The world is a fascinating place. Every place on Earth has its distinct characteristics, and Texas is no exception. Some characteristics are unique and strange to our human minds. Here are the top 25 most unusual things to see in Texas that you should not miss.
The Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch was built in 1974 by eccentric helium millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 (he disliked the Roman numeral III and thought it was pretentious). Marsh funded the setup of ten graffiti-covered Cadillacs partially buried in a dusty Texas field in collaboration with The Ant Farm.
The cars are nose-down and facing west at the same angle as Cheops’ pyramids. The cars were relocated two miles further in 1997 to avoid the expanding city.
Cadillac Ranch is accessible to the public at all hours and welcomes visitors. Graffiti on the vehicles is also encouraged, and the cars are painted in ever-changing layers.
Cathedral of Junk
Vince Hannemann’s tall Cathedral of junk is hidden in a suburban backyard in south Austin. The skeleton and décor of the structure comprise 60 tons of dumped items, many of which are bicycles.
The Cathedral’s construction began in 1989 when Hannemann was in his twenties. He collected junk for his project for a few years, but it became obsolete when people began to provide him with their unwanted goods.
The Cathedral of Junk is still a work in progress. A three-story tower once stood in the back of the Cathedral, but Hannemann demolished it, believing he had completed his long-term project. Instead of further dismantling the Cathedral, and after a change of heart, he introduced three more rooms to the structure using the pieces of the former tower.
A medieval castle is probably the last thing you’d expect to encounter in a small rural Texas town. Yet one sits, wonderfully out of place, like something out of a fairytale: drawbridge, moat, and all.
With a bakery in Bellville, Mike Newman lives in Newman’s Castle, among the must-visit castles in Texas. The magnificent mansion features a working trebuchet and drawbridge, a great hall, a gator-filled moat, a courtyard, towers, and training grounds. Visitors are guided through the entire castle and encouraged to feel and play with all of the oddities they discover.
Twenty-four different vendors sell their strange and eclectic wares in eye-catching booth exhibits along the corridors at Austin’s premier curiosities shop, which looks like an elegant antique store gone wrong. Remember, this isn’t a museum. This is all for sale.
Uncommon Objects has evolved into the one-of-a-kind bazaar of transcendent junk you see in front of you. Twenty-four hardworking antique sellers have come together under one roof to bring you this authentic and occasionally quirky slice of American history and culture.
From cases of wall-mounted antlers to costume jewelry, rustic furniture to crates of old photographs, pinball machines, old signs, and, most recently, a taxidermy terrier looking exactly like Toto.
Museum of the Weird
According to all accounts, the Dime or Dime Store museum is an endangered species. P. T. Barnum established the first dime museum called “The American Museum” in 1841. It was a departure from high-class science and art museums, catering to a lower-income audience and offering items of a far more dubious nature.
Part of the attraction of the dime store museum was debating what was real and a “humbug,” as P. T. Barnum referred to a hoax or fake display. Feejee mermaids (a fake or “gaff” taxidermy made from a fish and monkey sewn together to form an incredibly ugly “mermaid”) sat alongside real exotic animals and scientific instruments, as did a dog-run loom.
National Museum of Funeral History
The unusual museum, located in a quiet suburb of Houston, Texas, houses an unusual collection commemorating our final farewell.
The museum is an exciting look at the science, history, and art of death, with exhibits ranging from African fantasy coffins to a visual history of embalming. JFK’s actual eternal flame, a diverse variety of funeral programs from prominent celebrities, and a collection of lovely hearses, both motorized and horse-drawn, including a tragic funeral bus that more than lived up to its name, are all part of its one-of-a-kind collection.
The Big Bubble
It’s unusual to come across an inviting BRB (Big Red Button) sitting out in the open, with no warning signs or indication of its purpose. Yet such an enigma can be found hidden in a superficial niche on Houston’s Preston Street Bridge. Proceed to press it.
