TRAVEL

This Is The ONE Tourist Trap You're Missing Out On In Each U.S. State

04/22/2014 07:58 am ET | Updated Feb 09, 2016

It's a fine, blurred, and fuzzy little line that separates our nation's most-visited cultural sites from its trashy tourist traps.

Of course, any "tourist trap" can be a "cultural site," depending on how you look at it. And any "cultural site" can feel like a "tourist trap," if it's crowded enough and sweaty enough.

With road trip season upon us, we've pinpointed some places that might get bad raps as "tourist traps" but actually deserve a visit, because they're actually awesome.

Together, these offbeat, off-road places are one big celebration of America in all its kitschy, historic, lip-smacking roadside glory-- and they're definitely worth a veer off the Interstate.

ALABAMA The Boll Weevil Monument Because where else on this Earth are you going to find a Grecian-style tribute to an agrarian pest? The residents of Enterprise, Alabama erected this statue in 1919 as a way to thank the boll weevil for ruining their cotton crops and forcing them to grow other things, like peanuts and soy beans, as well. Aww. 120083284

ALASKA Iditarod Trail Headquarters At the headquarters of the annual sled dog race, you can meet members of the family who founded the Iditarod and hop in a wheeled sled before real sled dogs run you around the grounds (during summer, at least). There might even be PUPPIES! iditarod headquarters

ARIZONA Meteor Crater Yup, there's a hole in the ground besides the Grand Canyon. The Meteor Crater (also known as Barringer Crater) was produced when a 300,000-ton hunk of rock slammed into Earth. It's over 500 feet deep and almost a mile across, and you can teeter right on the edge. Recommended by Yasmine Hafiz, associate editor of Huffington Post Religion meteor crater

ARKANSAS Crater of Diamonds State Park Treasure hunters from far and wide journey to this 37.5-acre plot of dirt, the only diamond-producing site in the world that's open to the public. "It's the most fun you'll have" for eight dollars (especially when you happen upon a diamond worth $20,000). crater of diamonds

CALIFORNIA The Mystery Spot Laws of physics and gravity just don't seem to work at this funky little house in the redwoods. Balls roll uphill, people seem to grow and shrink, you can lean bizarrely far forward without ever toppling over... and we're still scratching our heads. Recommended by Yasmine Hafiz, associate editor of Huffington Post Religion mystery spot california

COLORADO Mike the Headless Chicken Festival If you're driving I-70 through Colorado in the month of May, then you're in luck. That's when the residents of Fruita hold a two-day festival (complete with a 5k run, frisbee golf tournament and wing-eating contests) to celebrate Mike, the chicken who lived on for a miraculous 18 months after he was decapitated in 1945. mike the headless chicken

CONNECTICUT The PEZ Candy Factory At the Wonka-esque visitor center, you can watch PEZ be packaged for sale, take a photo with the world's biggest PEZ dispenser, and browse shelves on shelves of everyone's favorite flavored tablets. pez connecticut

DELAWARE Dover International Speedway Get a big mouthful of 'Murrica at the "Monster Mile," where you can barbecue or overnight camp before hootin' and hollerin' at NASCAR races in the recently revamped stadium around an epic mile-long track. dover international speedway

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Ben's Chili Bowl If Bill Cosby, President Obama, and Russell Crowe all visit a "tourist trap," then we aren't ashamed to visit either. D.C.'s monuments will probably leave you hankering for a signature half-smoke, anyway. bens chili bowl

FLORIDA St. Augustine Alligator Farm The Alligator Farm started as a humble seaside reptile exhibition in the late 1800s. The new and improved location has crazy add-ons including Crocodile Crossing, where you can zipline "like a spider monkey" above live gators and past red-ruffed lemurs! stugustine alligator farm

GEORGIA Ellis Brothers Pecans You'll see the billboards for this all over I-75, but DO NOT ignore them. The white wooden storefront is a wonderland of free samples, from fresh-made brittles to chocolate-coated nuts to honey-cinnamon candied pecans. Bring some home for baking. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics georgia pecan

HAWAII Hā: Breath of Life at the Polynesian Cultural Center Imagine a Broadway show set on the beach, and you've nailed this nighttime fire-dancing, drum-beating, volcano-spewing saga that blows luaus out of the water. polynesian cultural center

IDAHO The Spud Drive-In The movie screen, the mountains, or the giant potato on a flatbed trailer? Too much awesomeness is competing for your attention at this vintage drive-in that's "frozen in time." Watch double features from the back of your pickup or in a sleeping bag on the field under a starry Idaho sky. the spud drivein

ILLINOIS The Leaning Tower of Niles It's half the size of the real thing, which means it's half as fun as going to Pisa. The tower was originally part of a recreation park for employees of a ventilation company-- rumor says it was designed to hide the swimming pool's ugly water filtration tanks. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics leaning tower of niles

