Arizona is its own unique corner of the Southwest, and many of its residents are proud to call themselves weird. Tucson is one of a few cities to adopt the “Keep Weird” mantra, and the entire state offers plenty of strange and distinctive sites that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Though Arizona is often recognized for its stunning geological features—from the Grand Canyon to the red rocks of Sedona—it offers plenty of charm throughout the manmade attractions in the state. Below, you can get a preview of some of the most memorable roadside attractions and tourist destinations for those seeking a taste of the local culture.
For hundreds of miles in either direction from Exit 322 on Interstate 10, drivers will be greeted by bright yellow billboards adorned with the words “The Thing? What Is It?” Of course, we can’t tell you exactly what it is; you’ll have to pay the one dollar admission to enter the mysterious exhibit, where you will be treated to a distinguished collection of art, antiques, and one-of-a-kind artifacts before laying eyes on The Thing? itself. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming location of The Thing?, which is housed in a series of corrugated steel sheds behind a gas station. Your life will forever be changed once you’ve finally seen it, but rest assured, you can remember your visit to this world-famous roadside attraction with a signature bumper sticker, a common feature on Arizona vehicles.
The daunting size and age of the Meteor Crater is enough to make anyone feel like a speck of dust on a tiny marble floating through space. This well-preserved meteorite impact crater near Flagstaff reflects Arizona’s love affair with the skies—which often offer some of the clearest views of the stars. It measures one mile across and is more than 550 feet deep, and it is the lasting memory of an asteroid that struck the Earth over 50,000 years ago. When you stop to see it, you can explore multiple observation points and see the amazing geological features that have developed from the impact.
Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
Sometimes, you just want to take relish in the little things, and that is exactly what you can do at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. This Tucson museum showcases more than just basic dollhouses. It features impressive displays of miniature displays representing historical events, famous landmarks, and well-known works of fiction. Though each exhibit is incredibly tiny, you could spend hours trying to catch every detail as you explore the museum halls.
The Shady Dell
The town of Bisbee already has a reputation for weirdness. This small, artsy community located southeast of Tucson delights visitors with a unique selection of crafts, art galleries, vegan eateries, and historical sites. It’s also one of the most amazing places to stay the night, because there are so many lodging choices. Not to be missed is The Shady Dell, which will allow you to travel back in time staying in a trailer court where each guest room is a restored and fully decorated vintage trailer. From the Tiki-themed Chris Craft Yacht to the majestic 1955 Airstream, guests have their choice of beautiful accommodations all with their own outdoor patios.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post
Beckoning travelers from far and wide to stop in for rest and refreshments, a large sign reading “HERE IT IS” stands tall over the Jack Rabbit Trading Post, which has been in operation since the heyday of Route 66. This curio and gift shop is a great place to stop for souvenirs and roadside refreshments, but most visitors will not be finished with their visit until they’ve mounted the large fiberglass jack rabbit for a photo.
Chloride Ghost Town
In the historic section of Chloride, you might be fooled into thinking that you are standing in a typical abandoned mining town, which harkens back to the adventuring lifestyle of the Southwest. Just a short drive from the epicenter of town, however, you can find something much more bizarre. The junk art of Chloride provides an odd and interactive art display featuring a gas tank flamingo cage and a large metallic spider. You can also gaze upon some impressive outdoor murals that were painted in 1966. Though slightly weathered, the Murals of Chloride cover 2,000 square feet of cliffside.
At Pennington Creative, we are proud to be a part of the weird yet lovable state of Arizona. Our Tucson office has a weird history of its own, as it used to be the residence of undertakers who once ran a funeral home downstairs. From our odd office, we produce tons of great content to boost the web presence of local businesses, and we are happy to discuss your content needs too. Visit our website to see more about what we do.