The button is a piece of an ecological art installation that helps prevent the bayou beneath the bridge from being a bog of the eternal stench by giving it the appearance of the Bog of Eternal Stench. Any passerby can press the button, causing the waters below to bubble and churn as if they had accidentally raised some unholy bog creature.
Waco Mammoth Site
Two men were trying to hunt for arrowheads along the Bosque River in Waco in 1978 when they came across a giant bone. When they took it to nearby Baylor University for examination, they sparked an archaeological dig that would ultimately uncover the remnants of 24 Columbian mammoths that traversed Texas during the Ice Age.
The site contains the most significant known density of Columbian mammoths that died in a single catastrophic event. It’s also the world’s first and only identified nursery herd of Columbian mammoths.
Royse City Futuro House
Fewer than one hundred of Finnish architect Matti Suuronen’s sci-fi-inspired Futuro Houses were ever built, and only about 50 still exist, making the odd spaceship vacation house crumble away in a Royse City, Texas field more desirable than it appears.
The prefabricated Futuro Houses were designed in the late 1960s to be a durable, cheap, and stylish little abode that could be positioned in any environment. The homes, made of fiberglass and plastic, could be disassembled into 16 individual pieces and fastened together wherever the owner desired, from a sunny beach to a snowy mountainside.
The Marfa Lights
In beautiful, desolate West Texas, Marfa is a civilization outpost with modern art by resident artist Donald Judd and an independent bookstore. However, Marfa is also known for some supernatural occurrences, such as the Marfa Lights, which are several mysterious light orbs that float off the highway out of town.
The lights can be seen from a viewing area off Highway 67 just outside of Marfa. On the other hand, their appearance is sporadic at best, and if you see these basketball-sized, multicolored, glowing orbs floating in the distance, consider yourself lucky.
The Dr. Pepper Museum
Dr Pepper, the country’s oldest major soft drink concentrates and syrups manufacturer, was first produced and sold in the US in 1885 in Waco, Texas. No tour to Waco is complete without a stop at the Dr Pepper Museum, which is considered the state drink of Texas.
The museum, known as the “Home of Dr Pepper,” is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features three floors of exhibits, a gift shop filled with Dr Pepper artifacts, and a working old-fashioned soda fountain. The gift shop used to offer Dr Pepper bottled in America’s oldest still-operational plant.
Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata
The Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata, curated and hosted by Scott and Jen Webel, is a knowing yet earnest homage to P. T. Barnum’s dime museums and crowd-pleasing sideshows from an era when pop culture was being formed in the boardwalks and streets of an industrializing age.
A stuffed pygmy kangaroo, a crocodile crying crocodile tears, a narwhal tooth replica, and a double-headed chick are among the natural wonders on display at the museum. A lock of Elvis’ hair, a single strand of hair from Willie Nelson, George W. Bush’s chocolate eyeball, and the butt of Marilyn Monroe’s last cigarette are among the items on display.
The Devil’s Sinkhole
Devil’s sinkhole accurately describes the dark depths and otherworldliness of a vast vertical yawning gap in the limestone bedrock of the Edwards Plateau’s far western reaches. The sinkhole, a National Natural Landmark since 1985, plunges 400 feet and has a 40×60 opening. It is the state’s biggest single-chambered cavern and the third-deepest.
Locals have discovered stalactites, arrowheads, and other treasures from the sinkhole, which is archeological evidence that it was once held sacred by Native Americans. Evidence from the area suggests that the sinkhole was possibly used for the burial of the dead. The sinkhole now serves as a summer home for 1-4 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats.
Terlingua Ghost Town
Terlingua is located deep in Brewster County, near the Mexican border. A small desert community and abandoned mercury or “quicksilver” mining ghost town remain nestled between Big Bend Ranch State Park and National Park.
