Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

The Weird, <strong>Weird West</strong>

The Weird, Weird West

Washington - Nevada

From the sites keeping Portland weird, to the downright bizarre works of art, the western side of the United States has its fair share of eccentric spots to sample. We’ve picked out a dozen of the West’s weirdest places and compiled them into a US road trip guide, so pack your Tesla coil and prepare for some of the country’s most peculiar passages and curious cruises.

The Weird, Weird West

Stop 1: Gas Works Park 1/13

Gas Works Park

The old Gas Works overlooks Lake Union, on the edge of the freaky Fremont neighbourhood which is home to the huge Fremont Troll sculpture and a statue of Lenin, among other curiosities. The former coal plant has been turned into a beautiful green space that retains most of its distinctive industrial features, and has been made safe via various eco-friendly additions to the soil. Now the park is open for concerts, games or just a good stroll around the old Gas Works perimeter to enjoy some seriously quirky architecture. (Image credit: WikiPedant)

2101 N Northlake Way, Seattle WA 98103

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 2: Ye Olde Curiosity Shop 2/13

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Described by a local newspaper in 1927 as “the world boiled down”, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop opened its doors in 1899 and has since welcomed more than a million visitors every year. The shop displays a large variety of items from many cultures and countries collected over the last century. Taking pride of place in the shop is Sylvester the mummy, thought to be one of the best-preserved human bodies in the world. (Image credit: Joe Mabel)

1001 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98104

http://yeoldecuriosityshop.com/

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 3: Mount Tabor 3/13

Mount Tabor

In the spirit of Keeping Portland Weird, its “urban volcano” – one of only four in the States - has been turned into a forested park. The journey to the top comes complete with hiking trails of various difficulties – and many scenic stops for picnics – up and around the cone. At the summit, Mount Tabor Park includes playing courts for basketball and tennis, as well as some fantastic views of the city below. (Image credit: Robin Zebrowski)

Portland, OR 97215

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 4: Lava River Cave 4/13

Lava River Cave

Take a trip to the site of a volcanic eruption which happened 80,000 years ago to see some of Oregon’s most beautiful natural features. The Lava River Cave is more than 5,000 feet long and curves its way beneath Deschutes National Forest. A guided tour takes visitors a mile deep into the cave to explore its innermost secrets – and the beach-like conditions at the bottom where the steady trickles of sand collect at its lowest point. (Image credit: Dave Bunnell)

Bend, OR 97707

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/centraloregon/recarea/?recid=38396

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 5: Shasta-Trinity National Forest 5/13

Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Home of California’s largest man-made lake, the National Forest is an ideal destination for getting away from the weirdness – for a little while. And although the California climes may not seem like the place for a spot of cross-country skiing, the peaks of Mount Shasta offer just that. In the warmer weather, Lake Shasta provides an ideal getaway, with boating and fishing available alongside some lakeside lazing.

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California

http://www.fs.usda.gov/stnf/

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 6: The Wave Organ 6/13

The Wave Organ

Back to the city – and a musical interlude, with the Wave Organ out in the Marina District. As the tide comes in, listen out for a haunting musical accompaniment created by the rush of water against a set of PVC pipes which engineering maverick Peter Richards had installed in the 1980s. Time and tide have lessened the volume and pitch, but the sound is nonetheless still distinctive – and a hidden gem of the San Fran scene.

83 Marina Green Dr, San Francisco, CA 94123

http://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/wave-organ

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 7: Griffith Observatories Tesla Coil 7/13

Griffith Observatories Tesla Coil

Dr Frederick Finch Strong donated most of the components of his working Tesla coil to the city in the 1930s, and to this day it remains one of the most popular displays at the remarkable Griffith Observatory. Nikola Tesla originally conceived the coil as a way to test his theories about electricity and how it travels – today, tinkerers and other science enthusiasts gather to watch its hourly demonstrations.

2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA, 90027

http://www.griffithobservatory.org/

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 8: The Echo Park Time Travel Mart 8/13

The Echo Park Time Travel Mart

‘Whenever you are, we're already then’ – that’s the slogan of this chrono-centric store which sells trinkets from time periods in the past, present and future. The Time Travel Mart forms part of a national non-profit organisation with a chain of unique stores, with the proceeds going towards child literacy programmes. By shopping here you’re not only helping the kids, but are able to pick up some neat merchandise too – the Michael Jordan pogs alone are worth the trip.

1714 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

http://www.timetravelmart.com/

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 9: McDonald’s Museum 9/13

McDonald’s Museum

This museum celebrates all things fast foody – not surprising given as it stands where the very first branch of McDonald’s was built. There’s a huge collection of merchandise, including decades’ worth of Happy Meal toys displayed in glass cases. Another highlight of the guided tour is the original 1940s menus being displayed – alongside its more recognisable options, the original branch used to offer barbecued beef and hot tamales. (Image credit: Cogart Strangehill)

1398 North E Street, San Bernardino, CA 92405

http://juanpollo.com/route-66-attractions/mcdonalds-museum/

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 10: Atomic Survival Town 10/13

Atomic Survival Town

As you pass through Nevada you’ll find many roads leading to Vegas, but persist and you’ll be rewarded with a walk around an area once used as an atomic testing site both above and below ground. Real atomic explosions have happened in this small ‘village’ out in the desert, and a guided tour can now take you around these sites of devastation. Cameras are not permitted, and the lifting of rocks from the site is strictly prohibited – so no ‘souvenirs’. (Image credit: US Department of Energy)

Nevada Test Site Area 400, Nye County NV

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 11: International Car Forest of the Last Church 11/13

International Car Forest of the Last Church

This unusual roadside attraction came about when two artists joined forces to sow their imaginative seed into the grounds of Goldfield – in the form of more than 40 dishevelled cars in various states of wreckage. With some half-buried in the ground and others stacked like toys, this surreal symbol was dubbed a ‘forest’ by its creators, and attributed to a force more powerful than organised religion.

Goldfield, NV 89013

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 12: Clown Motel 12/13

Clown Motel

If you’ve ever fancied spending the night somewhere surrounded by clowns, then we’ve got just the place for you. From the moment you’re greeted in reception by a life-size clown-like mannequin, you know it’s going to be an unusual stay. The rooms are bedecked in all manner of candystripe decorations and bizarre knick-knacks – but none of this seems to keep the customers away. (Image credit: Famartin)

521 Main St, Tonopah, NV 89049

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The Weird, Weird West

Stop 13: The Republic of Molossia 13/13

The Republic of Molossia

End your trip with a skirt around the edges of Yosemite and head for Nevada’s very own micronation – the Republic of Molossia. Its benevolent ruler, Kevin, offers guided tours of every corner of his nation including Government House (his home) and the rest of Baughton (the capital city, and his garden). Other land purchased in the name of Molossia includes the Desert Homestead Province in California, a small patch of the Pacific Ocean, and Vesperia – 50,000 square miles on Venus. (Image credit: Kevin Baugh)

226 Mary Lane, Dayton, NV 89403

http://www.molossia.org/

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