Who says family road trips have to be all about National Parks and historic sites? Have fun on the road this summer when you check out some of this country's ultimate tacky tourist sites, just make sure that you pack well for the road trip. Some people catch these sites if they're passing by, while others make it their ultimate vacation destination. To many road travelers, it's what makes an American vacation complete. Here are 10 of the top American tacky tourist sites.
Liberace Museum. Las Vegas, Nevada. Actually comprised of two buildings, this museum houses many of Liberace's outrageous mementoes and personal belongings. It provides a great opportunity for tourists to reach their saturation point of glitzy glamour and relentless eye candy. Some of the outlandish items on display at Liberace's museum include his red, white and blue Bicentennial hot pants, his pink Rolls Royce/Volkswagen Beetle bejeweled with mirrors, and his grand piano console stereo. Here you can also view the World's Largest Rhinestone. As large as a human head, this rhinestone sits supremely on a bed of purple satin for all to see. The museum is located at 1775 East Tropicana Avenue.
Museum of the Weird. Austin, Texas. This recently opened attraction is described by curator Steve Busti as "an homage to the dime museums of American culture," which were originally made popular by P.T. Barnum in the late 19th century. This museum reveals unusual curiosities such as a two-headed chicken, shrunken heads, and even a Fiji mermaid. So if you find yourself passing through Texas this year, check out Austin's tackiest new attraction at 412 E. 6th Street and get a peek into the world of traveling sideshows for an admission of only $3.00.
Miniature Graceland. Roanoke, Virginia. While a visit to Graceland is a historic experience, a trek to Mini Graceland, also known as Elvis City, is surely a tacky tourist indulgence. One visitor described Miniature Graceland as slightly shabby but fun to see. Another reports that "the statue of Elvis has spider webs on it, and the mini-marquee is missing a letter or two" so don't expect decadence during your visit, but you will recognize the heartfelt tribute to the King created by Don Epperly in his front yard. Located at 605 Riverland Road, this attraction has recently undergone some renovations by the creator's son, Mike Epperly, who hosted an Elvis Christmas in December 2006 complete with Christmas lights and holiday music. He is also planning a candlelight ceremony on August 16th, 2007 in honor of the death of Elvis Presley.
Tacky Delta Casinos. Tunica, Mississippi. Casinos are generally designed to be tacky, but if you're looking for the crème de la crème, you need to visit Tunica, the South's Casino Capital… but conduct some careful research before choosing your hotel. Some visitors raved about their stays at the Gold Strike Resort, for example, while others found their rooms run-down and generally uninviting. All agreed on the excessively tacky décor. Tunica is home to nine huge themed casinos and was described by one visitor as: "Unbelievable. For those who cannot go to Las Vegas should find a map and get to Tunica. It is as if the hand of God plucked 8 or 9 of the tackier casinos out of LV and put them on the Mississippi Delta. A must-see" (Paul Fassbender). For tourist information, you can visit the Tunica, Mississippi website.
Da Tourist Trap&Museum in Yooperland. Upper Peninsula, Michigan. First, one must understand that a "Yooper" is a person born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, also known as Yooperland. Considered one of the seven wonders of Yooperland, Da Tourist Trap draws large large crowds each year that revel in the tacky nature of this self-identified tourist trap. Yoopers, who obviously have a tremendous sense of humor, pride themselves as being resourceful and innovative; these traits are illustrated by some of the unique attractions housed there.
World's Only Corn Palace. Mitchell, South Dakota. Imagine what you could build with 275,000 ears of corn. A palace, of course! Established in 1892, this palace was originally created to display local farmers' successful harvests to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil. Today, South Dakota residents spend $100,000 annually to rebuild this corn palace, using grass, grains, and oats to fill in between ears of corn, creating an amazingly tacky attraction. This palace, advertised as a tourist destination on hundreds of billboards on I-90, contains murals created by local artists who depict a different facet of South Dakota life each year and conveys the residents' state pride. The facility hosts stage shows and sports events and serves as a meeting ground for locals as well as a tacky tourist site for travelers.
Carhenge. Alliance, Nebraska. Many may feel that it's no wonder the residents of Alliance originally wanted to tear down this massive recreation of England's Stonehenge and that the authorities wanted to erect a fence around it and call it a junkyard while others feel awed by this quirky and eccentric structure made entirely of…. cars! Spray-painted grey and erected in a circle 96 feet in diameter, these cars mimic a natural wonder. Identified as America's best known Stonehenge, this recycled car sculpture was created by artist Jim Reinders from 38 cars rescued from local farms and dump sites. "Carhenge's uniqueness, novelty and unusual components continue to draw the attention of film and television production crews as well as over 80,000 tourists from all over the world." Find out more by clicking on www.carhenge.com.
Mallory Square. Key West, Florida. While no one is going to consider a serene sunset "tacky," the ambiance created each night on the pier of Mallory Square certainly is! The hoards of visitors typically battle with the competing sites of a beautiful sun setting slowly over the ocean with that of performances of colorful jugglers, trapeze artists and mimes holding hats welcoming tourist dollars. Whether you'd like to get your palm read, have a caricature drawn of you and your best friend, watch trained housecats jumps through flaming hoops or purchase a banana leaf hat to wear as you stroll down the pier, this is the place to indulge in your tropical fantasies. But beware! At every turn you'll be encouraged to dole out tips for the diverse array of performances.
Santa's Land. Cherokee, NC. Imagine what it would feel like to experience Christmas all year long. At Santa's Village, you can enter Santa's House and see his elves preparing for next Christmas. Or visit Frosty's Place, which is really just a themed gift shop. Jingle Bell Theater offers 30 minute magic shows each day. Fun Land offers rides that will amuse toddlers, at best. The Zoo features many animals, such as reindeer, baby bears, goats, and monkeys, some of which children can feed themselves. Although young children will delight in the "enchanted" sites, parents can quickly notice the slightly run down attractions will offer only fleeting appeal.
South of the Border: Pedroland Park. If you've driven on I-95 anywhere near the Carolinas, you couldn't have helped but notice Pedro, the mustached mascot of South of the Border, waving from the raucous billboards advertising Pedroland Park, located on 135 acres just south of the border between North and South Carolina. A famous rest stop known for its fireworks sales at Pedro's Rocket City, South of the Border also boasts numerous restaurants, including the Sombrero Room Restaurant, a view from Sombrero Tower, and access to Pedro's Pleasure Dome, which offers an indoor pool, steam room Jacuzzi and even a wedding chapel. In case you hadn't expected to stay so long in such a tacky tourist sit