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10 Strange Destinations

  • Richard T. Nowitz/CORBIS

    Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California

    For nearly four decades, Sarah Winchester, widowed heiress of the Winchester Rifle fortune, oversaw the construction of a beautiful but bizarre 24,000-square-foot, 160-room Victorian mansion. It's filled with twisting hallways, secret passages, false doors and other inexplicable quirks. But you won't get lost, thanks to the two-hour guided estate tour.

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  • Homestead Resort

    Homestead Crater, Midway, Utah

    Here's an unusual place to relax after a day on the slopes. The "crater" — actually a hollow, 55-foot-tall, beehive-shaped lump of limestone in the heart of Utah ski country — contains a natural geothermal mineral spring, open for soaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. It's part of the Homestead Resort, which has, thoughtfully, created a tunnel entrance leading to water-side decks. Tours are available.

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    AARP Offer: Explore Your World

    Explore Travel with our newsletter filled with tips and ideas to plan the ultimate getaway.
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    FAST Mold Yard, Sparta, Wisconsin

    Behemoth dinosaur heads, enormous dogs, giant sneering devils — all welcome you to the surreal, grassy back lot of a 30-year-old maker of promotional fiberglass statues. A stroll among the sun-bleached molds evokes visits to the carnival fun house. You're welcome to explore the grounds (for free), just resist the urge to climb on the creations.

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  • Forestiere Underground Gardens

    Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fresno, California

    Using only hand tools and imagination, Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere spent four decades creating this subterranean maze of rooms, tunnels, grottoes and courtyards — all patterned after Rome's catacombs. On the hour-long tours, guides discuss Forestiere's architecture, engineering and horticulture skills, and point out the religious symbolism he incorporated throughout.

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    Lily Dale Assembly, Lily Dale, New York

    Visit this leafy compound, and you might end up chatting with your ancestors. Although known for its annual spiritualism assembly, this peaceful hamlet south of Buffalo overflows year-round with mediums and those seeking their counsel. Start your exploration at the museum to learn more about the community's 130-year history; visit the Forest and Healing temples, and follow the Fairy Trail through the woods.

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    Shuttlecocks, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

    Giants seem to be having fun outside this museum, where four enormous badminton birdies are plunked on the lawn. The 19-foot, fiberglass-and-aluminum shuttlecocks — by sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen — are part of the 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park, which has some 30 contemporary works. Admission to the museum and park is free, and so are the tours.

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  • Paul Harris/Getty Images

    Bubblegum Alley, San Luis Obispo, California

    The young and young-at-heart can't get enough of this temple of gross in an otherwise appealing central coast town. Walls of a narrow passageway 70 feet long and 15 feet high are plastered with ABC (as in, already been chewed) wads of gum. Pay a quarter and add your own sticky contribution to the colorful collection.

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    Coal Fire, Centralia, Pennsylvania

    A half-century ago, subterranean coal seams were accidentally ignited, turning a once-thriving coal town into a modern-day ghost town. The weird part is that the fire still burns: Highway 61, which has gaping cracks, is warm to the touch. Although there have been a few holdout residents, most of the buildings lining the streets are deserted.

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  • Corbis

    Roswell, New Mexico

    The International UFO Museum and Research Center's founding was sparked by an alleged UFO crash north of this desert town in 1947. The museum chronicles not only this incident but also worldwide sightings of little green men and other alien phenomena.

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  • Anton Dijkgraaf/Camera Press/Redux

    Memorial Shrines, Aspen/Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado

    Memories mix with knee-deep powder at this acclaimed four-mountain resort, where ad-hoc memorials to legends such as Elvis, Marilyn, Michael and Jerry (that's Garcia for you non-Deadheads) dot the slopes. There's no map, but local skiers know where to find these photo- and memento-adorned sanctuaries.

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