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Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Pythian Castle

If you have ever seen “Haunted Collector” on the SyFy Channel, then you probably recognize Pythian Castle. This historic landmark is located in Springfield (MO) and can be toured. They offer historic and haunted tours.

This unusual structure was built by the Knight of Pythias in 1913 as an orphanage and senior home. In the 1940s, the government took over the property for injured WWII vets. A lot of “souls” have visited this landmark.

If you find yourself near Springfield and want to stop for a tour – be advised that Pythian Castle is located near the downtown area and streets are narrow for wide-turning RVs. Although there is ample parking at the castle, you would be better off just taking a tow vehicle.

For information on tours and times, visit their website at: http://www.pythiancastle.com

You just never know what kind of history you are going to dig up (hmm… poor choice of words, perhaps!) at a cemetery. Like the time we were gold panning along the Yuba River (CA) and found a small trail leading to a cemetery. The small cemetery revealed to be the resting place of a Captain Thompson and his descendents – a ship’s captain until his crew abandoned ship for the promise of riches in California’s gold fields. And there are those with a voiceless past, like the Yuma Territorial Prison Cemetery (AZ) where there are no grave markers, just rows of rock mounds… It really is amazing what you can learn at these locations. So why not plot… uh, I mean plan, a trip to visit a historic one near you?

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © “ScareKrow”

Aww! You don’t scare me! 🙂

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Giant Fiddle (MO)

If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you’ve probably seen over-sized statues, a themed or odd-shaped building, bizarre monuments or just plain wacky stuff! These roadside attractions are a great way to add to your trip and travel memories. So next time you see something, slow down, turn around and take a look. You never know what roadside wonder you may discover.

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © King Kong (VA)

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © S.S. Ripley (FL)

 

NOTE: A site worth visiting for roadside attractions: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

Photo by H.S. Cooper ©

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Rose O’Neill home and statue

So you planned to take that dream trip across the country to a national park or visit that must-see museum only to find out it’s closed… What’s a family to do about vacation plans now?

There are many wonderful hidden treasures across the USA and if you take a closer look, a few are probably right in your own backyard!

The first thing to do is visit an area’s local tourist or visitor center website. Often they will list attractions, recreation and events and have links to other websites that contain more details. Don’t forget to look for small museums, historical sites and botanical gardens! And there are still places that offer free admission, but appreciate donations. Your support of these smaller attractions and non-profit organizations helps keep them open. You may find yourself enjoying the less popular attractions as they are not as crowded and their volunteers are eager to share information about the site with visitors.

So before you begin to panic about your upcoming travel plans, browse the web! Like TV shows? Find out about your favorite and visit places from the show, like the Walton’s Mountain Museum (Shuyler, VA). Enjoy history and art? Check out Rose O’Neill’s home “Bonniebrook” (Walnut Shade, MO). Love sci-fi? Drop by the International UFO Museum & Research Center (Roswell, NM). The possibilities are endless!

If you had planned to stay in a park lodge or campground, don’t fret! Most private campgrounds offer cabins with basic bunks and beds to deluxe cabins completely furnished.  Ask if they have discounts, as most campgrounds will offer a free night if you stay longer than a week. Although private campgrounds are a bit higher priced than national and state parks, consider ones with additional amenities like playground, scheduled activities/events, ice cream socials, free breakfast, Cable TV and WiFi to get the most for your money.

This is a beautiful country and there are plenty of ways to experience and explore the USA outside of it’s national parks and museums.

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton's Mountain Museum

Photo by H.S. Cooper © Walton’s Mountain Museum

  

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