The American Southwest is unlike any other part of the country. The four states that comprise it have many similarities, yet each is unique. Arizona is a land of stark contrasts, from scorching deserts to snow-peaked mountains. New Mexico may be most famous for its bizarre history of UFO sightings, but dig a little deeper and you will discover a rich history of Native American culture. Many people claim Texas could be a country of its own, and with the state's unusual blend of pristine beaches and dry deserts, outdoor lovers may not want to leave. Oklahoma offers visitors a great taste of true American culture, with beautiful state parks, fantastic music festivals, and the longest stretch of the historic Route 66 in the country. Give yourself time to explore the beautiful Southwest, and make sure to check out these top 12 unusual destinations along the way.
1.) Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley- Of the 54 Titan Missile Sites installed during the Cold War, this one in Green Valley, Southeast Arizona, is the only one that remains. Visitors to the site begin the tour above ground, and eventually head down to view the defunct launching bunkers. The museum is a great place to learn more about the Cold War and the devastating weapons that were nearly used in it.
2.) Berringer Crater, Winslow- This crater, over 500 feet deep and nearly a mile across was formed 50,000 years ago. Arizona's warm climate has preserved the site remarkably well, allowing visitors to see first hand the devastating power that meteors possess. A small museum next to the site explains more about the crater and the family that owns it. The carter is located about 60 miles east of Flagstaff.
3.) Casa Grande Ruins, Coolidge- The history of these ancient ruins are not entirely known. Some scientists believe it may have been an astronomical observatory created in the 1300s. Whatever its purpose, the ruins are sure to impress. The ruins are about 50 miles south of Phoenix.
4.) New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo- This museum, opened in 1976, attracts visitors from all over due to its unique location and fascinating displays. Some things to check out include the International Space Hall Fame plaques, and the massive encased moon rock. The museum is about a three hour drive south from Albuquerque.
5.) International UFO Museum, Roswell- New Mexico has a long history of UFO sightings, so it's no surprise that this museum is one of the most visited in the state. Visitors here can see dirt collected at the Roswell crash site, exhibits of the supposed crashed UFO, and the prop alien corpse from the 1994 movie Roswell: The UFO Coverup. Located in the famous town of Roswell, Southeast New Mexico.
6.) The Four Corners, Shiprock- The Four Corners is the only spot in the United States where you can stand in four states at once. While it is slightly off the beaten path in Northwest New Mexico, this attraction is worth a visit for the photograph alone.
Did you know?? Each October, Albuquerque hosts the world's largest hot air balloon event.
(The Four Corners, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mtnorton/)
7.) Texas Prison Museum, Huntsville- The newly renovated Texas Prison Museum is one of the states most interesting attractions. The museum traces the development of the Texas penal system from its infancy to today. One of the more interesting parts of the museum is seeing "old sparky," the famous electric chair that was used in the execution of 361 prisoners. The museum is about an hours drive north of Houston.
8.) Full-size Replica Ezekiel Airship, Pittsburg- In 1902, Burell Cannon created an airship based off of the Biblical Book of Ezekiel. Legend has it the machine flew for a brief period of time, beating the Wright brothers by one year. A replica of this airship can now be seen at the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Depot and Museum in Pittsburg, Northeastern Texas.
9.) Buckhorn Saloon and Museum, San Antonio- Many visitors to the Buckhorn Saloon and Museum claim it to be one of the strangest museums in the world. It was opened in 1881 by "Texas Bob" Reinhardt, who traded cowboys beer and whiskey for deer antlers. The collection of animal oddities grew, and was eventually turned into a museum and saloon. The saloon and museum is found in San Antonio, Southern Texas.
( Outside the Texas Prison Museum, https://www.flickr.com/photos/57412095@N05/)
10.) Bubble-Top Cars of the Future, Afton- The Bubble-Top Cars of the Future exhibit was created by Darryl Sandbird after building what he believed would be the "car of the future." That prediction did not come true, but the original bubble car is now on display along with dozens of other unique automobiles. The exhibit is about an hour outside of Tulsa, in Northeast Oklahoma.
11.) Toy and Action Figure Museum, Pauls Valley- Anyone interested in action figure memorabilia will love visiting this museum in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. Over 13,000 toys are on display, many of which are still in their original packaging. The museum includes a "bat cave" and playroom for kids. The museum is approximately 60 miles south of Oklahoma City.
12.) Stafford Air and Space Museum, Weatherford- This museum, located in Weatherford, Western Oklahoma, is one of the more interesting attractions in the state. Named after Thomas P. Stafford, one of the astronauts who flew to the moon before Apollo 11, the museum contains artifacts of Staffords achievements including the hatch of the Apollo-Soyuz where he and the Russian Commander famously shook hands during the heat of the Cold War.
(Stafford Air and Space Museum, https://www.flickr.com/photos/26675187@N03/)