A Nod To The Odd
CELEBRATING WEIRD AND WACKY THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN TEXAS
BY ANNETTE BROOKS
Most people associate Texas with the Alamo, Longhorn cattle, BBQ, cowboy boots, Tex-Mex food, NASA, rodeos, Big Bend, football, and the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas.” But once you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find many quirky things to do and see here.
We’ve pulled together a few highlights, but this is just the tip of the cowboy boot. Like Texas itself, the number of off-beat things to do and see here is huge.
Leaning Tower of Texas
Groom, Texas, situated about 44 miles east of Amarillo, could easily be a blip on the map if not for one thing — it’s home to a leaning tower that is a popular roadside attraction. Ralph Britten purchased the water tower that was slated for demolition and moved it to serve as an advertisement for his truck stop and tourist information center. The Leaning Tower Truck Stop closed in the 80s, but the tower still tilts for passers-by.
World’s Largest Pecan
San Saba may be the Pecan Capital of the World, but Seguin, Texas — roughly 50 miles south of Austin — lays claim to being The Pecan Capital of Texas. And that’s not all. On display next to the Texas Agriculture and Heritage Center is Seguin’s 16-foot-long pecan statue honoring Texas’ state nut, said to be the world’s largest pecan.
Meow Wolf Grapevine
The real doesn’t get more unreal than at Meow Wolf, located in Grapevine Mills. Its super fun mind-bending interactive artscape includes music and lighting, offering an exhilarating playground for the senses that will spark your imagination. Artists use various media, including sculpture, painting, fabrication, digital art, writing, film, and more, to create this fantastical experience. It’s a must-see. Visit MeowWolf.com/visit/grapevine for more information and to purchase tickets.
Beer Can House
Every state has an odd house or two. In Texas, you have the Munster Mansion in Waxahachie and the Royce City Futuro house, but perhaps the most fitting example is the Beer Can House smack in the middle of a Houston neighborhood. According to the website of The Orange Show for Visionary Art, who acquired the home and preserved it as a folk-art museum, owner John Milkovisch began inlaying thousands of marbles, rocks, and metal pieces into concrete and redwood to form unique landscaping features. When the entire front and back yard were completely covered because he “got sick of mowing the grass,” he turned to the house itself and began adding aluminum siding, aluminum beer can siding, that is.
World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
What’s a trip to San Antonio without visiting The Alamo, the Riverwalk, the Mission Trail, and going to take a selfie in front of the largest cowboy boots in the world? The pair of fake ostrich-and-calf-skin boots stands 35 feet tall and are 33 feet long. Some of our friends up north from Canada may have a bone to pick with this “world’s largest” statement because Edmonton boasts a 40-foot-tall cowboy boot, but it’s a single boot, not a pair. So, the claim stands.
Yes, there’s such a thing as public bathrooms made of glass, and you can find them in Sulphur Springs’ Celebration Plaza. When inside, you can see the park and the historic courthouse, but people outside can’t see in, protecting your privacy.
Speaking of Amarillo, check out Combine City when you’re in the area. It seems that Texans love to half-bury upended vehicles, but unlike VW Slug Bug Ranch and Cadillac Ranch, Combine City pays homage to retired combine harvesters. The last someone counted, as far as we can tell, 14 combines adorn the landscape.
The Texas Woofus
There are a lot of mythical creatures in pop culture, lore, and fables, but Texas has created its own — a Woofus. A statue of this mythical chimera rests in Dallas’ Fair Park. Comprised of various part of livestock parts, it features the mane and neck of a horse, a pig body, duck wings, a sheep’s head, a turkey tail, and the icing on the cake, a pair of Texas longhorns.
The Cathedral of Junk
The slogan “Keep Austin Weird” is alive and well throughout our state capitol. One place to soak in the vibe is a giant sculpture built by local artist Vince Hannemann in his backyard. Since the late 80s, this mixed-media sculpture has been constructed with all sorts of objects, including car parts, signs, dolls, tires, mannequins, musical instruments, wheels, toilets, and who knows, and some areas are even color coordinated too. There are no fees to visit, but donations are appreciated, and be sure to call (512) 299-7413 to verify it is open before showing up.