The Strangest Museum in Every State

The weird, strangely fascinating, and sometimes scary museums in the US you have to see.

women waching arts at museum
Updated June 4, 2024
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What is a museum to you? Is it solely a place to learn about history, art, or science, or could it be the ideal place to explore the “weird” and “quirky” aspects of life?

A museum could focus on anything, including those that dedicate themselves to cultural and historical interests. The U.S. is chock full of both types of museums — the academic and the novel — and chances are, there’s an interesting one right in your own home state.

To help you see the wide range of unique museums to visit, we compiled a list of some of the strangest, most interesting, and truly fascinating museums in the States to help you plan your next road trip and stop wasting money on boring destinations.

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Alabama: The Drive-Thru Museum (Seale)

Angelov/Adobe stuffed fox and wild boars

You don’t even have to get out of your car to explore the Drive-Thru Museum. You can take in some really funky art, marvel at antiques, and see some taxidermy.

The location was once the owner’s private taxidermy shop and artifact room, and today it’s bursting with local history and local art.

Alaska: Hammer Museum (Haines)

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The Hammer Museum is quite an interesting choice. Perhaps not the most fascinating, but with 1400 hammers on display, along with just about any other tool you can imagine, it’s actually pretty unique.

What makes it intriguing isn’t that they are hammers, but rather that they tell the story of how humans used tools over time, with options spanning from ancient times through medieval years and then into colonial days and the industrial period. This is the real deal, hands-on history.

Arizona: Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (Tucson)

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A bit of history never hurt anyone, and in this case, it certainly could make you feel better. The Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Sciences is a fascinating look (and quite a scary investigation) into the history of treating illness.

There are over 60,000 items on display — what many believe to be the largest pharmacy collection in the world.

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Arkansas: Daisy Airgun Museum (Rogers)

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Daisy, a company known for its production of BB guns and novelties during the 1800s, is on display at The Daisy Airgun Museum. You may remember this company from The Christmas Story as Ralphie’s ultimate Christmas gift wish, yet, there’s much more than The Red Ryder B.B. Gun to see here.

The organization has the largest collection of artifacts from the Daisy company and pays homage to a wide range of vintage products and artifacts.

California: Museum of Death Hollywood (Los Angeles)

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It’s a bit of a morbid topic, but there is nothing quite like the Museum of Death in Hollywood. If you appreciate the macabre, you may appreciate the body bags and morgue scene photos here.

There are displays with graphic car accident photos, antique mortician apparatuses, and even artwork from infamous serial murderers to see.

Colorado: Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys (Lakewood)

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Tiny but incredibly intricate is the best way to describe the displays at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys. The location is one kids and adults will find fascinating.

It opened in 1987 and has both a rotating and a permanent collection of artifacts and tiny “everything.”

Connecticut: Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry (Storrs)

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If you don’t like dolls, don’t visit the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. For everyone else, it’s an interesting location operated by the University of Connecticut.

Events are held here, including performances of puppet theater, and there are also 3,000 puppets on display to check out.

Delaware: Johnson Victrola Museum (Dover)

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The Johnson Victrola Museum focuses on E.R. Johnson, the founder of the Victor Talking Machine Co., who is ultimately recognized as a pioneer in the development of the sound-recording industry.

Take a self-guided tour, see the artifacts, and hear some great recordings while you’re there.

Florida: Replay Museum (Tarpon Springs)

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The Replay Museum is an interactive experience (to some extent). It’s a museum that features over 100 vintage pinball and arcade games on display.

You don’t even need a quarter to try a few out, but you will spend some time having fun here.

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Georgia: Lunch Box Museum (Columbus)

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The Lunch Box Museum claims to be the largest collection of lunchboxes in the world, with over 5,000 items on display.

They probably have the lunch box you had as a child (perhaps even with the thermos still inside)!

Hawaii: Bishop Museum (Oahu)

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The Bishop Museum is a traditional museum, but it is so fascinating and detailed that it’s absolutely worth a visit.

