The Southern US is known for a lot of things for sure, but if you’re looking for weird things to do in the South, this post is for you!
Ask ten different people what states “The South” consists of and you’re liable to get ten different answers. Growing up in the South, and the Deep South to be more specific, I feel like I have some authority to answer this question. The red states below are considered the “Deep South,” but I would argue the orange is more correctly considered the Deep South and most of the yellow part of “The South.” However, I’ve never really seen Oklahoma considered part of this – I’d considered it the Midwest, but whatever. We may not have UFO sightings like the Southwest or Bigfoot sightings like the Northwest, but we have our own weird things in the South. This is in no way an exhaustive list of all the weird things to do in the South. Not even close. But, it will give you a teaser into why the South is worth a visit if you’re into the weird and unusual things of life.
Weird Things to Do in the South
The World’s 10th Largest Pyramid – Memphis, Tennessee
On the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis, Tennessee stands a 322-foot-tall steel pyramid. Unlike the ancient ones in Egypt, this one—the world’s 10th largest pyramid—dates back to just 1991 AD when it was built as a sports and entertainment arena affectionately known as the Tomb of Doom.
The Pyramid (as it’s most commonly known) served as the home of the University of Memphis men’s basketball team and the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies until 2004. By then, a newer, less shiny arena had been built a few minutes away on Beale Street.
The building languished in purgatory until it reopened in 2015 as what is now the world’s largest Bass Pro Shop. Flannel and duck decoys aside, the Pyramid has redeemed itself as a great attraction for the city of Memphis.
Inside, you can take the country’s tallest free-standing elevator straight to the top. Once up there, you can step out onto one of the glass-bottomed observation decks for unparalleled views of Memphis and the Mississippi River, enjoy some amazing dinner at the Lookout (the Pyramid’s rooftop restaurant), or simply have drinks at the enormous bar with some amazing sunset views.
So why a pyramid? The city of Memphis, Tennessee was named by its founders after the ancient Egyptian capital on the Nile River—Memphis, a city famous for its pyramids. All over Memphis, Tennessee, you can find homages to our namesake. This just so happens to be the biggest.
Contributed by Ashley of My Wanderlusty Life
Men’s Restroom at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel was built in 1910, named after President Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage. It’s the only remaining Beaux-arts style commercial building in Tennessee and the only AAA Five-Diamond hotel in the state as well.
But, what makes it weird? It’s not unusual to see women going into the men’s restroom, which is located downstairs at the Hermitage Hotel. This restroom features a truly spectacular and memorable design, with lime green and black glass tiles, lime green fixtures, and a shoeshine station right in the middle of the room. The men’s room has been the setting of many business deals in the past as well as movies and music videos in current times.
Usually, it’s fine for women to walk in and have a look, but it’s best if someone checks to see if it’s empty before barging in.
The Vollis Simpson Whirlgig Park – Wilson, North Carolina
Wilson, North Carolina is a small town known for its cotton and tobacco history. With the downturn of tobacco, Wilson was hit hard but has been working to revive the community through barbecue and tourism. One of those tourism spots is the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and it is most certainly one of the best things to do in Wilson, NC.
The public art park isn’t just one of spectacle but instead has a heartwarming and inspiring story. Vollis Simpson was a farm machine repairman who started tinkering with leftover parts close to his retirement. Building kinetic sculptures out of road signs, HVAC fans, bicycles, mirrors, and milkshake mixers, these “whirligigs” started to resemble parts and stories of his life.
Originally placed on his farm 11 miles outside of the City of Wilson, the threat of natural disasters in North Carolina put the artwork in jeopardy. So through a grassroots movement from the community, 30 of the sculptures were moved to a park in the center of downtown Wilson. Simpson has been called a “visionary artist of the junkyard” by the New York Times and his work can be found at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is open to the public every day and at all hours. Because of Simpson’s use of reflective materials, the light display on the Whirligigs is quite impressive! We recommend grabbing a beer at 217 BrewWorks after checking out these unique North Carolina sculptures!
Contributed by Christina of NC Tripping
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium – Williamsburg, Virginia
Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium and 4D Theater in Williamsburg Virginia is definitely an unusual place to visit. With 9,000 square feet of space and over 350 exhibits, there is something to see and experience for everyone. This is not your typical museum, yet you will still learn plenty of new things during your time in the Odditorium. Here you will find shrunken heads, a 12ft tall robot sculpture made of scrap car parts, a wax replica of the tallest man, an authentic vampire killing kit, one-of-a-kind artwork, mind-boggling visual illusions, tons of hands-on interactive areas, a laser race, and a spinning vortex tunnel. This is not the only Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum; the first one was in St. Augustine, Florida. Robert Ripley originally wrote for a newspaper in which he had a Believe It or Not feature in which he would share bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers would question the claims. The feature was then adapted into a variety of formats, including radio, television, books, and a chain of museums. Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a fantastic place to visit if you are traveling to Williamsburg with kids or anyone who enjoys something a little different.
