When many people think of the Midwest, they frequently envision corn and wide expanses. While there is some of that, there are a lot of bizarre places to visit, because wherever humans go, interesting things are sure to follow. Here is a list of some of the more unusual stops for your next Midwestern visit.
Bizarre Places To Put On Your Midwest Trip Itinerary
1. The Indiana Medical History Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana
3045 West Vermont Street, Indianapolis, IN 46222
This museum is remarkable to visit in that it is a pathology building that has been preserved exactly as it was over 100 years ago. Formerly serving the Central State Hospital for the Insane, this site is a step back in time, as you get to see teaching amphitheaters, laboratories, doctor’s offices, as well as other relics. The museum is open Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. CST. Guided tours are 1 hour long and the last one leaves at 3 p.m.
2. The John Dillinger Museum
1 Courthouse Square, Suite 200, Crown Point, IN, 46307
Opened in the 1970s, the John Dillinger Museum was first started by private collector Joe Pinkston in his hometown of Crown Point, Indiana, displaying relics of the notorious gangster. John Dillinger is reported to have robbed 24 banks, 4 police stations, and escaped jail twice. It gives a detailed walkthrough of Dillinger’s heyday and the social impact he had during the harrowing years of the Great Depression. Hours vary, but currently they are
Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST between January and February. Last admission is at 4 p.m. The museum is closed Monday-Wednesday. During the winter, there’s a pretty great buy one, get one free deal on all tickets. Adult tickets are $4, and children under 6 get in free.
3. The Matchstick Marvels Museum
319 2nd Street, Gladbrook, IA 50635
This museum was founded by matchstick artist Patrick Acton in Gladbrook, Iowa. Acton uses matches with the sulfur tip removed to create giant replicas of famous buildings, real and imaginary. Some of his famous works are Minas Tirith, Notre Dame Cathedral, Hogwarts, the International Space Station, The World Trade Center, and Steampunk Plane Loco. It’s open every day between April 1st and November 30th from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m CST. Adult tickets are $5 and kids under 5 are free.
4. Galleria de Paco
622 Commercial Street, Waterloo, IA 50702
Paco Rosic had a dream since he was a little boy, and that was to re-create the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Only his canvas is the ceiling of a building in Waterloo, Iowa, and he’s doing it with aerosol. Rosic has gone to Rome to study the artwork himself, though his recreation is about half the size and adorns the ceiling of restaurant Galleria de Paco. Reservations can be made by calling (319) 833-7226. Hours are 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. CST Tuesday- Thursday, and 4:30 p.m. – 12 a.m. CST Friday and Saturday.
5. Grotto of the Redemption
208 1st Avenue NW, West Bend, IA 50597
The Grotto of the Redemption is a functioning Catholic church and is created out of minerals, fossils, stones, gems, and shells. German priest Father Paul Dobberstein began building the grotto to fulfill a promise he made to the Virgin Mary when he was very ill with pneumonia. He prayed that if she interceded and healed him, he would build the grotto. It was built starting in 1912 and continued for 42 years. There are 9 individual grottos, each portraying a portion of the life of Jesus. The shrine is open 7 days a week, but gift shop hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. CST. Mass times can be found on their website.
6. Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz
567 E Cedar Street, Liberal, KS 67901
Located in Liberal, Kansas, Dorothy’s House is located in a 1907 home built to look like Dorothy’s farm house in the original Wizard of Oz movie. Inside are memorabilia and the model of the original farm house. A guided tour with tour guides dressed as Dorothy can be taken through the “Land of Oz,” a 5,000 square foot animated homage to the imaginary land. The Land of Oz even offers a chance to meet the wizard and several of Dorothy’s companions. This is a great experience for kids! Admission prices are available upon request. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. CST and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. CST (closed Mondays). Hours change between Memorial Day and Labor Day so be sure to check those out online.
7. The World’s Largest Ball of Twine
Wisconsin Street, Cawker City, KS 67430
The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas was started in 1953 by Frank Stoeber and as of September 2013 weighs close to 20,000 pounds. There’s a twine-a-thon every year in August celebrating the ball of twine where citizens and visitors can add their own twine to the behemoth ball, and participate in fair-like activities. If you missed the festival, you can call (785) 781-4470 or (785) 781-4713 to set up a time to add your bit of string. Some local businesses also provide twine upon request (especially the Almost Done Inn). The ball is open 24 hours a day for viewing and is thankfully free!
2151 Co Rd 59, Alliance, NE 69301
Carhenge near Alliance, Nebraska was built by Jim Reinders in memory of his father and officially opened in June 1987. However, instead of being made of stones like its English predecessor Stonehenge, Reinders used vintage American cars spray pained gray. The site is open during daylight hours, as well as the visitor center (visitor center hours are 10 am -5 pm), and admission is free.
9. The Enchanted Highway
This 30-mile stretch called The Enchanted Highway in Regent, North Dakota between Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and the city Regent is peppered with large metal sculptures. Miniatures of the statues can be found at the gift shop in Regent. The statues are "Geese in Flight,” "Grasshoppers in the Field," "World's Largest Tin Family," "Pheasants on the Prairie," "Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again," "Fisherman's Dream," and "Deer Crossing." Seeing the statues is free and open at any time.
10. The Corn Palace
604 N. Main Street, Mitchell, SD 57301
The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, is analogous with the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Serving as a large arena, many shows, games, concerts, and productions take place here. The entire building is decorated with crop art, and provides free tours during the summer. There is a festival celebrating the palace every year around August or September, and it also holds a well-known rodeo and polka. Hours change by season so it’s best to look them up online when you go, but usually it’s open around 8 am- 5pm.
This article was written by Lindy Tolbert.