Virginia November 06, 2015
Here Are The 16 Weirdest Places You Can Possibly Go In Virginia
For all of the amazing historical homes, beautiful churches and incredible natural wonders Virginia has to offer, don’t think that’s all there is to us. I mean, beauty and elegance are nice and all, but sometimes things just GET. WEIRD. The following list shows you a few of the more “unusual” attractions our lovely state has to offer. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still history and beauty to spare! It just might not take the form you’d expect. Have fun!
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. Dinosaurland, White Post
You simply can’t pass the Disneyland-style sign and NOT stop. I mean really. Who can resist giant fiberglass dinosaurs locked in battle? And if that doesn’t grab your attention, then surely the 70-foot long giant squid will do the trick. A 20-foot high King Kong gorilla, perhaps? For more than 50 years, Dinosaurland has entertained visitors, rubber-neckers and locals alike. Be sure to see all that Dinosaurland offers
2. Drug Enforcement Administration Museum, Arlington
Just say no to drugs, but absolutely say yes to visiting the DEA Museum. Just across from the Pentagon, it’s a truly fascinating look into the DEA, drug addiction and drug law enforcement in America. Exhibits include a replica pharmacy, a head shop and a crack house. Be sure to stop by the gift shop for your very own DEA paraphernalia – that’s your Christmas shopping sorted right there. Visit them at
3. The World's Oldest Ham at the Isle of Wight Museum, Smithfield
Remember how just the other day, you were wondering where you could go to see the world’s oldest ham? Look no further than the Isle of Wight Museum. Home of P.D. Gwaltney’s famous “pet” ham (he made a collar for it and took it to shows – no joke), this museum highlights the history of Smithfield ham, which dates back to 1902. The ham has been featured in the Guiness Book of World Records and remains the oldest edible ham in the world. Plan your visit
4. The Grave of “Stonewall” Jackson’s Arm, Ellwood Plantation, Wilderness
When General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops during the Battle of Chancellorsville, his left arm was so severely damaged that it had to be amputated. A chaplain saw the amputated arm on a pile and, evidently, thought Jackson’s arm to be far too superior to go in just ANY pile of body parts, so he took it to be buried at his brother’s estate, Ellwood. The arm was given a proper Christian burial and a headstone (although there are questions as to whether the arm is still in the same grave today).
5. Little Sorrel’s Skin, Lexington
You’ve seen where Stonewall Jackson’s arm is buried, but where, oh where, can you see the skin of his dead horse, you ask? Lexington, of course. Little Sorrel, Jackson’s faithful steed throughout the Civil War, became a legend in his own right. When Little Sorrel finally went to the big farm in the sky, a taxidermist sewed the skin together and stuffed the hide to resemble a living Little Sorrel. The results remain on display at the VMI Museum, while Little Sorrel's bones are buried on the school’s Parade Ground in front of Stonewall Jackson’s statue. Learn more at the
6. The Pest House Medical Museum at the Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg
The “Pestilence” or Pest House is cited as Lynchburg’s first “hospital,” and by hospital, we mean quarantine facility for people with contagious diseases like smallpox and cholera. The Pest House was built in the 1840s and used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. In 1862 Dr. John J. Terrell noticed the appalling conditions of the place and instituted significant reforms. Visitors can still see his surgical table, “poison chest,” “asthma chair” and chloroform mask in the carefully preserved building. The cemetery also contains the Hearse House and Caretakers Museum, the Station House Museum, a chapel and the Mourning Museum.
to plan your visit.
7. The Giant Skate, Bealeton
I think this one pretty much speaks for itself. Marking the location of Hugo’s Skateway (now Rollerworks Family Skating Center), the 10-foot roller skate made of wood and plaster has been a favorite photo op for travelers along Highway 17 in Fauquier County since it was built in the 1980s. It has seen better days, but let’s be honest – a 10-foot roller skate just off the highway is always going to get your attention.
8. Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond
With its ghostly statue and sombre mausoleums, Hollywood Cemetery has long been considered a haunted site. Some of the more famous spirits include a vampire said to live in the mausoleum of W.W. Poole, the ghost of a little girl who plays with the cast iron dog set to watch her grave and a moaning spirits that come from a pyramid built in 1869 to honor the 18,000 enlisted Confederate troops buried there. All that aside, a walk through the beautifully manicured gardens of this historic graveyard is oddly peaceful - and well worth the visit. Visit
to learn about visiting hours and walking tours.