Contributed by Margie of DQ Travel Family Travel
Abita Mystery House – Louisiana Northshore
Abita Mystery House in Louisiana Northshore is absolutely one of the weirdest places I have been to in the entire world—and I take pride in finding the funkiest, quirkiest, and most interesting places.
It is part museum, part oddity, part art funkiness, part I do not know what else.
Hundreds of 8″x11″ paint-by-numbers pieces adorn every wall, a 40-foot paper mâché swamp creature is caged in one exterior hallway, and an alien spacecraft is in the backyard.
Do not miss the Martian Mardi Gras exhibit and heck, all the exhibits. You can spend 15 minutes or 15 days at Abita Mystery House.
The Crisco the Dancing Clown display will scare the bejeezus out of unsuspecting souls.
The gift shop is worth the price of admission but it is actually free. The one Louisiana souvenir I most cherish is my fridge magnet from here that says, “Do not ever visit the Abita Mystery House.”
The pictured alligator chandelier is something I crave to decorate my future Bayou Mansion. The artist-in-residence/owner of Abita Mystery House has a diva, nonchalant attitude but will interact when triggered, enticed, intrigued, or challenged. He moved from New Orleans over 30 years ago because it was not weird enough to support his artistic vision. Please support him by visiting the strangest place on planet Earth.
Contributed by Charles of McCool Travel
Expedition Bigfoot Museum in Blue Ridge, Georgia
You don’t have to believe in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or aliens on Earth to get a kick out of the Expedition: Bigfoot Museum (a.k.a. Sasquatch Museum). But it’s probably much more interesting if you can at least enter the unusual roadside attraction– which is located right off Hwy 515 on the line between Cherry Log and Blue Ridge, Georgia– with an open mind. The X-Files‘ Fox Mulder would love the expansive collection in this 4,000-square-foot museum, which includes all sorts of exhibits featuring Bigfoot artifacts, folklore, and memorabilia. It’s clearly a labor of love for co-owners David and Malinda Bakara, who have assembled thousands of newspaper clippings documenting reported sightings of the mythical man/ape hybrid, sketches, statues, wood carvings, casts of handprints and footprints, and (my personal favorite) a very realistic-looking Bigfoot poop. As you enter the museum, it’s worth taking time to watch a short film that illustrates how common the mythos of this forest-dwelling creature is around the world. From the Himalayas (where it’s known as the Yeti or Abominable Snowman) to China (Yeran, or Chinese Widman), from Pakistan (Barmanou) to Mexico (El Cuatlacas), countless cultures have their own version of this mysterious creature.
It’s easy to make fun of people who believe in 9-foot-tall, bipedal ape-like creatures who live in a forest. But, when even a world-renowned primatologist like Jane Goodall acknowledges the possibility that such creatures may exist, I think it’s a lot more fun to visit the Expedition Bigfoot Museum, check out the incredible array of evidence, and then decide for yourself whether or not you believe. Even if you don’t, it’s still an awesome and unique North Georgia tourist attraction.
Contributed by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary and the Spite House, Alexandria, Virginia
One of the most unusual hidden gems in Northern Virginia is packed with history, and frozen in a most interesting time. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary would make Professor Snape and his potions class feel right at home. Where else can you find unicorn roots, dragon’s blood, and an odd collection of barks, poisons, and remedies all in their original containers?
The apothecary opened in Old Town Alexandria in 1805 and operated in the busy port town for the next 128 years. Bankruptcy and the owner’s death abruptly closed the store, and it has been preserved in that state ever since. Glass bottles line the store shelves along with an odd mix of funny and frightening treatments. A macabre collection of bloodletting instruments, including a multi-bladed scarificator, stands near a comical advertisement for Tanglefoot flea paper. Historic artifacts include a request on behalf of Martha Washington for “a quart bottle of his best castor oil,” A Ledger page lists orders from Robert E. Lee and his family.
Tours of the museum are $5 for adults and $3 for children 5 to 12. Special adult and family tours on Harry Potter’s birthday draw sell-out crowds every July. After your tour, take a stroll around Alexandria’s historic streets. Be sure to check out the Spite House, just a few blocks away, on Queen Street. An angry homeowner, tired of noisy travelers, built the narrow blue house to fill his alleyway. It is definitely one of the most photogenic spots in historic Virginia.
Contributed by Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA
Cemetery Tour in New Orleans, Louisiana
The Louisiana city of New Orleans is a super fun and quirky destination, known for its crazy parties and festivals. However, there are so many more attractions in New Orleans. The “Big Easy” is actually known to be a super haunted city, but there are tons of cool, weird things to experience without being spooked – we have a perfect family-friendly activity for you to check out.
