The American south-west is already a unique and beautiful place, but some spots are a bit quirkier than the standard tourist attraction. Here is a list of a few strange and whimsical places that are a bit off the beaten path throughout the southwestern USA and will provide for some fun and interesting experiences and some great social media photos! Be sure to also plan ahead with the right documents you need to get there, like applying for the ESTA.
1) Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada
When you think of Las Vegas, USA, you think of the strip lined with neon signs. However, have you ever wondered what happens when one of the casinos is renovated and or when they are torn down to make a new, bigger casino. What happens to these signs?
Thankfully, in 1996, the Neon Museum was founded as a way to preserve, study and exhibit these unique artefacts. Guests are allowed to come to visit these fun old signs and understand a bit more about the history of this glittery, neon town. Each sign has its own individual story, such as the inspiration behind it, who made it, and its role in Las Vegas’ history.
This offbeat, charming museum is also available for weddings and parties. It is especially magical to visit at sunset, when many of the restored signs shine beautifully against the warm pinkish skies.
The visitors’ centre is also a cool part of Las Vegas History, located in the historic former lobby of La Concha Motel. It is a prime example of Mid-Century Modern architecture found throughout this part of the USA.
2) Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon, California
This eye-catching roadside attraction is bound to make for a few fantastic photographs. The reason the park is so incredibly photogenic has a lot to do with the location. Cabazon is right east of Joshua Tree National Park, and is nestled between several famous forests. This prime location means that behind these quirky dinosaurs are some incredible south-western vistas.
The park has been featured in several music videos and has a very charming appearance in the 1980s cult classic Tim Burton film “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”. Most of the park is free to visitors, but for 13 USD, you can climb up to the top of the T Rex and enjoy the view from inside his mouth.
The other famous dinosaur is an apatosaurus, and there is a neat gift shop located in his big belly. Entering this beast is free of charge, but you will most likely not be able to resist buying something fun.
3) Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California
The Winchester Mystery House is an architectural wonder to behold and has a very odd history. The house was built by Sarah Winchester, whose husband William Wirt Winchester was the heir to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. In the 1800s, this brand was known as “the gun that won the west”.
Several tragedies happened to Sarah; she lost her baby to an illness, and her husband died of tuberculosis. After his death, she moved to San Jose, California, where she spent 35 years renovating this house. Why she did this for literally the rest of her life is still a mystery. Some say she was haunted by the ghosts of those who were killed by Winchester guns. Some insist that she was told to do so by a psychic.
This house has 10,000 windows, 2,000 doors, 160 rooms, 47 stairways and fireplaces, 17 chimneys and the list could go on. Tours of this house highlight the odd architectural features, such as doors that open to other doors. Staircases that go nowhere, trap doors, skylights in the floor and other oddities can be found throughout this bizarre mansion.
Fans of the paranormal will love all the ghost stories that accompany this strange, beautiful house. It is rumoured to be one of the most haunted locations throughout all the USA.
Make sure to travel with the right documents
A trip to the Southwestern USA is something everyone should experience. In order to get there, usually the fastest and easiest way is with the travel authorization called an ESTA. This method is usually much cheaper, simpler, and faster than applying for an actual visa. You can avoid a trip to the embassy, and any complicated interview processes.
The ESTA Application Form can be easily filled out online and only takes about 5 minutes per traveller. It is easy to see if you meet the requirements of the ESTA to make your trip even faster and easier.