1890s Alien Gravesite
While it receives little attention today, the small village of Aurora, Texas, was once known as the Roswell of its day following a well-publicized UFO crash in the zone. The pilot is said to be buried in the local cemetery.
The alien’s headstone has since been stolen, but every trace of the Wild West alien sighting remains. The cemetery’s Texas state historical marker still acknowledges the Martian burial with the other honored (and actual) dead buried there.
On a stretch of I-35 near Austin, Texas, futuristic flowers sprout from the edge of a rather mundane retail shopping center. Mueller SunFlowers’ cobalt blue petals stand out against the powdery fog of the endless Texas sky.
The Bracken Cave
Every summer at dusk, bats pour from the ancient sinkhole’s entrance into the skies above Bracken Cave. Between March and October, an estimated twenty million tiny flying mammals make their home in this cave, making it the largest colony of bats and possibly the largest concentration of mammals anywhere.
World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
Bob “Daddy-O” Wade started making 40-foot-tall ostrich-skin cowboy boots on a vacant lot three blocks away from the White House in 1979. He felt that fiberglass and concrete designed to appear like ostrich skin gave the giant duo a true Texan look.
The giant pair was named the world’s biggest cowboy boot sculpture by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016. While not everything is bigger in Texas, Wade can rightly claim his boots are.
You can’t help noticing a three-story gleaming orb perched in their lush garden off Main Street outside the swanky Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas: a hyper-realistic, enormous eyeball, streaky red veins and all.
The piece, titled Eye, was developed by artist Tony Tasset in 2007 for a temporary exhibition in Chicago. It is 30 feet tall and is based on Tasset’s baby blues. It was made of fiberglass by a company famous for making massive, kitschy roadside attractions.
Art Car Museum
Some people wash and wax their cars to keep the finish as shiny and clean as the day they made the purchase. The art car movement means the opposite.
While those who make art cars are still concerned with the appearance of their vehicle, they view the vehicle as a blank canvas where they can create a masterpiece. Among the art car creations is a popular style in which many objects of one type have been fastened on covering the entire car’s exterior, such as cameras, CDs, corks, trophies, and more.
Outside of Austin, Texas, on an unremarkable stretch of Highway 71, is a U-turn worthy destination for the squirrel worshiper in all of us. Ms. Pearl, who stands 14 feet tall, beckons 30 to 100 passersby from the highway each day to have their photo taken with her.
Suppose you’re wondering why she’s clutching a pecan the size of your head. In that case, it’s probably because of the nearby Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company, a family-owned business with a pecan orchard, a gift shop, and a massively adorable squirrel statue.
The Munster Mansion
Many people adored the 1960s TV show “The Munsters,” but none more than Sandra and Charles McKee.
Sandra and Charles McKee have spent the last nine years transforming their Victorian home into a nearly exact replica of the famous Munster mansion from the 1960s sitcom Munster. This house, however, was built in Waxahachie, Texas, rather than the fictional ‘Mockingbird Heights.’
The whimsical and inspiring “Casa Neverlandia” in Austin looks like it was designed by Salvador Dali if he had lived in Morocco and spent his summers learning eastern philosophy at a Tahitian safari camp. It is, in fact, the incredible residence and invention of one James Talbot, who drew on his 40 years of extraordinary life experiences.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
The massive dinosaur statues that now tower over Dinosaur Valley State Park may lead visitors to think that thunder lizards once roamed the area, and they would be correct. However, some of the tracks in the ancient limestone prompted others to believe that humans were walking right alongside them, which is incorrect.
Eclectic Menagerie Park
When driving down Highway 288 in Houston, Texas, be careful not to veer off the road when confronted with the imposing steel creatures and low-flying planes looming outside the Texas Pipe and Supply Company.
The grassy knolls outside of the pipe company are home to a giant daddy-long-legs spider, a friendly-looking King Kong hanging from an unutilized crane, and a massive armadillo with rusted metal plating that looks like it could withstand a bombing.