Unique Outdoor Vacation Destinations

If you’re hoping to have a vacation but want to stay outside and be socially distant, consider visiting one or more of these unique, crazy or downright ridiculous sites across the United States.

Mount Rushmore

While this site is among the most famous US places to visit, it’s a really odd landmark. Busts of presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are portrayed on the side of a mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Each bust is roughly 60 feet tall, and sit in stark contrast to the blue sky, grey granite rock and green vegetation.

Mount Rushmore has been a part of popular culture since it’s creation, including being the location of the climactic scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film North by Northwest starting Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint.

It was designed specifically to increase tourism to the area, and it has worked. Nearly three million tourists visit each year, mostly in the summer months. Visiting in the winter is less popular due to the rough winters of South Dakota.

Mount Rushmore (Birds Eye)
Mount Rushmore

Corn Palace

Not far from Mount Rushmore is the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Known as the world’s only corn palace, it is a multipurpose facility for the community as well as a tourist destination for roughly 300,000 people each year.

The town holds a corn harvest festival in August or September, as well as an annual rodeo and polka festival. The palace is decorated with crop art, with designs crafted out of corn kernels and other grains, with new designs each year.

Corn Palace (StreetView)
Corn Palace

Touchdown Jesus

This University of Notre Dame site is not to be confused with the oddball tourist destination of a large Christ holding his arms up in a lake outside a church in Monroe Ohio. While both are works of art nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus” the Monroe Ohio structure burned to the ground in 2010.

Giant Jesus Christ (Birds Eye)
Giant Jesus Christ

The Theodore Hesburgh Library on the campus of Notre Dame has a large mural called “The World of Life” but because of the large Christ with raised arms at the top, it has become known as Touchdown Jesus. Appropriately, the mural is visible from the football stadium on campus, making it appear that Christ is giving the signal for touchdowns when a team scores.

Touchdown Jesus (Birds Eye)
Touchdown Jesus

You’d have to be a huge Notre Dame fan, football fan or both to put this at the top of your list, but if you happen to be near South Bend Indiana, you should certainly stop by.

Area 51

You can’t actually visit the place known as Area 51 because it’s part of a remote, top secret military base in the desert of Nevada, but that’s what makes it so intriguing. Thousands of tourists each year visit the area famous for holding remains of alleged alien encounters, unexplained sightings and mysterious activities.

A short drive from Las Vegas, Area 51 has been used for military testing of top secret aircraft including the U2 and OXCART. However, many believe it is the site where the remains from an interesting incident in Roswell, New Mexico are stored, as well as objects from other potential extraterrestrial encounters.

You can drop by the area and enjoy small town chatter, swap UFO stories and tour a museum, visit a gift shop, and if you’re lucky, leave with a few phenomenal stories of your own.

Area 51 (Google Maps)
Area 51

Dinosaur Land

Established 150 million years ago, Dinosaur Land, as Vernal Utah has nicknamed itself, is home to Dinosaur National Monument, an area of over 200,000 acres of dinosaur fossils, paleontological sites, petroglyphs and other evidence of life before humans.

Vernal - Utah's Dinosaur Land (StreetView)
Vernal - Utah's Dinosaur Land

Real dinosaur fossils, footprints and other remains are still visible within the park area, and Vernal and the other communities in the rural area provide wonderful accommodations and educational experiences for visitors. Bring jackets because, even though it’s technically a dessert, it gets very cold at night all year round!

Dinoland
Photo Credit: Dinoland.com

Any one of these sites would make for an awesome tale back at home, so fill up the fuel tank, get your best road trip playlist going and set off on a grand American road tripping adventure!

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