Weird and Wacky

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    Check out the following offbeat locations, weird attractions and wonderful people to discover.

    We're sure you'll soon be collecting friends and family to join your annual pilgrimage to your favorite funky destinations.

    These sites are great fun for intergenerational trips, too.

    Shenandoah Valley | Northern Virginia | Central Virginia
    Hampton Roads | Eastern Shore | Heart of Appalachia
    Blue Ridge Highlands | Southern Virginia | Chesapeake Bay 

     

     

    Shenandoah Valley

    dinosaurs at Dinosaur Land Ask your kids/grandkids the names of the dinosaurs and how they became extinct. 

    White Post - Virginia's Dinosaur Land is home to about 37 fiberglass prehistoric creatures ranging in height from 3- to 30-feet tall and as long as 90 feet.

    The man who built Dinosaur Land in the 1960s was Joseph Geraci, which sounds like the movie, Jurassic Park. Be sure to bring your camera and plenty of film to this quirky attraction.

    organist at Luray Caverns This is not Mr. Sprinkle. 

    Luray - Luray Caverns is home to the World's Largest Musical Instrument, a stalacpipe organ that plays Oh, Shenandoah. Mr. Leland Sprinkle explored the vast chambers in the caverns searching for the perfect music tones on the stalactites in 1954. He then wired the stalactites with rubber-tipped mallets and connected the individual wires to an organ. Something very special awaits visitors when they hear the cavernous tune.

    Mr. Sprinkle's name probably influenced his choice of hobbies, as driplets of moisture actually cause the formation of the stalactites themselves!

    Note to photographers: Be sure to put an upright person in your pictures so you can tell afterwards whether you shot stalactites or stalagmites.

     
    bacon formations on the walls of Shenandoah Caverns See the giant slices of bacon at Shenandoah Caverns 
    American Celebration on Parade is a collection of parade floats, props and state settings from America's entertainment and political history. See retired parade floats nextdoor! 

    Shenandoah Caverns - Where in the world can tourists go to see retired parade floats and big slices of bacon all in the same location?

    Impossible, you say? Well, not so in Virginia!

    Then . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Go to Shenandoah Caverns after breakfast and by lunchtime get your picture taken on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float at American Celebration on Parade! 

     

     

     

    foamhenge on the hill in Natural Bridge, Va. Do tell. Are we in Amesbury in Wiltshire? 

    Natural Bridge - See Professor Cline's Foamhenge, a complete replica of England's Stonehenge, but totally made out of foam!

    This massive masterpiece opened unofficially on April Fool's Day and ready for bus loads of tourists! Bring your camera; fool your friends!

    Lexington - To see a famous stuffed horse like "Trigger", visit Virginia Military Institute Museum where Little Sorrel is a wonder horse of taxidermy. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was riding Little Sorrel when he was mortally wounded at Chancellorsville.

    Stuffed horse Very few horses in this world get stuffed. 

    Little Sorrel died 23 years later at the age of 36. Little Sorrel's bones were cremated and interred on the VMI grounds in 1997. You can ask where those bones had been kept for 130-odd years when you visit.

    New Market - See the huge Johnny Appleseed Statue in front of the Johnny Appleseed Restaurant and then go inside and try the apple fritters. This just might be the highlight of your entire vacation . . .

     

    Northern Virginia

    marker on arm grave Arm Grave 

    Fredericksburg - The Lacy family cemetery at Ellwood is the final resting place for Gen. Stonewall Jackson's amputated arm.

    The cemetery is now part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Visitors who wish to visit the arm grave must first check in at the Chancellorsville Battlefield visitor's center.

    Civil War buffs can tell you all the why-fors surrounding the decision to bury his arm separate from the body . . .

    Arlington - Another unusual place to visit is the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum is the only Museum in the country focused on drugs, drug abuse and drug law enforcement.

    Located across from The Pentagon, visitors can learn the history of illegal drugs in America from the opium dens of the 1800s, the '60s drugs — marijuana, amphetamines and psychedelics — to present day designer-type drugs.

