A monument to possums? An artifact from an infamous car theft? New digs for a dinosaur? You never know what you’ll find when you travel off the beaten path.

So, on your next road trip, turn onto the road less traveled. These unique places to visit in the U.S. will make it worth your time:

1. Florida: For the love of possums

In the tiny northwest Florida town of Wausau, the lowly possum finally gets its due. At the corner of Second Avenue and State Road 77 sits a gated stone monument engraved with a solemn 72-word tribute to the “magnificent survivor of the marsupial family.” According to the marker, which was built in 1982, the possum fulfilled an important destiny, serving as “both food and fur” for the state’s early settlers and their descendants. Visit in August, when the town will host the annual Wausau Possum Festival.

2. Michigan: Racing on ice

Inspired by a 1968 conversation about the Indianapolis 500, the International 500 was the brainchild of a handful of Sault Ste. Marie businessmen intent on testing the limits of a snowmobile. Could the Upper Peninsula’s favorite snow machine travel 500 miles in the dead of a Sault Ste. Marie winter? The team purchased land, constructed North America’s first one-mile oval ice track and on Feb. 8, 1969, launched the world’s most challenging snowmobile race.

Fifty years later, “NASCAR on Ice,” as the event is sometimes known, remains one of motor sports’ most grueling events, subjecting riders to freezing temperatures at speeds around 60 mph or more. Visitors can watch the qualifying and official races; attend the Antique, Vintage and Classic Snowmobile Show; and go ice skating on the track.

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3. Iowa: A Bonnie and Clyde connection

After a shootout with police in Missouri, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow hid out with three other criminals in an abandoned park near Dexter (about 30 miles west of Des Moines) for four days in July 1933. After a local farmer came across their bloody bandages and alerted police, a posse from Dexter surrounded the camp and a gunfight ensued. All five gang members were hurt, and one died in a hospital several days later. Despite their injuries, Bonnie and Clyde escaped. They continued their crime spree for another 10 months before they were killed in Louisiana.

In the Dexter Museum, one of the more unique places to visit in the U.S., you can see photographs, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia relating to the event—including a radiator cap from one of the cars stolen by the outlaws. (Call the museum at 641-757-9173 for hours.) Then visit the historical markers three miles north of Dexter on Dexfield Road to see where the shootout happened.

4. Illinois: Sue is dino-mite!

If you haven’t visited the Field Museum in Chicago lately—one of the top unique places to visit in the U.S. for archaeology fans—now is the time to go. Sue, the world’s biggest and best-preserved T. rex, is back on display after nearly a year of scientific updates and construction on a new space. Sue’s 5,100-square-foot suite is filled with high-tech animation that shows how the T. rex would have interacted with other dinosaurs and what the landscape was like.

“This new gallery does a better job showing how imposing Sue would have been in real life,” says Field Museum president Richard Lariviere. “This is the biggest, scariest and most impressive Sue’s ever looked.”

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5. Minnesota: Waterfall on ice

High Falls in Grand Portage State Park—among the state’s tallest—are a sight to behold in winter. Instead of simply plummeting those 120 breathtaking feet, the Pigeon River’s waters often freeze, thaw and then refreeze—creating a 12-story ice sculpture-in-progress, at the end of a half-mile trail.

The trail may not be cleared of snow, so watch the weather and bring traction cleats or snowshoes, on top of your winter boots and layers, if necessary.

6. Georgia: Southern stargazing

There are many unique places to visit in the U.S. for stargazing, but there’s no better place in Georgia than Fargo’s Stephen C. Foster State Park. Designated a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, the park has very little ambient light to interfere with views of the moon, planets and stars.

With 80 acres in the Okefenokee Swamp, “there’s plenty of room to view the sky and listen to the night sounds of wildlife like owls and frogs,” notes Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division. Bring your own telescope, or take part in the park’s astronomy programs.

7. North Dakota: An artsy side

Grand Forks native James Rosenquist’s colorful paintings made him a pop art legend alongside Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Many of the late artist’s oversized works take up entire walls, like The North Dakota Mural, which is on display at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo—one of the most unique places to visit in the U.S. for art gurus.

Measuring 13 feet by 24 feet, it commands attention. And it contains imagery you don’t need an art degree to understand: wind turbines and tepee poles float through space in a dreamy night sky, accompanied by the North Dakota state seal, fish and bird.

“This piece was personal for the artist because it was for his home state,” says Andy Maus, Plains Art Museum director and CEO. “When he recalled his time in North Dakota, he thought of space—the panoramic distance around us in our landscape—which is why he chose the cosmic composition that he did.” The mural, valued at $1.2 million, is located in the museum’s atrium.

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8. Tennessee: Minnie Pearl lives on

Late comedian Minnie Pearl—also known by her given name, Sarah Colley Cannon—hailed from Centerville, the basis for her fictional town, Grinder’s Switch. The town is now home to the Grinder’s Switch Center, which hosts live music and a radio broadcast every Saturday morning and showcases exhibits about her life.

Just don’t leave town before taking a selfie with Cousin Minnie’s 8-foot-tall, chicken-wire doppelganger positioned in front of the Centerville courthouse.

9. Nebraska: Reliving history through art

It wasn’t unusual for German prisoners of war to be transported deep into the interior of the United States during World War II. Nebraska held several POW camps, but none has its story told like that of Camp Atlanta, near Holdrege.

The Nebraska Prairie Museum’s POW Interpretive Center recounts those days through artifacts, letters and photographs. The highlights, though, are paintings by Thomas F. Naegele. Born in Germany, he moved to the States as a teenager. After he was drafted into the army, Naegele served as an interpreter at Camp Atlanta. His art comprises vivid portrayals of his WWII memories and tells a tale of relative calm as chaos raged throughout the world.

10. Wisconsin: The past, re-created

Step nearly a century back in time as you enter Milwaukee’s Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear. This quirky museum consists of rotating exhibits that replicate some of Milwaukee’s most beloved attractions and shops from the 1920s through the 1940s.

The impressive collection—without the barriers of glass cases or velvet ropes—includes grocery-store sundry items, World War II relics, antique board games and toys, a scaled-down movie theater, and even a secret speakeasy. The items came from the estate of Avrum Chudnow, an enthusiastic collector and lawyer whose family opened the museum in his honor in 2012.

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