9. Miniature Graceland, Roanoke
Can’t make it to Graceland this summer? No worries. Beginning in the 1980s, Don and Kim Epperly of Roanoke decided to immortalize their love of Elvis with a miniature Graceland in their own front yard. Complete with replica buildings and a bronze statue of The King himself, the tribute still stands, but admittedly fell into disrepair after Don Epperly grew to sick to care for it. Thanks to the efforts of the Salem Garden Club and now Epperly’s son, Mike, the site has been cleaned up a bit and visitors can still catch a site of Graceland in all of its (miniature) glory.
10. Shenandoah Caverns: Bacon and Parade Floats…of course, Quicksburg
Giant Bacon. And now that I have your attention, let’s talk Shenandoah Caverns. Shenandoah Caverns is home to the Giant Bacon formations – formed by dripping minerals that resemble everyone’s favorite breakfast treat. And thanks to owner Earl Hargrove, outside the caverns is just as awesome as inside. Walk through the Yellow Barn and see a 35-foot high treehouse that is home to 5-foot squirrels (not real ones, thank goodness), peruse 27 full-size float parades from The Rose Parade, Inaugural Parades and more, and finally, check out Main Street of Yesteryear for department store window displays from the 1940s and 50s. Find out hours and directions by visiting
11. Giant Watering Can and Flower Pots, Staunton
Willy Ferguson of Ferguson's Metal Fabrication in Staunton either has REALLY tall friends or is REALLY into gardening. Either way, this metal-working artist created a giant watering can and accompanying flower pots to grace the intersection where I-64 joins I-81. The "lawn ornaments" created quite a controversy when they were first installed in 1999, but today, serve as a city landmark.
12. The Small Church, Wytheville
Dedicated in 2010, Wythville's Smallest Church came about from an experience that its founder, Brian Wolford, had at a similarly tiny church in Georgia. After realizing how close he felt to God being in such a small space, he set about creating his own Small Church. And when I call this one "weird," it's more just "unusual" due to its 12 x 16-foot dimensions. But with the intention of providing a place of peace and solace for anyone who passes by, this church certainly seems to be fulfilling its mission. Visit
Wytheville's Smallest Church
to learn more.
13. Bull Run Castle, Aldie
They say a man’s home is his castle – but for John Miller, a castle was his home. Tired of working for others, John Miller quit his job in 1986 and set about livin’ the dream – and that meant building Bull Run Castle, an castle/antique store/bed-and-breakfast combo right off Route 15 in Loudoun County. Miller has since sold the property and it is closed to the public. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look! It may not be Windsor Castle, but it definitely provides a distraction from the afternoon commute.
14. Swannanoa, Nelson County
In 1912, Richmond millionaire and philanthropist, James Dooley, built Swannanoa as a summer home. The Italian Renaissance Revival villa featured the most lavish, modern fixtures available, such as Georgian marble, gold plumbing fixtures, an elevator, electricity and a 4,000 piece Tiffany stained-glass window made in the likeness of his wife, Sally May Dooley. Today, the house is privately owned, but hosts small group tours, open houses and weddings - as well as more than one paranormal investigation. Find out how you can visit at
15. Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond
Located in downtown Richmond, just a few blocks from his childhood home, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum opened in 1922 and continues to show the world’s finest collection of Poe's furniture, artwork, family photographs, first-edition books and manuscripts. The “Poe Shrine” can be found behind the house in the Enchanted Garden, an historical garden inspired by his poems. I’m not sure what sort of omen it is to get married at the Poe Museum, but the garden frequently hosts weddings, as well as a monthly “Unhappy Hour.” I am sure the two are not related. Learn more at
16. Foamhenge, Natural Bridge
You thought I was going to forget this one, didn't you? Nope. Just saving the best for last. There are few who don't know about this replica of England's Stonehenge built entirely from styrofoam. As one of the most popular and beloved "weird" Virginia attractions, Foamhenge has received national attention since artist Mark Cline first built it as an April Fool's Joke in 2004. Visit
to learn more.
From roadside attractions to off-the-beaten path discoveries, we know that Virginia is full of weirdly wonderful sites. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever visited in the state? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!