4. Tinkertown Museum (Sandia Park, N.M.)
Surely unlike anything you've seen, the Tinkertown Museum "folk art environment" includes a massive collection of carved wooden figures, mechanized dioramas and funky Americana begun by a man named Ross Ward back in 1962. It's now a weirdly compelling must-see for roadside attraction buffs, just a half-hour drive from Albuquerque — and very far from normal.
5. Spark Museum of Electrical Invention (Bellingham, Wash.)
The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention has a lightbulb made by Thomas Edison (it's burned out), antique radios, vacuum tubes, telegraphs, a static electricity laboratory and a replica of the Titanic radio room. But the biggest attraction here is the Lightning Cage, a screened metal ball in which visitors sit while a Teslacoil bombards them with bolts of electricity. Don't worry, it doesn't hurt.
6. Titan Missile Museum (Sahuarita, Ariz.)
Enter the Titan Missile Museum through the concrete-reinforced belly of an atomic missile launch base for the chance to see a decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo — a powerful memento from the Cold War. On hour-long tours a guide will sometimes offer a visitor the chance to turn the actual key that once would have led to mutually assured destruction.
7. The Gilmore Car Museum (Hickory Corners, Mich.)
A small-town guy named Donald S. Gilmore started this collection of vintage cars 50 years ago, and now the Gilmore Car Museum is a key stop for auto geeks and nostalgia trippers. The museum displays some 400 cars and motorcycles, including rarities like the 1911 Stanley Steamer. You can also check out a re-created service station, circa 1930; a London double-decker bus and an authentic 1941 diner.
Christina Ianzito writes on travel, entertainment and lifestyle for AARP Media.
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