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6. Meteor Crater, Arizona: The second most impressive hole in Arizona was formed by a fiery meteor that screamed into the atmosphere about 50,000 years ago, when giant sloths lived in these parts. Meteor Crater (www.meteorcrater.com), 40 miles east of Flagstaff, is an out-of-this-world site for those with a thimbleful of imagination. Nearly a mile across and 600ft deep, there are lookout points around the crater's edge but no hiking to the bottom. Check out the fun, informative visitor centre.

7. Coral Castle, Florida: This favoured stop in Homestead is one man's kitschy do-it-yourself testament to lost love: Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin dug up more than 2.2 million tons of coral rock to build this mock castle. Its engineering was once a bit of mystery, especially since the broken-hearted Romeo worked secretively at night without using any mortar. Some claim that the marvel has unusual electromagnetic properties. (www.coralcastle.com)

8. Lucy the Margate Elephant, New Jersey: Drive around the beach communities just south of Atlantic City and something massive, gray and kitsch will stop you in your tracks: Lucy the Margate Elephant (www.lucytheelephant.org), a 65ft-high wooden pachyderm constructed in 1881 as a developer's truly weird scheme to attract land buyers to the area. It was variously used as a hotel, beach cottage, private mansion and last, a tavern, but rowdy patrons almost destroyed her. Now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, Lucy is open for tours during summer, starting every half hour, weather permitting.

9. Lucas, Kansas: "Outsider art", meaning works created outside the bounds of traditional culture, has blossomed in tiny Lucas. Samuel Dinsmoor began it all in 1907 by filling his yard with enormous concrete sculptures espousing his eccentric philosophies. His Garden of Eden is visible from the sidewalk, but paid admission lets you hear some wonderful stories and see his remains in a glass-topped coffin. (www.kansastravel.org/lucaskansas.htm)

10. Unclaimed Baggage Center, Alabama: Head into downtown Scottsboro on Hwy 279 and follow the signs to the Unclaimed Baggage Center (www.kansastravel.org/lucaskansas.htm). Wait...is that your iPod? The one you left in the seat pocket on that flight from Poughkeepsie? Probably. This Macy's-sized retail space is the end of the line for the majority of unclaimed bags in the US. After 90 days, the airlines send your lost luggage here. It takes thrift shop-level patience, but there is Tumi luggage, Kate Spade bags, Bruno Magli loafers, cameras, laptops, golf clubs - you name it - all for a fraction of retail.

 

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© Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Lonely Planet’s top 10 weird and wonderful USA’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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