It’s dedicated to the natural history and cultures of the region and is considered the top museum in the Pacific. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts depicting both ancient and modern native Polynesian culture.

Idaho: Idaho Potato Museum (Blackfoot)

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How can potatoes be interesting? The Idaho Potato Museum started off as a train depot but was converted into a museum dedicated to the history and cultivation of the state’s number one cash crop and most well-known commodity — potatoes.

One interesting fact, according to the museum, is that Americans eat about 124 pounds of potatoes every year, but Germans consume as much as twice that.

Illinois: The Insect Asylum (Chicago)

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With the best creepy and cool factor out there, the Insect Asylum is a must. You’ll learn something about zoology while also checking out some amazing taxidermy.

There’s quite a bit of education here, and the cool art and gardens are worthy of exploring.

Indiana: Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum (Elkhart)

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If you can list all of Batman’s rivals and remember the earliest incarnations of Superman, you’ll appreciate the Hall of Heroes Superhero Museum.

This museum takes on the comic books, has some of the best props and displays, and keeps over 10,000 toys and figures in stock (not to mention over 70,000 comic books).

Iowa: Pottawattamie Squirrel Cage Jail (Council Bluffs)

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The Pottawattamie Squirrel Cage Jail is a strange museum — it’s the only three-story rotary jail out there.

The jail cells could turn, with the cranking of a device, to allow the jailer to rotate which prisoner was visible back in 1885.

Kansas: Garden of Eden (Lucas)

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Samuel Dinsmoor built the Garden of Eden in 1907. The area features an 11-bedroom log cabin that is surrounded by 150 sculptures. 

A highlight for some of the 15,000 visitors who make the trek to Lucas each year is seeing Dinsmoor himself, who is entombed in a 40-foot-tall mausoleum.

Kentucky: Vent Haven Museum (Fort Mitchell)

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This is a weird one, for sure! The Vent Haven Museum is dedicated to the history and artifacts of the ventriloquial figures.

If you’re fascinated with ventriloquists (and those creepy-looking dolls that really do seem to come to life), this is the place for you.

Louisiana: The Great American Alligator Museum (New Orleans)

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After spending the day enjoying beignets in the French Quarter, head to The Great American Alligator Museum, the perfect place to see gators in every way imaginable — taxidermied, ceramic, fossilized, and there’s even a live gator on site!

They have cult film memorabilia, including items from “Gator Boys” and “Swamp People.” Find anything you can imagine in the gift shop, including gator-inspired salt and pepper shakers.

Maine: International Cryptozoology Museum (Portland)

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Does Bigfoot really exist? At the International Cryptozoology Museum, you’ll learn about every type of hidden and mysterious animal out there, and see the evidence of them.

If you’ve always wondered about Nessie or want to know more about the history of the Moth Man, this is the place to visit.

Maryland: The Mermaid Museum (Berlin)

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The Mermaid Museum is a sensory experience. You will get to see, hear, and even touch mermaids — or at least versions of them.

The Mermaid Museum focuses on the mythology of mermaids and is kid-friendly — though your children may want to grow fins after this trip.

Massachusetts: New England Pirate Museum (Salem)

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Salem and Boston have dozens of interesting museums, and the New England Pirate Museum is one of the best.

It’s not only filled with artifacts from real pirates, but the wax figures are super cool. Don’t skip the Witch Dungeon while you’re here.

Michigan: Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum (Farmington Hills)

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Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum is sensory overload at its best. There are dozens of coin-operated machines, over-the-top video games, and macabre experiences.

Interestingly, you can check out the neon signs, explore the results of years of collecting vintage toys, and play some of the newest video games without having to pay admission.

Minnesota: House of Balls (Minneapolis)

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The House of Balls is an unusual but super cool art gallery that features work created by artist Allen Christian.

He takes recycled items, including things like crank shafts, pressure cookers, and bowling balls, and transforms them into spooky, strange, and weird art.

