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9 of the World’s Weirdest Museums

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While museums dedicated to Spam and barbed wire are strange in their specificity, some museums are just plain bizarre in their subject matter. Here are some of the weirdest museums ever curated.

1. Leila’s Hair Museum


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These days, the idea of hair jewelry seems like something that should be left to stalkers and serial killers, but during the Victorian Era, it was common to create and wear jewelry made from hair—especially the hair of loved ones. Leila’s Hair Museum features a variety of hair wreaths and jewelry pieces from the Victorian period and earlier, dating all the way back to 1680. They even have pieces containing hair from Queen Victoria, U.S. presidents and Marilyn Monroe.

The owner, Leila Cohoon, teaches classes on turning hair into jewelry and artworks. Of 30 known techniques demonstrated in the museum’s collection, she has mastered 26 and is still working to reverse-engineer the processes for the last four.

2. Icelandic Phallological Museum

You can probably guess what’s hidden behind these doors, but you’d still probably be surprised by the extent of the museum, which houses the largest collection of penises, penile parts and penile-inspired art in the world, including 280 specimens from over 93 animal species. There are even specimens from elves and trolls, but they are invisible just like the rest of the creatures, according to Icelandic folklore. While they currently have one human specimen, it was not properly removed and preserved, so they continue to search for a “younger and a bigger and better one.”

If you’re wondering just how popular a museum like this could possibly be, it’s actually quite popular, attracting thousands of visitors a year. It's even inspired a Canadian documentary called The Final Member.

3. Giant Shoe Museum

Located in the famous Pike Place Market of Seattle, the Giant Shoe Museum is a single exhibit wall located on the outside of the Old Seattle Paperworks store and brings a lot of business to the shop as a result. To see the museum’s collection, visitors must drop quarters into coin boxes and then look through stereoscope viewing slots that reveal views of a variety of giant shoes including a size 37 shoe worn by the world’s tallest man, a real clown shoe and the world’s largest collection of giant shoes.

4. Washington Banana Museum

Ann Mitchell Lovell really loves bananas. In fact, she loves them enough to not only run the Washington Banana Museum, which features almost 4000 items related to the world’s best-selling fruit, but to also upload photos of her favorite items from the museum online so those who can’t make it to the physical location can still enjoy the virtual Banana Museum.

5. Meguro Parasitological Museum

The only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to parasites, the Meguro Parasitological Museum would be a great place to do research for that horror film you’ve been working on. The first floor merely shows where different parasites live in Japan, but once you head upstairs, the real horror show starts, featuring samples of parasites including the world’s longest tapeworm—which measures almost 29 feet long—and photos of people and animals infested with parasites.

6. Roswell UFO Museum

Was it a weather balloon or something more? While the Roswell UFO Museum merely asks that you keep an open mind and ask as many questions as possible about the Roswell incident of 1947, the name should tell you that the curators have already made up their minds about what was spotted in the sky that fateful night.

Exhibits include information on the event, crop circles, other UFO sightings, Area 51, and abductions. Regardless of your personal opinion about UFOs, there’s no denying that the museum has been quite successful: Since it opened its doors in 1992, it has outgrown two different locations, and now occupies an old movie theater.

7. Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum


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Hopefully the parasite museum doesn’t make you lose your appetite, because the Ramen Museum is only an hour away, and you certainly won’t want to be thinking about massively long tapeworms while looking at delicious, delicate ramen noodles from some of the top ramen restaurants in Japan. As you might expect, this is one tasty tour, as the museum allows you to taste some of the most famous noodles from throughout the country.

8. Beijing Tap Water Museum

One of the key ingredients you need to make ramen is water, so when you’re done with weird museums in Japan, maybe you should head to China to learn more about tap water, specifically the history of the first water plant in Beijing. Here you can study over 300 items to better familiarize yourself with the 100 year-old history of tap water in China. The best thing about this museum is that any of its drinking fountains can provide you with an enduring souvenir of your trip.

9. International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum

No one likes having their car towed away because they parked somewhere they shouldn’t, but if you’ve ever been helped out by a tow truck when your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere, then you know just how useful the service can be. For those who have experienced the latter enough to develop adoration for towing, a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee might be in order so you can visit the Museum of Towing. Here you can learn all there is to know about the rich history of towing and some of the industry’s most famous individuals.