    Enjoy replicas of a drug store, head shop and crack house! Also, be sure to visit the gift shop featuring DEA Beanie Babies, DEA Christmas ornaments and fine DEA jewelry with the Special Agent emblem. Only in America . . .  

    headless Lenin statue Another headless Lenin statue 

    Arlington - Almost all of them are in Russia, but there's a headless Vladimir in Virginia, too! Go to Freedom Park in Arlington and see it toppled over next to segments of the Berlin Wall.

    biplane at Flying Circus Airshows in Bealeton, Va. Take an open-cockpit ride after the show! 

    Bealeton - See the Flying Circus Airshows in Fauquier County every Sunday from May - October. Just like the old Barnstormer shows, you'll thrill to the whirling daredevil stunt pilots, crazy wing-walkers like in the 1920s and skydivers and hot-air balloons falling out of the sky! You can even pay to ride in a biplane after the show.

     
     
    building shaped like a milk bottle Richmond's own Milk Bottle building 

    Central Virginia

    Richmond - The Richmond Dairy Co., a four-story milk bottle, is now an upscale container of 113 apartment units in the Jackson Ward neighborhood.

    According to Milk Bottle News, an actual Website from the United Kingdom, not many milk bottle architects are left on this planet.

    kugel orb This 29-ton granite orb can be moved by mere mortals with just a touch of a finger! 

    Richmond - Ever hear of a kugel? Us, neither! But we've got a kugel in Virginia! Just head on over to the Science Museum of Virginia to see it up close. Touch it, make it move, kiss it like the Blarney Stone. You won't believe it! While you're there, see some other weird things inside!

    Schuyler - Visit the set of The Waltons on Walton's Mountain in the childhood town where the author of the series, Earl Hamner Jr., grew up. See where John Boy escaped from the rest of the family and wrote all his stories. Notice there's no TV in his room or video games; no posters, even.

    John Boy's bedroom John Boy liked looking out his window at Walton Mountain while he wrote at his desk. 

    See the parlor and the kitchen where everyone congregated — Mary Ellen, Jim-Bob and the rest of the kids alongside Grandma and Grandma and Grandpa Walton, Olivia & John.

    Visit Ike Godsey's General Store, too. sniff . . . it will bring back memories of when you watched the show on TV and ate lunch from your Walton's lunchbox and played with your Walton's paperdolls. (If you still have those items they are now worth a small fortune!)

    Amelia - Find those gems and take home a 5-gallon bucket full of them for just the price of admission to the Morefield Gem Mine! The tourquoise-colored amazonite is plentiful here. Other gems include garnet, topaz, feldspar, pyrite, quartz and a huge mound of polished marble, like stepping stones for your garden. Closed from mid-July to late September.

     

    Hampton Roads

    bronze statue in Smithfield Smithfield is home to some nice bronze people, too. 

    Smithfield - Guinness World Records officially named Smithfield's 250th Anniversary Ham Biscuit as the World's Largest! 

    See the interactive-screen exhibit of this 2,200-pound delight at the Isle of Wight Museum, where you can also see the World's Oldest Smithfield Ham — 105 years old — protected in a glass case in one of the museum's ham galleries. Be sure to ask which ham gallery.

    Surry - In July, Chippokes Plantation State Park is the site for this popular festival named after three of Virginia's primary "P" products — the Pork, Peanut & Pine Festival. Lofty Loblolly Pines surround the park, and a barnyard of exhibits honor industries related to pork, peanuts and pine.

    Visitors can buy pork chops, pork rolls, pork rinds, cracklings, ham, sausage and barbecue pork along with salted peanuts, peanut candy and peanut pie for dessert. Other attractions include more than 200 arts and crafts booths and entertainment by country, bluegrass and gospel groups. You'll get a kick out of this panegyric event!

    Waverly - See a peanut-sized museum devoted to the Virginia peanut at The First Peanut Museum. See peanut artifacts, such as peanut critters, antique peanut tools and peanutty displays of local products for sale down the road at peanut shops. Waverly is where the very first commercial peanut crop was grown in 1842. Did you know that the peanut is not really a nut? It's a legume like a pea!

    people at Hermit Crab table Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge 

    Virginia Beach - Also in July, is the Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge that begins with a beauty pageant for the Miss Curvaceous Crustacean. The pageant is followed by preliminary racing heats to qualify hermit crabs for the Championship Race and the coveted Order of the Mercury Claw trophy!