Mississippi: Birthplace of Kermit The Frog Museum (Leland)

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It’s a trip back in time to when this favorite puppet came to life! The Birthplace of Kermit The Frog Museum is a museum given to the community by master Muppeteer and Kermit creator, the late Jim Henson.

It’s a fun place to visit, and it is filled with the history of Henson and the frog himself.

Missouri: Branson Celebrity Car Museum (Branson)

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There are over 100 iconic movie and TV show vehicles at the Branson Celebrity Car Museum.

Movie buffs will know these cars easily from movies like The Fast and the Furious and Back to the Future, not to mention Transformers and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Montana: The Dumas Brothel (Butte)

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The Dumas Brothel is a museum housed in what is thought to be the longest-running brothel in U.S. history (it was operational from 1890 through 1982).

The museum displays the history, artifacts, and stories of the people who lived in the area, and the owners host paranormal events to explore the unknown.

Nebraska: Kool-Aid Museum (Hastings)

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The Birthplace of Kool-Aid Museum is an exhibit for anyone who woke up to Saturday morning cartoons with the Kool-Aid Man commercials.

It’s all about the drink’s history and how it became an icon.

Nevada: The Neon Museum (Las Vegas)

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What is Las Vegas known for besides casinos and entertainment? The neon signs up and down the Strip, of course. The Neon Museum pays homage to the history of those signs and has 2.62 acres of Vegas’ technicolor glory days to explore.

Many come from old casinos and historical buildings in the area. This non-profit organization is all about preserving the history of the area.

New Hampshire: America’s Stonehenge (Salem)

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Like the unexplained megalithic structure in England, America’s Stonehenge is also mysterious and fascinating. This archaeological site and local attraction showcases the scattering of large rocks and stone structures.

How did they get there? You can see them up close with a visit. It’s a beautiful site, even if it’s origins are shrouded in mystery.

New Jersey: The Paranormal Museum (Asbury Park)

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Are you fascinated by what happens after death? The Paranormal Museum aims to provide insight and some really cool displays.

From ghost walking tours to a museum of the unexplainable, it’s a strange but deeply interesting look at one of the most talked-about topics in the world: the afterlife.

New Mexico: International UFO Museum and Research Center (Roswell)

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There is no better place to explore aliens than in Roswell, and the International UFO Museum and Research Center offers an epic experience.

Much of it focuses on the 1947 Roswell crash, but there’s a lot of interesting and head-scratching science to learn here, too.

New York: Mmuseumm (New York City)

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The Mmuseum is a thought-provoking, strange museum. It’s focused on the human condition, and unlike other museums, the works of art on display do not tell you what to think but let you imagine them.

The artifacts are in a freight elevator and are typically items that are overlooked or dismissed that shouldn’t be.

North Carolina: Museum of the Bizarre (Wilmington)

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There’s no limit to what you can find at the Museum of the Bizarre, from skulls to unicorn horns. Check out the laser vault and explore the Star Trek-themed instrument panel.

You can see Alexander Hamilton’s Hair and what is thought to be Houdini’s Ouija board!

North Dakota: North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (Medora)

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Cowboys have a fascinating history, and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame helps to tell that story.

Everything from the challenges of ranching in the Wild West to the history of rodeo is on display here. You’ll learn something for sure, but it’s also super cool to learn about the real people who defined this period of time.

Ohio: Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick (Cleveland)

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The Buckland Museum of Witchcraft and Magick is all about the misconceptions and myths (and the reality) of witches.

The collection of artifacts is super cool, and you may even want to stay for a workshop or two.

Oklahoma: American Banjo Museum (Oklahoma City)

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It’s definitely on the quirky side, but the American Banjo Museum is a fun place to learn about the history of this iconic instrument and learn a bit about American music history.

There are numerous collections here and over 400 instruments on display.