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Little Baby's Ice Cream
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Food
Pizza and Cricket Cake Are Just Some of the Odd Flavors You'll Find at This Philadelphia Ice Cream Shop
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Little Baby's Ice Cream

Ice cream flavors can get pretty out-there, thanks to the growing number of creative scoop shops willing to take risks and broaden their customers’ horizons beyond chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Intrepid foodies can cool off with frozen treats that taste like horseradish, foie gras, and avocado, while Philadelphia's Little Baby’s Ice Cream is pushing the boundaries of taste with chilly offerings like everything bagel, Maryland BBQ, ranch, and cricket cake.

Cricket-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

Everything Bagel-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

As Lonely Planet News reports, Little Baby’s Ice Cream launched its first signature “oddball” ice cream—Earl Grey sriracha—in 2011. Since then, its rotating menu has only gotten quirkier. In addition to the aforementioned flavors, customers who swing by Little Baby’s this summer can even try pizza ice cream.

The store created the savory flavor in 2011, to celebrate neighborhood eatery Pizza Brain’s inclusion into Guinness World Records for its vast collection of pizza memorabilia. The savory, Italian-esque snack is made from ingredients like tomato, basil, oregano, salt, and garlic—and yes, it actually tastes like pizza, Little Baby’s co-owner Pete Angevine told Lonely Planet News.

Pizza-flavored ice cream, made by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

“Frequently, folks will see it on the menu and be incredulous, then be convinced to taste it, giggle, talk about how surprised they are that it really tastes just like pizza … and then order something else,” Angevine said. “That’s just fine. Just as often though, they’ll end up getting a pizza milkshake!”

Little Baby’s flagship location is in Philadelphia's East Kensington neighborhood, but customers can also sample their unconventional goods at additional outposts in West Philadelphia, Baltimore, and a pop-up stand in Washington, D.C.’s Union Market. Just make sure to bring along a sense of adventure, and to leave your preconceived notions of what ice cream should taste like at home.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Nalcrest, Florida: Where Postal Workers Go to Retire
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iStock

You could say that the Nalcrest community in central Florida delivers affordable retirement housing for seniors. And with amenities like a pool and tennis courts, you might even say it has the whole package [PDF]. Or you could just go with the pun that the community itself has landed on: “Nalcrest: A First Class Community.”

Nalcrest, you see, is a retirement community exclusive to members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC); the village has 500 ground-level apartments available for postal workers to enjoy after they’ve delivered their final Oriental Trading catalog. Garden-style units start at just $374 a month, including water, sewage, trash removal, basic cable, maintenance, and use of all of the recreational facilities.

The idea for an affordable, profession-specific retirement community came to NALC president William Doherty in the 1950s, when he toured Europe and saw similar setups organized by labor unions, religious groups, and fraternal organizations [PDF]. He proposed the idea for U.S. mail carriers as early as 1954, then pounced when Congress passed a law in 1959 that provided loans to build housing for seniors. Doherty was there to break ground on July 1, 1962; Nalcrest officially opened for business less than two years later on January 20, 1964. The dedication ceremony included a band of mail carrier musicians and a separate group called “The Singing Mailmen,” a group made up of—you guessed it—singing mailmen, as well as a female water skiing team that proudly flew pennants spelling out “Nalcrest.” After a stint as the ambassador to Jamaica, Doherty himself retired to Nalcrest, living there until his death in 1987.

Though residents may not be traipsing a daily mail route anymore, they still have plenty of options to stay active. Nalcrest has shuffleboard, horseshoes, bocce, miniature golf, tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, walking trails, and a softball diamond (home to the Nalcrest Eagles). It also boasts a travel club, a women’s association, and free art classes, among other activities. There’s one thing, however, it doesn’t have—dogs. With the exception of therapy dogs, Nalcrest has a no-canine rule in deference to retirees who were bitten in the line of duty and have an aversion to the animals.

If a dog-free community seems like paradise for postal workers, the other thing Nalcrest lacks cements its status as letter carrier nirvana: There are no mailboxes, because there is no home mail delivery. Each resident has to visit the Nalcrest post office to pick up any correspondence.

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