Missouri November 03, 2015
Here Are The 13 Weirdest Places You Can Possibly Go In Missouri
There are art museums and science museums, botanical gardens and state parks and trails, but when you want something a little more unique, try one of these not-so-typical places to see. Here are a few places you can visit in Missouri that upon first glance may seem a little weird but, upon further investigation, can catch your interest and keep it. Odd sculptures, mannequins, eclectic collections, and miniature worlds await!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Laumeier Sculpture Park, Sunset Hills
Located at 12580 Rott Road in Sunset Hills, the site was donated by Matilda Laumeier in memory of her late husband. The park itself was incorprated in 1977. There are approximately 60+ sculptures scattered throughout the property as well as the 1917 Estate House and a new Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center coming soon. They also have a yearly art fair during Mother's Day weekend featuring art vendors, food and live music. Don’t miss the big eyeball! Created by Artist Tony Tasset in 2007, the eyeball is seven feet tall and is displayed at ground level. For more information, visit
2. Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph
Ever wondered about the history of psychiatric hospitals and their methods? Glare is just the place to find out, with replicas of equipment from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Created in 1967 by George Glore, and once located in a ward of St. Joseph State Hospital, (State Lunatic Asylum #2 until 1899) it was recently moved to a location nearby, with the former asylum now being used as a prison. Currently, the museum sits right outside the prison fence.
Four floors of dioramas spanning the history of mental illness treatments, many quite odd and disturbing and shown in use on female glamour mannequins that have been donated by a department store. As of 2014 the museum is no longer affiliated with the State of Missouri and is now part of the St. Joseph Museum.
Location: 3408 Frederick Avenue, St. Joseph
Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m. (call to verify 816-232-8471)
Admission: Adults $6.00
3. Leila’s Hair Museum, Independence
Located at 1333 S. Noland Road in Independence, Leila’s Hair Museum was created by former hairdresser Leila Cohoon, a member of the Missouri Board of Cosmetology, and avid hair collector. Most of the collection includes hair art, in particular braided wreathes made of hair, a popular decoration in the Victorian era. Hundreds of framed pieces cover the walls, most at least a hundred years old, and are accompanied by odd and historical stories. Other objects made of hair like jewelry, bookmarks, and buttons are also on display.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Closed Sunday and Monday
Admission: Adults $15, Seniors and Kids $7.50.
4. Wax Museum of St. Louis
Madame Tussaud's this is not. Also known as Laclede's Landing Wax Museum, this museum is like nothing you have seen before. Taking up the entire 3 story building with even more to see in the basement and sub-basement (the creepy stuff is down there), there is plenty to see and experience.
720 North Second Street, St. Louis
Hours of Operation: May-October: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; November-April: Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Call to verify 314-241-1155)
5. The Space Museum, Bonne Terre
Earl Mullins, Space Museum curator and founder, is very interactive with visitors and encourages people to touch things, not usual for a museum. Displaying artifacts from space from Earl’s personal collection of rockets, ray guns, spring-loaded moon shoes, and more, together with some objects on loan from NASA, the museum opened in 2005 in a building that once belonged to the Bonne Terre Lead Mine. He rotates exhibits frequently to keep things interesting and offers a one-hour audio tour when he’s not available to be your personal guide.
Location: 116 E. School Street, Bonne Terre
Hours of Operation: Thursday 12-2 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m.(Call to verify 573-358-1200)
Admission: Adults $5.
6. Giant Animal Cluster, Blackwell Motors, Bonne Terre
Blackwell Motors also displays colossal fiberglass animals at its other dealerships, but this location is slightly more impressive. Giant animals are spread throughout the lot. They are often put on trailers and moved around to other Blackwell locations, so just what animals you may see can vary. Steers, a gray elephant with pink polka dots, and a pink elephant with comically oversized eyeglasses are a few that might be seen and available for great photo ops.
Location: 1001 Hwy K, Bonne Terre
7. World's Largest Small Electric Appliance Museum, Diamond
A man named Richard Larrison in Diamond has collected over 7,000 percolators, waffle irons, hot plates, blenders, mixers, razors, hair dryers, popcorn poppers, and fans. The second picture depicts the "hot dog electrocuter", a don’t-miss.
