A Travel Guide to Places You’ll Probably Never Want to Visit

Tourist attractions are for amateurs

A Travel Guide to Places You’ll Probably Never Want to Visit

Visiting tourist attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate bridge or the Washington Monument is lame. Those are for amateurs. Everyone travels there. They are also upbeat and happy destinations. Why would you go mainstream and travel there too? For your reading pleasure, I have compiled a list of some off-the-beaten track tourist destinations that are sure to be fantastic conversation starters and probably won’t be overly cheerful.

“Wait, why did you go to the middle of nowhere in Kansas? And why did you knowingly walk into the compound of a former cult?” your friends will ask you incredulously. You probably won’t know. You might even regret it. But for those sick of the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and the like, here are some original places to travel.

Museum of Broken Relationships

Zagreb, Croatia and Los Angeles, California

Photo Credit: Darko Bandic for The Hindu

Feeling nostalgic about your last broken relationship? (Not the relationship part; the broken part.) Then the Museum of Broken Relationships is right up your alley! It houses an “ever-growing collection of items, each a memento of a relationship past, accompanied by a personal, yet anonymous story of its contributor,” according to its website. It aims to help those suffering a broken heart heal through creativity.

Why go to the Louvre or the Guggenheim, filled with super priceless objects you can’t see anywhere else in the world when you can go to a museum with random objects that have almost zero monetary value but are intrinsically priceless to someone you’re never going to meet?

Note: despite the below photo of an “ex axe,” the museum emphasizes that it is NOT like some “destructive” self-help instructions on the internet for overcoming grief. Things like this ex axe are a TOTALLY HEALTHY way to heal and very representative of how normal people get over such things.

Pogrom-themed Escape Room

Brooklyn, NY

Photo Credit: Gamiel Beyder for The Forward

Will your grandparents not shut up about how they escaped the pogroms in Russia and risked everything to grab a spot in the basement of a cargo ship to immigrate to the United States just so you could have a better life and yadda yadda yadda? Think you could do a better job escaping pogroms? Now is your time to find out with an escape room that simulates an escape from these disasters.

This doesn’t appear to actually exist yet, which may or may not be because of the obvious controversy surrounding it. But I guess some people feel like they just haven’t experienced enough trauma in their lives and this escape room seems like a good way to remedy that.

It’s unclear from the two articles written on the escape room as to which of the many mass killings of Jews participants will be attempting to escape, as there are simply too many to fit an escape room for each one of them in one building. However, The Forward reported that the finished room will follow the story of a family from the Davidic period through the Medieval Times (of which the most notable Jewish event was the Spanish Inquisition) to Ellis Island and then to modern day Los Angeles.

Branch Davidians Memorial and Recruitment Headquarters

Waco, TX

I took this photo myself. I bore witness.

If you ever find yourself in Waco, Texas with time to kill and Magnolia Market, the mall where normal people go, just doesn’t strike your fancy, check out the Branch Davidians memorial/recruitment headquarters. The Branch Davidians were a cult based in a compound near Waco and led by David Koresh, who was a pretty run-of-the-mill cult leader. Believed he could speak to God? Check. Preached about the Second Coming of Christ? Check. Preached about the imminent end of the world? Check. He also converted more than 100 people and somehow convinced them to live in that godforsaken place.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms had evidence indicating the community had nearly 250 weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, assault rifles and hundreds of grenades. When they attempted to arrest Koresh and search the compound, the operation went slightly awry. By “slightly,” I mean it ended in a 51-day standoff in which four federal agents and 75 people including children ended up dead. Nine people survived.

There are also some free pamphlets explaining this history. I’m not saying that the incredibly objective, fact-based and impartial pamphlets provided by the memorial/recruitment headquarters accusing the US government of “playing God” sound like they’re sympathizing with a freakin’ cult led by a freakin’ child molester, but they sound like they’re sympathizing with a freakin’ cult led by a freakin’ child molester.

Tell me this photo I personally took of the memorial doesn’t make it seem like they hope to rebuild: “On behalf of all Branch Davidians, we want to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to the many volunteers and benefactors who have faithfully answered the Spirit’s call to rebuild upon the ashes,” the sign reads.

Stonewall Jackson Shrine

Woodford, Virginia

While you’re in the South, you might as well head over to the Stonewall Jackson shrine, which I noticed a sign for in the Virginia boonies. It just wouldn’t be a trip to Virginia if you didn’t see constant reminders of the Civil War, specifically the Confederacy part of the Civil War, because I guess they’re just nostalgic about it or something.

If you don’t know who Stonewall Jackson was, he was regarded as a hero in the US-Mexican War and then was a brigadier general at the first major battle of the Civil War near Manassas, Virginia, according to National Park Service. His military accomplishments gave him almost mythical status. How unfortunate he didn’t use his power for good, by doing something like, fighting for the Union. Fun fact: he was actually one of Robert E. Lee’s favorite subordinates.

This shrine is in a plantation office where Jackson actually died, so you get to feel as close to death as possible, much like in the pogrom-themed escape room, and without actually endangering yourself! It apparently consists of three rooms, one of which has the catchy name of “Small Room on Left.” It also has an Entrance Hall, where it appears that one enters and the Death Room, which by total coincidence is where Jackson died.

Photo credit: Larry Stuart on the NPS website

Garden of Isis dollhouse

Lucas, Kansas

Every little girl dreams of having a dollhouse. You know, like a literal multi-hundred- square-foot house full of dolls. That dream (or nightmare) will come true in this Lucas, Kansas house that’s not even residential anymore; it’s just full of creepy dolls. The fact that “Isis” is in the name—even though it probably refers to the Egyptian goddess and not the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—does not really do anything to reassure visitors. I get it, this dollhouse existed long before the terrorist group did, but seriously. Good marketing practices would dictate that the name should be changed.

I visited here when I was 13 and touring the state of Kansas with my choir. The directors of the choir were all like, “Isn’t this art cool?!” And all the kids in the choir were all like, “No. It’s creepy. And we’re exhausted.”

Photo credit: Abby Ilardi

Now that you’ve seen a full array of non-basic and untraditional travel destinations, perhaps you’ll reconsider your plans for your next vacation. Why go to beautiful, easily accessible tourist destinations when you could also not go to said beautiful, easily accessible tourist destinations? At least some of these destinations boast the exciting, if astronomical, probability that you may not make it out of there alive.

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Naomi Grant
See all posts by Naomi Grant