Alternative Amusement: The Quirkiest Theme Parks In The U.S.

Yes, dear readers, that is indeed a garlic carnival ride, just one of the many wonders to be found in our nation's lesser-known theme parks. Why go to Disneyland like everyone else when you can hit Mukluk Land this summer?

Here are a few of the more unusual theme parks that our great nation has to offer:
  1. Gilroy Gardens, Gilroy, CA: I was intrigued when my doctor said he was taking his daughter to "a vegetable-themed amusement park" — we agreed it sounded fun and weird. After reading SF Gate's review of the park, it seems we should have added "enchanting".
  2. Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN: Oh, how I long to go to Dollywood. I love Dolly Parton's music, her autobiography, her cookbook, and her whole Dollyness. NPR makes Dollywood seem even better than I imagined, and I'm so happy that somewhere in the world there's a sign that says, "Management is not responsible for any sudden urges to wear rhinestones and flashy clothes."
  3. Mukluk Land, Tok, AK: Gold-panning ("guaranteed genuine gold!"), skee-ball, "large Alaska cabbage", and a giant Mukluk can all be found at Mukluk Land. I do really like cabbage..
  4. Hemingway Home and Museum, Key West, FL: Love literature and cats? There's finally a place just for you! Hemingway Home and Museum is home to between 40-50 six-toed cats, many of them descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cat, Snowball.
  5. Creation Museum, Petersburg, KY: And now we enter the religious portion of the tour, starting with the Creation Museum. BuzzFeed called it "70,000 square feet of evolution-denying good times". 
  6. Holy Land Experience, Orlando, FL: That photo pretty much sums it up, right? With proper scheduling, you could hit Disney World and the Mother Nature Network-"recommended" Wilderness Tabernacle in the same day. This concludes the religious portion of the tour.
  7. Dig This, Las Vegas, NV: The UK has four Diggerlands, so earth-moving machine fanatics should probably head on over there eventually, but for now there's Dig This. I think they're pretty spot-on when they say, "You know you've always wanted to play on the huge equipment you see on construction sites."

I know there's some I've missed, and I wonder if some of the most interesting theme parks don't even have a website — that's where you come in! I want to hear about your favorite weird amusement parks, and if you've visited any of the parks above, I definitely want to hear all about it.

(All photos as credited above.)

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After many happy years living in tiny apartments in big cities, Tess has found herself in a little house on the prairie. For real.