Day Trips

Enjoy a tour through the best weird places around Texas

The Cadillac Ranch
The Cadillac Ranch

This list of the best weird places around Texas makes you wonder why someone would go to all that trouble, but you're sure glad they did.

Best Fins in the Sky: The Cadillac Ranch doesn't ask you to understand art, just to enjoy it. The tails of 10 automobiles poking out of the High Plains west of Amarillo along I-40 are the ultimate in head-scratching art. We have Stanley Marsh 3 to thank for this roadside attraction, plus other installations in the area. For more of Marsh's crazed handiwork, drive RR 1061 west of town, and you can see the top of a mesa that seems to float in air thanks to a reflective metal band around its midsection.

Best Salute to a Fruit: The Orange Show, 2402 Munger St., in Houston was built out of found objects and initially competed with AstroWorld for theme-park-lovers' attention. The corporate theme park is gone, but the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art remains as Jeff McKissack's vision of a place where visitors would have fun and learn about fruits and vegetables. This is a great place to begin an expedition to the Beer Can House, the Flower Man house, and other Southeast Texas cathedrals of folk art. The Orange Show people are the same ones who host the Art Car Parade every May.

Best Imitation of a World Heritage Site: Stonehenge II, off FM 1340 west of Hunt, began a couple of decades ago when two buddies dropped off some large rocks left over from a construction project. The circle grew until it was 60% the height and 90% the length of the English original. Then the artists added two replicas of the famous Moai statues of the Easter Islands wearing sombreros.

Best Natural Light Show: The Marfa Mystery Lights have been amazing travelers since 1883. The orbs of light hover, race, and bounce across the horizon of the desert along U.S. 90, nine miles east of Marfa. I'm sticking with the explanation that the distant lights are the ghosts of ancient Apache chiefs teasing their conquerors.

Best Bridge to Nowhere: The Rusk Footbridge used to connect a neighborhood with downtown when the creek would flood. In the late 19th century, before all-weather roads, the wooden bridge was a vital link for the community. Now it goes from one stand of trees to another. At 546 feet, it is believed to be the longest footbridge in the U.S.

Best Place to Hang a Cowboy Hat: Paris, Texas, once claimed to have the second largest Eiffel Tower in the world at 60 feet tall. Now it's behind several other replicas including ones in Las Vegas (540 feet); Paris, Tenn., (70 feet); and the original (984 feet). It is still the only Eiffel Tower in the world sporting a big red cowboy hat. Makes you want to yell, "Yeehaw."

Best Daytrip: See Outdoors & Recreation Critics Picks for that honor.

902nd in a series. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Cadillac Ranch, Stanley Marsh 3, The Orange Show, AstroWorld, Marfa Mystery Lights, Rusk Footbridge

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