    This, like most all Virginia Beach events, is free and open to all hermit crabs, their sponsors and adoring public. If you don't know a hermit crab, you can buy one from one of many shops along Atlantic Avenue.

    Virginia Beach - Mount Trashmore Park evolved from a landfill. Three flagpoles serve as vents for methane gas . . . but it's really quite pretty and a nice place for a picnic.

    Virginia Beach - The Edgar Cayce Institute Association for Research and Enlightenment is dedicated to the guy who went into trances and diagnosed many a health problem and a cure for those who consulted him. He loved Listerine® for just about everything.

    ponies swimming The swimming ponies of Chincoteague 
     

    Eastern Shore

    Chincoteague Island - Ever hear of saltwater cowboys? Instead of rounding up herds on the western plains, Virginia's cowboys round up about 150 wild ponies from Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and swim them across a 100-yard channel at the Annual Pony Swim & Auction. This incredible feat is something that

    The ponies are the cutest little critters and appear somewhat chubby due to their diet of wild marsh grasses and lots of water. The first foal to reach the shore is named King or Queen Neptune. Also, while you're in town, stop by the Beebe Ranch where the real Misty of Chincoteague is stuffed along with her foal Stormy, a real offbeat attraction well deserving of your time and attention.

    Wachapreague - Wouldn't you love to tell your friends that you plan to vacation at the
    Wreck and Bone Island Natural Area Preserve? Sounds like a really spooky pirate haunt, doesn't it? It's only open to people during Sept. 1-April 14, and is accessible from the town of Oyster.

    book jacket Big Stone Gap, the book 
     

    Heart of Appalachia

    Big Stone Gap is a city in Virginia as well as the title of a book by Adriana Trigiani. The book is about fictional pharmacist Ave Maria Mulligan, who worked at the Mutual Pharmacy and served as a director in the Trail of the Lonesome Pine outdoor theatre. It is now being produced as a major motion picture filmed in Big Stone Gap!

    See other landmarks mentioned in this best-selling book when you visit the town. Folks in Big Stone Gap love talking about "Adrie" — who actually grew up in Big Stone Gap in the '70s — and the bizarre characters in the book based on real live townsfolk!

     

    Blue Ridge Highlands

    folks dancing at Floyd Country Store Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd Country Store 

    Floyd - Remember reading about the old-time general store, where folks stopped by to play checkers, catch up on the local gossip and get a cold coke from the cooler? Well, the Floyd Country Store was that place you read about and is now home to the Friday Night Jamboree with mountain music and dancing.

    Folks in Floyd invite y'all to sit a spell. If you can't get inside, just meander down the street a bit and listen to one of the many groups playing outside. The Washington Post described Floyd as "somewhere along the way to the 4-H Fair, Floyd took a left turn into the Age of Aquarius." Also, "It's a place where there's a united interest in preserving Floyd's unique and quirky character"!

    Dugspur - Mead was man's first fermented drink, popular in the Old Country where your ancestors lived. The Blacksnake Meadery specializes in making this wine out of honey instead of grapes. The Did you know that barrels-full of mead makers are spouting up around the country? Mead has about 10-12 percent alcohol, compared to wine's 8-10 percent and beer's 4-8 percent . . . could be the reason.

    Bristol sign Birthplace of Country Music 


    Bristol -
    Depending upon what side of the street you're standing on, you could be in Bristol, Tennessee or Bristol, Virginia. The town is run by two separate governments! Bristol is the place where country music was born, and both southern states can take credit.

    While you're there, and have fun sleeping in one state, eating in another, going back to the first state, and then picking up souvenirs from both! And who says you don't know how to party?

     

    Chesapeake Bay

    three goats on the Goat Walk Goat walk at Westmoreland Berry Farm 

    Oak Ridge - Last but not least of weird and wacky wonders is the Goat Walk at Westmoreland Berry Farm. Seeing is believing! These aren't mountain goats like seen in the alps, but just typical farm goats that climb up 20 feet off the ground just to get a Cheeto.

     

    This list of Wacky Wonders hopes to grow with the passage of time, so if you don't see your favorite Virginia oddity on the list, contact us . (Please, tourist attractions only.)

Last Updated: 2/21/2014 3:27 PM
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