6 of the world's most ridiculous tourist attractions

Mike MacEacheran

written by
Mike MacEacheran

updated 10.11.2020

Not every place has the looks of the Taj Mahal, the majesty of the Grand Canyon, or the intrigue of Angkor Wat. Some wow from the first glimpse, others fail miserably and some, well, just bemuse.

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


© Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock

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.

If you’re still curious, consider this: Kiama in New South Wales is the proud home of the Big Poo.


© frerd/Shutterstock

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.

The right point, according to locals, is 600m away. Located in the sweltering heat of the badlands desert, it’s since become a sweaty pilgrimage for hundreds of misled tourists each year.

5. Giant Ferris Wheel, Dudley, England

Gigantic observation wheels have been in vogue since London launched the Eye prior to the Millennium. Paris has one, as does Beijing, Birmingham, Orlando, Sharjah… the list goes on.

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.


© UAV 4/Shutterstock

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.

Want more? Drop in to hokey gelato parlour Scream’s Ice Cream where they serve scoops in miniature coffins.

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Top image: The big lobster, Australia © Ninefiver Media/Shutterstock

Mike MacEacheran

written by
Mike MacEacheran

updated 10.11.2020

Mike MacEacheran is a travel journalist & guidebook author based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has reported from 108 countries for National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mail on Sunday, The Independent, Evening Standard, The Sun, The Globe and Mail, Scotland on Sunday, The National and South China Morning Post. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMacEacheran

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