Summer is a season ripe for road tripping. Whether you need a reason to get behind the wheel, or are simply looking for an intriguing stop on an already-planned route, we’ve got you covered. From crazy collections to epic DIY endeavors to a flea marketer’s fantasy, the hot spots on this cross-country roundup will appeal to crafters and collectors alike. So pack your bags and get those wheels turnin’!
Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum: Alexandria, Virginia
Opened as an actual family business in 1792, the Stabler-Leadbeater apothecary remained operating until 1933. Now it’s a bottle-collector’s dream, full of handblown glass and antique medical equipment, much of which hasn’t been moved since it closed its doors. The museum also houses a fascinating archive of journals, formula books, and prescriptions for some pretty famous folks including Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee.
Roadside America: Shartlesville, Pennsylvania
If tiny things are your passion, plan a visit to Roadside America where you can gawk and fawn over “the world’s greatest indoor miniature village.” Founded in 1939 by Laurence Gieringer, a gentleman obsessed with models, the diminutive panorama now spans 8,000 square feet and each of its eight sections represents a different era in American history.
The Lunchbox Museum: Columbus, Ohio
You can almost smell the bologna sandwiches and too-ripe bananas in this Columbus museum, which houses the world’s largest lunchbox collection. Strawberry Shortcake, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ET, and Spock are here in all their rectangular-tin glory, happy to walk down memory lane (straight to the cafeteria).
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Unsung heroes of kitchen tables the world over, salt and pepper shakers are given top billing at this Tennessee museum, which displays over 20,000 vintage combos. With thematic displays including vegetables, presidential, Disney, and even I Love Lucy, there’s at least one pair that will appeal to each and every visitor.
World’s Longest Yard Sale: From Michigan to Alabama, August 2 – 5, annually.
Bargain hunters, take note: the world’s largest yard sale, which starts just north of Addison, Michigan, and runs to Gadsden, Alabama, is celebrating its 25th year with 690 miles of treasures just waiting to be unearthed.
Ave Maria Grotto: Cullman, Alabama
Talk about a DIY project! This four-acre park is home to 125 miniature reproductions of some of the world’s most famous religious landmarks, including Bethlehem, the Spanish missions, and the Vatican. These exhibits were built by Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk, using mostly found materials like marbles, seashells, glass jars, and jewelry.
Leila’s Hair Museum: Independence, Missouri
Human hair has long been loaded with symbolism and was even used to make jewelry, decorations, and mementos during the Victorian era through the turn of the century (you can read all about it here). Leila Cohoon has been collecting such pieces for more than 50 years; the result is a museum filled to the brim with wreaths, brooches, necklaces, and more. You’ll even find the locks of such famous folks as Queen Victoria and Marilyn Monroe.
The Musee Mecanique: San Francisco, CA
Forget flashing lights and special effects: back in ye olde days, arcade games were much more rudimentary, and mechanic music instruments, automatons, and moving dioramas were the main form of entertainment. You’ll find them all here, where a huge collection of arcade antiques is on display in a warehouse at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Look for Laffing Sally, an automated funhouse character from the ’30s and ’40s who found fame again when Neutral Milk Hotel used a recording of her laugh on their track “Holland 1945.”
The Grier-Musser Museum: Los Angeles, CA
This 13-room restored Victorian house is appealing enough on its own, but the fact that it’s stuffed with ephemera and antique collections makes it even more visit-worthy. The best part is that the displays change with the seasons; come this summer and you’ll find Independence Day memorabilia (including massive amounts of Statue of Liberty fare), visit in the fall and you’ll be greeted with tons of Halloween-themed vintage.
Burlingame Museum of Pez Memoribilia: Burlingame, CA
The Pez museum is tiny, but so are the artifacts it displays. Garfield, Wonder Woman, and Miss Piggy are just a few of the vintage characters you’ll find among its 500+ pieces, and be sure to have your picture taken next to the world’s largest Pez dispenser.
Share your recommendations for interesting road trip destinations in the comments below!
Lisa Butterworth is a writer and editor soaking up the eternal sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not on the hunt for the latest and greatest in girl culture as the West Coast editor of BUST magazine, she's flea marketing, taco trucking, and generally raising a ruckus.