North Carolina is the perfect state for a road trip. Between the Outer Banks and the Blue Ridge Parkway, our beautiful state offers plenty of destinations worth visiting. What you may be surprised to learn, though, is that there’s a hidden side to North Carolina harboring bizarre attractions off the beaten path that are equally worthy.
Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky
Hidden behind the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky is a round stone hut built by British artist Chris Drury (pictured above). Its purpose was to be used as a camera obscura, and Drury opted to use medieval design and construction technology to build it.
Resembling a rocky igloo, the structure features a wooden door leading to the interior chamber, which is light-tight when the door is shut except for a single pinprick of light in the ceiling. This light allows the building to function as a camera obscura, projecting an image of the lit side in the chamber, hence the name the Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky.
Land of Oz
A theme park located on Beech Mountain in Western North Carolina, Land of Oz is a family owned property only open to the public during certain times of year. It’s also available to rent as a venue for engagement photos, weddings, and other events. Many of those aware of the site make a pilgrimage each fall for the annual Autumn at Oz Festival. Experience an actual yellow brick road and a complete cast of characters taken straight from the L. Frank Baum and Hollywood classics.
A public art exhibit stemming from one of the state’s most bizarre urban legends, Acid Park in Wilson is a tragic reminder of loss. According to legend, Vollis Simpson’s daughter crashed her car one night after having taken LSD. She was killed instantly. After her death, Simpson began having dreams of what his daughter saw as she drove that night. For 40 years, he created reflector-covered windmills in an effort to memorialize her tragic death.
In reality, Simpson’s daughter was never in an accident, and the artist refers to his creation simply as “whirligigs” for the public to enjoy. Still, it’s a unique site that makes for the perfect road trip detour.
Kindred Spirit Mailbox
A long-time symbol of hope on Bird Island, the Kindred Spirit mailbox has overlooked the sea for over three decades. The community mailbox contains pens, a handful of journals, and the thoughts of all those who have visited over the years. While the written words vary, most visitors write apologies to wronged loved ones, confess their wrongdoings, admit mistakes, or seek forgiveness. The mailbox has also helped the island reach nature preserve status, saving it from modernization. What better way to end a road trip than to immortalize your thoughts in the Kindred Spirit mailbox?
Have you ever visited any of these unusual places? With so many bizarre spots around North Carolina, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.