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Unusual Urban Attractions

Improbable Adventures in Seven US Cities


Visitors to US cities expect to find art museums, historic buildings, broad avenues, parks and shopping districts. These are all fun to explore, but many cities also offer the unusual and unexpected. If you're willing to think outside the box, get ready for some eclectic sights and exciting adventures in seven cities across the United States.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Photo © Paul Lowry / Creative Commons

While a cemetery tour might not seem appealing, Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery offers a tour that might just change your mind. Green-Wood Cemetery's historic trolley tours take you through the cemetery and stop at Battle Hill, where George Washington and his troops faced the British regulars in the Battle of Brooklyn. You'll also stop at the Historic Chapel. Tours are offered Wednesday afternoons and on the second and last Sunday of each month and on special dates. All regularly-scheduled tours depart at 1:00 P. M. Reservations are accepted and strongly recommended.

If you'd prefer to walk, grab a map at the cemetery entrance and stop by the gravesites of Louis Tiffany, Henry Ward Beecher, Leonard Bernstein and Horace Greeley and many other famous "residents" of Green-Wood Cemetery.

National Gallery of Art Ice Rink, Washington, DC

Photo © Harvey Barrison / Creative Commons

During the late autumn and winter months, you can take a turn on the ice and admire sculpture at the National Gallery of Art's outdoor ice rink. The rink is located inside the National Gallery of Art's outdoor Sculpture Garden, which contains well-known works by Roy Liechtenstein, Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois and other renowned sculptors. The ice rink is open daily from mid-November through mid-March, weather permitting; skate rentals are available.

La Brea Tar Pits, Los Angeles, California

Photo © Nancy Parode. Licensed to About.com.

Take a trip back to prehistoric times at the La Brea Tar Pits. Not only can you see pools of asphalt that trapped saber-toothed cats and mammoths during the last Ice Age, you can also visit an active excavation site. Amazingly, the La Brea Tar Pits and adjacent Page Museum, which houses many of the fossils found in the asphalt pools, are right on glitzy Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles' Miracle Mile district.

Art Car Museum, Houston, Texas

Photo © Jonathan LaRocca / Creative Commons

Houston's Art Car Museum, nicknamed the "Garage Mahal," showcases art cars and sponsors an annual open call exhibition for artists. Take a moment to appreciate the museum's exterior, which brings to mind fantastic, beautiful cars from days gone by. Inside the Art Car Museum, you can see some of the cars featured in Houston's annual Art Car Parade as well as special art exhibits. Special exhibits change frequently, as do the art cars on display, so you can visit this eclectic museum more than once and have a completely different experience each time.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Track Lap, Indianapolis, Indiana

Photo © Nancy Parode

Race fans won't want to miss the chance to take a lap on the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway track. Admittedly, you have to ride in a bus, but there's nothing quite like a driver's-eye view of the grandstands, Pagoda and gateway to Gasoline Alley. Tickets for a track lap cost $5; purchase your track lap ticket at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Track lap tours may not be available on race, practice or qualification days.

J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, Claremore, Oklahoma

Photo © Nancy Parode

The J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore, Okhahoma, features the world's largest private gun collection as well as an amazing array of other collectibles. John Monroe Davis owned a hotel in Claremore and was more than willing to trade an overnight stay or meals for a gun or knife. Through this practice, Davis ended up with over 13,000 guns of every shape and size. He also collected beer steins, World War I propaganda posters, mechanical banks and music boxes, and they are all on display at this museum.

Louisville Mega Cavern, Louisville, Kentucky

Underneath the streets of Louisville lies an enormous underground cavern, so large that it can shelter 50,000 people in an emergency. The Louisville Mega Cavern was once an underground mine. Several years after the mine was closed in the early 1970s, the owners sold the mine. The new owners converted part of the cavern into a storage facility, created tram and zip line tours and started a worm fertilizer farm. You can take a guided tram tour from mid-January through October. During the holiday season, you can drive through the Lights Under Louisville exhibit, the world's only underground holiday light display. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the two-hour guided zip tour, which takes you through the Mega Cavern via zip lines and challenge bridges.

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