Oregon: The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum (Portland)

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This one hits all of the marks from strange to awesome. The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum houses horror displays, sci-fi, and everything you can imagine about the six senses.

Learn about Krampus and cryptozoology and explore the gift shop, where you’ll likely take something strange home with you.

Pennsylvania: Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia)

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Absolutely the opposite of what your mother used to tell you, the Please Touch Museum is all about interactive exhibits.

This one is perfect for the under 10 set — though grown-up kids will appreciate it, too.

Rhode Island: Marble House (Newport)

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Here’s an interesting one for those who love luxury (at least in Victorian style). The Marble House features 500,000 cubic feet of marble and is the epitome of the Gilded Age.

The mansion, built in 1888, is an over-the-top display of luxury and opulence as it served as the summer cottage for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt.

South Carolina: Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum (Myrtle Beach)

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The Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum is an interactive experience at its best, especially for anyone who has spent at least some time in an arcade.

You’ll find just about any pinball machine you remember from the 80s and 90s here, and some that are even older.

South Dakota: Termesphere Gallery (Spearfish)

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The Termesphere Gallery is an interesting museum and an art showcase in itself. It’s all about the 3D revolving art form by the same name.

The artist, Dick Termes, is an acclaimed artist known for its work on intricately designed spheres.

Tennessee: Museum of Appalachia (Clinton)

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Do you want to know what life was like in a working mountain town? The Museum of Appalachia will show you through demonstrations and conversations with local interpreters.

It breaks down some myths and provides artifacts and stories about the people who built these areas.

Texas: Munster Mansion (Waxahachie)

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The Munster Mansion is a replica of the home on “The Munster’s” TV show from the 1960s. Take the guided tour to learn some cool facts.

They even do murder mystery events. What could be more spooky than that?

Utah: Thanksgiving Point (Lehi)

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Thanksgiving Point is a beautiful but fascinating location with five main attractions spanning an outdoor farm and garden.

Step into the Butterfly Biosphere and then the Mountain American Museum of Ancient Life. The Carousel is cool, too.

Vermont: Museum of Everyday Life (Glover)

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While it may not sound all that interesting, the Museum of Everyday Life is quite fascinating.

It’s about celebrating the unglamorous parts of everyday life. There’s a huge collection of everyday items, which celebrates how people attach to objects, and even a puppet show that’s nothing short of strange.

Virginia: Virginia Beer Museum (Front Royal)

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Virginia is home to over 400 years of beer production, and the Virginia Beer Museum celebrates it with a cold one.

You can certainly sample here, but you’ll also get to check out the history and science behind the famed drink. Who doesn’t want to go on this interactive tasting tour?

Washington: Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum (Leavenworth)

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Nutcrackers are not just Christmas decorations, it seems. At the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, you’ll see over 9,000 of them from over 50 countries.

The intro video (and those creepy smiling faces) definitely make this a quirky location to visit.

West Virginia: Mothman Museum (Point Pleasant)

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The Mothman Museum is dedicated to the local legend, the Mothman. From vintage press clippings to some really neat displays, this is a fun experience to have.

There’s an eeriness to this location and to the topic itself, of course. You have to check it out.

Wisconsin: National Mustard Museum (Middleton)

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If you thought Wisconsin’s museum claim-to-fame would be related to cheese, you would be mistaken — it’s actually the National Mustard Museum.

It’s a little quirky and unique, but you will not find a larger collection of mustard in the world, they claim.

Wyoming: Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody)

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The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is a nice, quite well-executed museum that tells the story of the Wild West and Buffalo Bill.

There are actually five separate spaces here, each dedicated to the arts, history, and unique facts that make this region so alluring.

Bottom line

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What’s interesting to you might be super strange to another person, and that’s okay. Throughout the country, there are dozens of quirky, weird, or downright spooky museums that are well worth exploring.

You’ll definitely meet some interesting characters and learn about how unique people are from all walks of life. When saving up for your next vacation, be sure to add one or two of these unique museums to your itinerary.

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