Location: 51 Hwy 59, Diamond
Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Call to verify 417-476-0707)
Admission: Donation to help pay electric bill.
8. Glass Labyrinth - Outdoor Maze of Glass - Kansas City
Designed to be permanent in 2014 and located at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the seven-foot-high walls of one-inch-thick glass form a triangular outdoor maze with only one way in and out.
Location: Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd, Kansas City
9. Dan's Emerald Forest, Overland
Dan Schmidt, a landscaper, began transforming his front yard into a miniature world in the late 1990s, starting with turning his front steps into a waterfall. Visitors can enjoy miniature trees and buildings, and outdoor model trains. It started as a holiday season display, but has grown into a year-round attraction, with changes made periodically, and a mini-world night version as well.
Location: 8851 Windom Ave., Overland
10. Vacuum Museum and Factory Tour, St. James
Located on the lower floor of the Tacony Manufacturing Plant in St. James, the museum is dedicated to memorializing the rise of the modern vacuum cleaner, traced through the decades since 1900. Part of a vacuum cleaner factory that made the Air Force One vacuum for George W. Bush, you can also get tours of the plant itself.
Location: 3 Industrial Drive, St. James
Hours of Operation: Museum- Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Plant Tour- Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Call to verify 866-444-9004)
11. Patee House Museum, St. Joseph
Located next to the house where Jesse James was shot, this museum features quite an unusual collection. A luxury hotel in the 19th century, the red brick building is four stories tall and occupies a full city block. The director of the museum is Gary Chilcote who was one of the first employees of the museum when it first opened in 1963, so he knows his stuff. Inside, you’ll find exhibits like a 1920’s gas station, an Olympic torch, the dentist office of Walter Cronkite’s father, spittoons, WWI howitzer, Missouri license plates, a full size steam train on its tracks, and steam whistles. The eclectic mix of oddities even includes a “murder room”, filled with weapons that have been used by people from St. Joseph to kill people. You'll find an axe a housewife killed her husband with, a hammer used to beat someone to death, and a lynching rope. Besides more grim topics like this, there are shop replicas like a photographer’s shop, an 1880 general store, and an 1877 railroad station. With so much to see and such a strange mix of topics and items, you could spend hours wandering around.
Location: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph
Hours of Operation: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday 1-5 p.m., off-season weekends only. (Call to verify 816-232-8206)
12. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail, Weldon Spring
Just south of Weldon Spring, the largest explosives factory in America once stood and then was later occupied by a plant that refined uranium for Cold War nuclear bombs. Abandoned in the late 1960’s, by the 80’s, the EPA found a mess that they didn’t know what to do with. Full of 1.48 million cubic yards of PCBs, mercury, asbestos, TNT, radioactive uranium and radium, as well as contaminated sludge and rubble,
it is now a man-made mini mountain that you can climb as a tourist attraction. Go figure. Covering 54 acres, a single stairway and path leads to the highest accessible point in St. Charles County at its summit, a place popular with birdwatchers and star-gazers. Underneath the seemingly inhospitable earth is all the nuclear waste that has been entombed, purposely to keep it buried and unable to be disturbed. In the visitor center you can see a cross-section of the hill and its layers. Some are a bit hesitant to climb the cell, unconvinced that their health is not at risk.
Location: 7295 Hwy 94 S., Weldon Spring
Hours of Operation: Cell- 24/7, Visitor Center- Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday 12-4 p.m. (Call to verify 636-300-2600)
13. Lyle Van Houten's Automotive Museum, Clarence
Lyle Van Houten’s appears from a distance to be a working gas station from the past, but upon closer inspection you will find it is instead a museum dedicated to vintage cars and filling stations. Vintage cars sit at the historic pumps filled with mannequins. The interior of the station can be viewed from the large plate glass windows and it is filled with trinkets, photos, artifacts, and mannequin attendants. Lyle Van Houten, the former owner who ran the station for 40 years before turning it into this unique tribute to the past, is a vintage car collector and displays cars like a vintage police cruiser, a sedan, and a taxi filled with appropriately dressed mannequins (expect for the taxi with marching band monkeys…not sure what that’s all about). Another strange feature is that the station is adjacent to a cemetery.
Have you been to any of these places? What was your experience? What are some other weird yet interesting places in Missouri that may not have been included? Share in the comments below.