If you have to pick one tour during your time in New Orleans, go on a cemetery tour. It may sound a little weird, but we promise it’s awesome. You’ll want to book a tour at the most famous cemetery in the area – St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. A tour guide is required to enter this spot so definitely book online beforehand.
St. Louis Cemetery was founded in 1789 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This particular cemetery is the final resting place of the infamous and famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, slaveholder Delphine LaLaurie and the pirate Barthelemy Lafon. Don’t worry – your tour guide will give you all the details about the tour.
The tours are offered daily and only are $20 a person. We hope you have a fantastic, weird time on your tour!
Contributed by Hannah & Adam of Getting Stamped
The Moogseum – Asheville, North Carolina
The whole of Asheville could feasibly be a category of its own on this list as the creative city is a place that celebrates all things weird. It’s a center for counter-culture eccentricity and has a plethora of interesting shops, restaurants, and bars. One of the weirdest things to do in Asheville is visit the Moogseum, a little museum that celebrates the life and work of Dr. Bob Moog who lived in Asheville.
Dr. Moog invented the legendary Moog synthesizer and the museum is a homage to the science of sound, the instrument, and its creator. The interactive exhibitions offer a playful exploration of sound. One of the highlights is a dome where you can explore how electricity turns into sound. Other features include an interactive Bob Moog Timeline, a recreation of Bob’s workbench, and interactive teachings and experiments with Synthesis.
There’s also a section dedicated to theremins where you can learn about waveforms and how to play a theremin. Visiting the museum is a must for any electric music fans.
Contributed by Victoria Kennedy of Bridges and Balloons
Try to Escape Zombies in Senoia, Georgia
It’s a little weird that a town’s claim to fame would be flesh-eating zombies. Back before the zombie apocalypse, Senoia, Georgia was just a small ordinary Georgia town. But in 2011 the hit television show, The Walking Dead began filming there.
Nowadays the town is anything but ordinary. It’s downright odd to see zombies and The Walking Dead paraphernalia all over this cute southern town.
For anyone out there not familiar with The Walking Dead or TWD, the show is based on a popular comic book series about a group of misfits that somehow survive the end of the world as we know it. Banding together to fight zombies aka walkers that have been infected, they continuously search for a safe place to try and find a sense of normalcy.
If it wasn’t for The Walking Dead, the town would not be what it is today. Before filming started Senoia had less than ten businesses. Now there are over fifty. Many of them only exist because of the show. Even one of TWD’s most beloved characters, Daryl, played by Norman Reedus, opened up a restaurant there called Nic and Norman’s, with the show’s director/producer.
Just 40 miles south of Atlanta, Senoia is worth every mile for a quick day trip out of the city. In 2018, AMC started offering official studio tours when they aren’t filming. Besides a studio tour, that official tour gets you inside the fifth season’s famous walled town of Alexandria located right out of downtown.
While exploring Senoia, don’t miss The Woodbury Shoppe, for souvenirs and the Senoia Coffee Cafe. The coffee shop has a great breakfast and is popular with locals and for the stars of TWD. Everything is named after characters and places in the show.
Contributed by Lori Blalock of Southerner Says
Mercer Williams House in Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia is full of strange and mysterious history, and there is no place that better encapsulates it than the Mercer Williams House. Located on Monterey Square, one of Savannah’s prettiest squares, this stately red brick home is made striking by its arched windows and black ironwork. But beyond its architectural beauty, the Mercer Williams House is best known for being the setting of John Berendt’s bestselling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Telling the true story of a famous Savannah crime, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil proves that truth really can be stranger than fiction. In the 1980s, Jim Williams, a successful and eccentric antiques dealer who owned the Mercer Williams House at the time, shot and killed a male prostitute inside his home. This led to four separate trials for the crime, finally ending in the acquittal of Jim Williams (who died of a heart attack soon after.) The case engaged the entire city of Savannah, much like it engaged readers years later when Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published. Many people credit the book’s success for bringing more tourism to Savannah. Now, the Mercer Williams House is owned by Dorothy Kingery, Jim Williams’ sister and it is open to the public for tours.
Contributed by Dale of Wander Her Way
All the Weird Things in Austin, Texas
Austin is just weird in general. They don’t say “Keep Austin Weird” for no reason, folks.
On my first and only trip to Austin, I made sure to explore some of their weird claim-to-fame locations.
Want to head to a Johnny Cash-themed bar? Or, visit a guy’s backyard that literally has a Cathedral of Junk? Or, why not go to the Museum of the Weird – doesn’t really get any more specific than that.
I really fell in love with Austin on that inaugural trip and can’t wait to go back and explore more of what makes Austin weird. Until then, here are all the weird things to do in Austin.