INDIANA Fair Oaks Farms More than 80 adorable baby calves are born on this dairy farm every day, meaning YOU get to witness the milky miracle of life. Then, observe as a rotating turntable milks 72 cows at once. Whoa. fair oaks farms

IOWA The Field of Dreams Tour the family farm where the 1989 movie was filmed-- it's hosted a movie screening, concert and Hall-of-Famer exhibition game in the past. Recommended by Herbie Ziskend, chief of staff at the Huffington Post field of dreams iowa

KANSAS Dorothy's House There's no place like home, remember? Let a real-life "Dorothy" guide you around her residence, from the ice cream separator in the kitchen to the chamber pot she had to empty in the yard. There's even a tornado outside her bedroom window and a yellow brick road leading to Oz (cue creepily-painted mannequins). dorothy house

KENTUCKY The Bourbon Trail Ditch the driving and do some drinking during a day on Kentucky's Bourbon Trail, a flawlessly-plotted route that takes you past eight authentic distilleries including Jim Beam and Maker's Mark. Recommended by Kate Auletta, senior editor of Huffington Post Travel bourbon trail kentucky

LOUISIANA Café Du Monde Yes, the beignets are THAT good. And a stroll through the French Quarter is a must, as long as you keep it authentic. cafe du monde

MAINE The Desert of Maine Ok, so it's not an actual desert. It's an exposed plot of glacial silt in the middle of a forest. The Tuttle family tried to grow potatoes here, but it wasn't long before they mistakenly eroded their entire farm. On your visit, you can inspect their barn or simply pet the giant inanimate camels. Ahh, America. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics desert of maine

MARYLAND The National Museum of Dentistry Wanna see George Washington's lower denture? How about Queen Victoria's "oral hygiene instruments?" The early African chew stick will blow your mind... and make you thankful for Oral-B soft bristles. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics national museum of dentistry

MASSACHUSETTS Flying Horses Carousel The oldest platform carousel in the country was uprooted from Coney Island over 100 years ago and planted in a red barn on Martha's Vineyard. You've still got a shot at grabbing that slippery brass ring as you whirl round and round. flying horse carousel

MICHIGAN The Ford Rouge Factory Truck buffs will positively flip over the chance to watch an F1-50 being assembled. All this industry is juxtaposed with one of the world's largest "living roofs," making for a cool contrast. 180939774

MINNESOTA The Jolly Green Giant Yup, it's an overgrown version of the dude on your frozen peas. And if you pass through the city of Blue Earth in mid July, you'll get an extra dose of kitsch: it's when local residents celebrate Giant Days with a fun run, parade, face painting and fireworks show above their jolly green friend. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics green giant minnesota

MISSISSIPPI Vicksburg National Military Park A place that includes a cemetery probably doesn't deserve to be called a "tourist trap," but it must be known that this park draws its crowds for good reason. On a warm day, hop on a bike and meander the 16-mile route that will show you -- via real cannons, reconstructed trenches, and the remains of a thrashed gunboat -- more Civil War history than you've memorized in a lifetime. vicksburg national military park

MISSOURI Ted Drewes Frozen Custard Nothing says touristy road trip -- or America in general -- more than a cold cup of frozen custard off Route 66. If it's Christmastime, you can also strap one of Ted's signature evergreens to your roof. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics ted drewes

MONTANA Chico Hot Springs They're rustic and just off the highway as if they're a tourist trap, but frequented by celebs as if they're... not a tourist trap. Two big, outdoor pools offer just as pristine a view in sun as they do in snow, and the saloon is a hotspot all year round. You can always rent a luxe cabin for the night to glitz-ify your experience. vicksburg national military park

NEBRASKA Kool-Aid: Discover the Dream exhibit at the Hastings Museum Good ol' Edwin Perkins first exported Kool-Aid from right here in Hastings for 10 cents a packet. This exhibit shows some vintage Kool-Aid bottles and limited edition Kool-Aid Barbie dolls. Or you could plan a trip during Hastings Kool-Aid Days, when you'll meet the big red man in person. Oh yeeeah. kool aid hastings

NEVADA The High Roller It literally just opened, beating the London Eye and Singapore Flyer in height to become the world's tallest observation wheel. Forty people can fit in one glass-covered pod to watch Sin City spin below. high roller vegas

NEW HAMPSHIRE The American Classic Arcade Museum A rotating cornucopia of about 200 vintage arcade machines -- from Tetris to Space Invaders to Galaxian -- beckon for your coins, and not one of them was built after 1987. You could spend hours... well scratch that, DAYS, here. american classic arcade museum

NEW JERSEY Battleship New Jersey At nearly three football fields in length, the USS New Jersey is America's most decorated battleship for her service in multiple conflicts. Nowadays, she floats on the Camden Waterfront, where you can board her for an overnight stay in real sailor bunks and dine in her mess hall. Ahoy! 461702701

NEW MEXICO The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta It's not abnormal for over 100,000 people to turn up at the world's biggest hot air balloon festival, when hundreds of hot air balloons hit the big blue sky at once. As they light up for a Balloon Glow night ascent, you feel all magical and ticklish inside. 103009422

