 miles of road, the Tail of the Dragon is America’s most popular route for motorcycles and sports cars. Characterized by tight turns and gorgeous scenery, some portions of this famed roadway are over 5,000 feet in elevation. Most visitors plan to try their luck at the route during the spring, summer, and fall months, as winter conditions can make the road slick, icy, and extremely dangerous. If you’re up for a thrill and are in the area, head to this famous stretch of road — but be sure to stay in your lane and be alert!
Mitchell, South Dakota
To break up the monotony of driving through South Dakota, explore the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Established in 1892, the Corn Palace was commissioned as a gathering place for local community members to enjoy the spoils of the fall harvest, numerous autumnal festivals, and local entertainment. Since its construction, the Corn Palace has thrown a festival every August. The buildings have been rebuilt three times since 1905, each re-model more elaborate than the last, and it’s now redecorated each year with grains, native grasses, and multicolored kernels of corn. Don’t miss South Dakota’s corn-hub of community activities, events, and entertainment!
Built by King Kalakaua in 1882, Iolani Palace was the seat of the state’s reigning monarchy until it was overthrown in 1893. The only royal residency in the States, Iolani is a reminder of the rich history of Hawaii and a tribute to its late ruler, Queen Lilioukalani. Ogle the Blue Room, the Throne Room, the Grand Hall, the State Dining Room, and the Music Room — but don’t forget to bring your camera along. Before you leave, be sure to explore the stunning grounds that surround the property, including the Keliiponi Hale, the Sacred Mound, the Hale Koa Barracks, and the Old Archives.
Carrizozo, New Mexico
When traveling through New Mexico, venture to the Tularosa Basin. Nestled between the Sierra Blanca and the Oscura Mountains, you’ll find this eerie, ancient lava field. A protected area, this site was struck by a basaltic lava flow from Little Black Peak nearly 1,500 years ago. Visitors can follow trails through the field and view the glittering black rock dotted with wildflowers and cacti. It’s a truly stunning sight, and one that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Be sure to bring a camera, a hat, and plenty of water — the open area is beautiful, but doesn’t provide much shade.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
We bet you didn’t expect to find a water oasis in this Midwestern state, but America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark is located on over 600 acres of Wisconsin Dells. No matter the season, the Wilderness Resort is the perfect getaway for families, couples, and groups of friends. Lodging options range from villas to hotel rooms and spectacularly outfitted cabins, and access to the park’s many water attractions is included in your stay! The locale also features a spa resort and golf course. With over 12 football fields of water-based activities, you can ensure that your vacation will be wet and wild!
Newport, Rhode Island
Located along the scenic eastern shore of Newport, Rhode Island’s Cliff Walk is a stunning way to experience the natural beauty of the shoreline and the gorgeous architecture that epitomizes the Gilded Age in the Northeast. Along the way, you’ll spot clumps of wildflowers, rare geological rocks, and hosts of native birds. This is the perfect walk for families, couples, or avid outdoors-people with dogs. Be aware that the walk is nearly 10 miles long, though you can begin at Memorial Boulevard (First Beach or Easton’s), walk south, and exit at any point, like Narragansett Ave., Webster St., and Bellevue Ave. at Bailey’s Beach.
Header image by Aaron Burden