Sure, the Smithsonian is swell, and the MOMA is marvelous. But if you want a slightly different kind of museum experience, you need to look off the beaten path. Start with some of these somewhat odd (and very entertaining) attractions.
The Neon Museum (Las Vegas, N.V.)
Ever wonder where all of those large neon signs on the Vegas strip go when a hotel or casino goes out of business? Look no further than this sprawling boneyard where you can marvel at the wonders of Las Vegas past. Even better, the guided tours enlighten visitors about the history of select pieces (and provide you with the opportunity for a perfect Vegas selfie).
The National Mustard Museum (Middleton, WI)
If you’re not a fan of the yellow condiment, steer clear of this spot, which is wholly dedicated to the wide world of mustard. Established in 1986, the museum is home to more than 6,000 mustards from more than 70 countries and all 50 United States. And the kicker? Admission is free! Of course, you might need to open your wallet if you want a souvenir from the on-site gift shop, which has—what else?—mustard aplenty.
UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM)
The truth is out there…and in here. Roswell, the home of an alleged 1947 UFO crash, established this museum to tell the story of the incident through photos, videos, and other artifacts.
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum (Gatlinburg, TN)
There’s no shortage of seasoning here—you’ll find more than 20,000 sets of shakers from all around the globe, ranging from classic to kitschy. Admission is $3 but goes toward your purchase of a salt and pepper shaker in the gift shop.
International Spy Museum (Washington, D.C.)
Put on your sunglasses and get ready to go undercover. The International Spy Museum houses the most extensive collection of international espionage artifacts ever put on display. Hear stories from real spies, and go hands-on with interactive exhibits.
Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum (Fort Mitchell, KY)
Ventriloquist dummies: cool or creepy? That’s up to you to decide at this museum dedicated to the mostly-forgotten pastime. You’ll find more than 900 dummies—the largest collection in the world—plus lots of other ventriloquism accessories and historic artifacts.