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Feature Stories

A year's worth of quirky things to do in Texas

Cindy Richards, Editor

The motto for Texas's capital city might be "Keep Austin Weird." But it's hardly the only place to find weird stuff in the state. From a vending machine dispensing pecan pies to a museum showcasing barbed wire's history, this list offers just a few of the odder oddities found around Texas.

Art – if you say so

A year's worth of quirky things to do in TexasOdd art installations abound in Texas. Start in the middle of the West Texas desert. Just off Route 90 near Valentine is a full-scale "Prada Marfa" store. Built as a commentary on Western materialism, the solitary store was immediately vandalized, then rebuilt and stocked only with right shoes and bottomless purses.

England comes to Texas in the form of Stonehenge II, a half-size replica of the 3,500-year-old original in Salisbury, England. Stonehenge II is a roadside attraction in Ingram. It was built by an eccentric landowner in 1989.

Another scale model of an international icon is in Paris. Like its French namesake, Paris, Texas, boasts an Eiffel Tower. The Texas version stands just 65 feet tall (vs. 1,063 feet for the original) and sports a cowboy hat.

A year's worth of quirky things to do in TexasJust west of Amarillo is the final resting place of 10 classic Cadillacs. The cars at Cadillac Ranch are half-buried in sand, tail fins up, in an ongoing interactive art installation. If you go, take a can (or more) of spray paint and leave your mark by spray-painting graffiti on the artwork. Then snap a photo. Chances are your artwork will be covered by someone else's before the day is out.

Beer, pie, and bats

A year's worth of quirky things to do in TexasLest you think the weirdness is just a rural phenomenon, head to Houston's Beer Can House. It's the retirement project of John Milkovisch. Starting in 1968, Milkovisch spent 18 years adorning his home with more than 50,000 aluminum beer cans. As Milkovisch says, "Some people say this is sculpture, but I didn't go to no expensive school to get these crazy notions."

If you get hungry driving Highway 71 on your way to Cedar Creek, stop at the vending machine at Berdoll Pecan Farm and order up a pecan pie. Not surprisingly, the pecan pie vending machine was named one of the "World's Strangest Vending Machines" by Travel+Leisure. It takes cash (change given in dollar coins) or credit cards. If pie isn't your thing, the refrigerated machine also dispenses pecan nuts and many pecan candy choices.

If you happen to be in Austin between April and October, head to the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk. This bridge shelters the largest urban bat colony in North America. You can see more than 1.5 million bats flying out as the sun sets. Of course, this oddity is Mother Nature's own work.

Quirky museums in Texas

Alan Johncock spent 20 years collecting classic motorcycles before opening the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in Vanderpool. The museum showcases more than 50 vintage motorcycles from Europe, America, and Japan.

An eerier museum, the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, features more sinister fare: thousands of barbed wire varieties. The museum is dedicated to the history of barbed wire and the impact it had on transforming the land and the lives of people in the unexplored territories of the West. Barbed wire art, advertisements, tools, and a Route 66 history section round out the collection at this true Texas original.

Beaumont is home to the Fire Museum of Texas and the second largest working fire hydrant in the world. Disney donated the fire hydrant, used to promote its movie classic, "101 Dalmatians."

Former Elvis Presley pal Simon Vega turned his house in Los Fresnos into a museum for the rock 'n' roll King in 1993. Little Graceland, located along TX 100, houses more than 1,000 pieces of Elvis memorabilia, including pictures of the proprietor with Elvis when they both served overseas in Germany.