If you’re willing to make the effort, here’s our rundown of the most ridiculous attractions to visit around the world.
1. Washlet Museum, Kitakyushu, Japan
Eccentric museums are nothing new. Turkey has one about hair, San Francisco has a gallery dedicated to vibrators, while Reykjavík prides itself on a collection of odd-shaped phalluses. England, meanwhile, has a dog collar museum and the nuttily-brilliant British Lawnmower Museum.
But Japan’s latest blows them all away, with a museum dedicated to one of the country’s most celebrated inventions: the robotic toilet. Opened in December, to celebrate the centennial of Toto, the innovator behind the Washlet, this £40 million museum charts the birth of the Japanese crapper from antique ceramic potty-bowl to bidet-splashing, cheek-warming, cranny-washing triumph. When nature calls, you’ll never look at the humble loo the same way again.
2. The Gum Wall, Seattle, USA
Described as the ‘germiest’ place on Earth, this notorious dead zone at the back of Pike Place Market was never intended as an attraction. But for the past 20 years, lazy tourists and chewing gum vandals have left cloggy dollops behind on the alley as a memento, sticking more than one million blobs of goo to the walls – that’s more than 150 pieces of gum per brick.
Despite a heavy-duty steam-clean last November, the wall continues to be redecorated by hardcore fans in a rainbow spray of bubblegum. Some say its crowd-sourced art, others say it’s Jackson Pollock for idiots. Grit your teeth and dive right on in. If you’ve come this far, you deserve no sympathy.
3. The Big Things, Australia
It started in 1963 with the Big Scotsman, a five-metre-tall novelty Highlander in a kilt and puke-green jacket plonked on top of Scotty’s Motel in Medindie, Adelaide. The fact it was nonsense didn’t matter: it was soon followed by the Big Dinosaur in Somersby and the Big Banana at Coffs Harbour.
Then things got really silly: Queensland rolled out a whole supermarket shelf’s worth of super-sized kitsch – the Big Pie, the Big Peanut, the Big Paperclip – while Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Robertson in New South Wales hit all-time lows. For that, look no further than the Big Dustbin or the Big Potato.
Some deluded travellers see ticking off all 150 as a worthy lifetime challenge – but those in the real world choose to see Australia’s other Big Things, the Great Barrier Reef, Red Centre and Uluru.
4. Four Corners Monument, New Mexico, USA
Plenty of places have tacky signs proclaiming a town as the most extreme point on the compass. Others have bouncy castles dedicated to pointless geographic quirks. But few can claim a site that touches the corner of four different US states.
That’s the so-good-it’s-bad highlight at Shiprock, a town on the brink of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. The crosshair point is marked by a second-rate brass LP-shaped disc, but what really makes it worthwhile is it’s in the wrong spot – an error worthy of a comedy klaxon horn honk.
5. Giant Ferris Wheel, Dudley, England
But jumping on the bandwagon isn’t always a good idea. Just ask Dudley about its “Dudl-Eye”.
For £4.50 a spin, it was possible to get a bird’s eye view of the Black Country town’s skyline. Cue a 35m-high ride past an abandoned bingo hall, the town centre car park, and several close-ups of grey, concrete misery.
When it opened in March for a month-long stint it was lampooned as the worst tourist attraction in the UK.
6. Hell, Michigan, USA
Jean-Paul Sartre said “hell is other people”. But he clearly hadn’t been to this small town in the Midwest where eternal suffering can be found in attempts to wring every last innuendo and witticism from the town’s name.
Wise guy entrepreneurs have set up a fake college – Damnation University, of course – the high street store issues death certificates and scorched postcards, and its themed mini-golf course is modelled on Satan’s fiery abode of the damned.