NEW YORK Top of the Rock Observation Deck They say this open-air observation deck is better than the one at the Empire State Building because you can see Central Park without any other tall buildings in the way. Standing 70 stories high at sunset -- when you can see how utterly tiny this island really is -- is one of those awe-inspiring, life-defining, coming-of-age moments when you feel like you're on top of the city and, therefore, the world. top of the rock

NORTH CAROLINA The North Carolina Zoo The nation's largest walk-through natural habitat zoo never gets old, especially now that there are larger-than-life animatronic bugs, three adorable baby cougars, and an otter pup. north carolina zoo

NORTH DAKOTA The Center of North America Ok, so the actual center of North America is located 16 miles from this stone obelisk in the small town of Rugby. But let's give Rugby's adorable residents the benefit of the doubt and grab an ice cream cone while we're at it. center of north america rugby

OHIO Pro Football Hall of Fame At every football fan's personal Mecca, you can browse the busts of inductees and relive Super Bowl highlights in a top-of-the-line theater. Be sure to exchange numbers with the other football geeks playing Madden with you. Recommended by Herbie Ziskend, chief of staff at the Huffington Post pro football hall of fame

OKLAHOMA The World Champion Cow Chip Throwing Contest Let's just ignore the giant beaver statue for a second and focus on the fact that this town hosts an annual competition in which people throw cow chips -- aka dried pieces of bovine dung -- across a field. They also have a parade with a Cow Chip Queen. cow chip throw

OREGON Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum Start off literally inside the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes's creaky wooden fail of a World War II flying contraption. "People come in and ask, 'Where is it?,'" a museum official told Roadside America. "We'll tell them, 'Look up.' And they'll say, 'Holy cow!'" spruce goose oregon

PENNSYLVANIA Hershey's Chocolate World Sit in a chocolate-toned Hershey's mobile as you're whisked on the cocoa's journey from humble bean to Hershey's treat. Design your own chocolate bar, watch a 4D candy show, try milk, dark, and flavored samples... need we go on? Recommended by Cayla Rasi, HuffPost social media editor hershey chocolate world

RHODE ISLAND The Newport Cliff Walk If gawking at other people's mansions qualifies as a tourist trap, then count us in. cliff walk newport

SOUTH CAROLINA South of the Border Part rest stop, part motel, part Tex-Mex-themed amusement park... whatever this compound on the highway is, it's awesome. Check out the largest indoor reptile exhibit in the U.S. south of the border carolina

SOUTH DAKOTA Crazy Horse Memorial Mount Rushmore's unfinished cousin is going to be a massive rock sculpture of Native American leader Crazy Horse. Hurry, it's been over 60 years in the making, and construction could wrap up any second! (We're joking.) At least the 90-foot face is done. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics crazy horse memorial

TENNESSEE Dollywood Water slides. Funnel cakes. Dolly Parton concerts, and the general essence of Dollyness everywhere you look. There's a reason this is the biggest ticketed attraction in the state. dollywood

TEXAS Schlitterbahn The New Braunfels installment of this water park chain has an inner-tube conveyor belt, secluded hot springs, and six-story uphill water coaster. No wonder it was voted America's Number One Water Park. Go inland shredding at the South Padre Island park, too (they have their own surf team). schlitterbahn

UTAH Delicate Arch This is the arch you've see on state license plates and the same one the Olympic torch passed through in 2002. The hike to this sandstone beauty is so majestic, you won't even be ashamed to take the obligatory jumping pic. Recommended by Lauren Zupkus, fellow with Huffington Post Entertainment delicate arch

VERMONT The Ben & Jerry's Factory Happiness is any building where you can watch fabulous ice cream flavors be born AND sample them for free AND order special ice cream and topping mash-ups. Take a somber moment to mourn discontinued combinations in the Flavor Graveyard. ben and jerrysactory

VIRGINIA Foamhenge It's Stonehenge. But with STYROFOAM. And without the weird conspiracy theories. Waaay more giggle-inducing than it looks. foamhenge

WASHINGTON Pike Place Market Get your latte at the world's first Starbucks, but be prepared to drop it if the fish throwers fail to catch your salmon during their gravity-defying seafood spectacle. 110726298

WEST VIRGINIA Harpers Ferry You'll feel like you're back in Civil War times when you bake pie in a beehive oven or make your own tinware at this national historical park. The surrounding town is pretty darn cute, too. Recommended by Chris Gentilviso, senior editor of Huffington Post Politics harpers ferry

WISCONSIN Mars Cheese Castle Cheese. Castle. Need we say more? (No, it's not built from cheese. Yes, there is copious cheddar inside.) mars cheese castle

WYOMING The Cody Night Rodeo It's a real taste of Americana at this two-hour rodeo blowout, held nightly from June through August. You'll see bull riding, team roping and barrel racing, and any kid in the bunch can sign up to tackle a calf. cody nite rodeo

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