The nickname Colorful Colorado might allude to stunning purple mountain majesties, golden plains, red rock canyons, green forests and blue skies, but the Centennial State is also home to some oddities and eccentric attractions. We know hiking and drinking at breweries are favorite pastimes when you adventure in and around the Mile High City, but don’t forget to see everything this beautiful state has to offer. Spend time doing something completely unique with these bizarre ways to spend a day in Colorado. From an antique washing machine museum to a UFO watchtower, we promise these sights are worth a look around.
Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys
Where: 1880 North Gaylord St., Denver
Cost: $6 per adult
The Lowdown: Founded in 1981, the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys will sure give you a new perspective on the Mile High City. Featuring miniatures, dolls and toys collected over generations, this museum is home to antique dolls, artisan dollhouses and vintage toys that give you a sneak peek into playtime’s past. Perusing these tiny, intricate works of art will wow your socks off and make for a unique way to spend your day.
National Science Foundation Ice Core Facility
Where: Denver Federal Center, West 6th Ave. and Kipling St., Lakewood
Cost: Currently not offering tours. Check here for more information.
The Lowdown: In Colorado, we have a lot of snow and ice of our own, but did you know right here in Denver the National Science Foundation stores meteoric ice cores from glaciated areas around the world inside its Ice Core Facility? Inside the Denver Federal Center, scientists study and curate ice from Antarctica all the way to Greenland and learn more about climate fluctuations so they can predict future climate change. The laboratory is currently closed to the public until further notice, but keep checking the facility’s website to see when it re-opens for tours.
Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum
Where: 35901 WCR 31, Eaton
Cost: Guided tours only. Groups of ten are $75 and each person is $7.50.
The Lowdown: The washing machine is something you use weekly, but have you ever thought about the machine’s history? Lee Maxwell, a retired engineering professor from Colorado State University has been collecting antique washing machines since 1985 and cleaning and reassembling them all by himself. Maxwell earned the title for the largest washing machine collection in the world by Guinness in 2000 and the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum in Eaton, Colorado includes models manufactured in Europe and Australia as well as Canada and the US. A day spent here is bound to teach you to never take the modern washing machine for granted again.
The Media Archaeology Lab
Where: 1320 Grandview Ave., Boulder
Cost: Free entry. For classes and tours, click here.
The Lowdown: Feeling nostalgic or curious? The University of Colorado Boulder has a neat exhibit you can visit for free called the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL). MAL is exactly how it sounds, with audio equipment, cassette players, video game consoles, the original Apple I computer, typewriters and other technology from decades past. You can stop in and play with the devices or take a class or tour by appointment.
Indiana Jones Bed & Breakfast
Where: 502 Front St., Antonito
Cost: Starting at $79 per night
The Lowdown: If you’ve ever seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you might recognize this small home in Antonito, Colorado. Now a bed and breakfast, the Indiana Jones House has four rooms with names involving the popular franchise but is brightened up to look homier than the dusty shots of it in the movie. You can stay here for one night, or make the trip to the house to get pictures of the old mailbox with the Jones name out front.
Baldpate Inn Key Collection
Where: The Baldpate Inn, 4900 South Hwy. 7, Estes Park
Cost: Free entry. Bring your own key!
The Lowdown: With a total of 20,000 keys, the key room at the Baldpate Inn in Estes Park started its unique collection after an idea inspired by the fictional book The Seven Keys to Baldpate by Earl Derr Biggers. In the story, a man visits Baldpate Inn for a quiet stay only to discover six characters also have keys to his room and continually disrupt him. The Baldpate Inn has been collecting keys since the end of World War II, and the unique collection contains keys that supposedly open the doors to Westminster Abbey, Hitler’s bunker, a White House bathroom, Mozart’s wine cellar and more. The impressive collection hangs on the hotel’s ceiling and is free to observe for the first time. If you visit a second time, the inn asks that you donate a key yourself.
National Eagle & Wildlife Property Repository
Where: 6550 Gateway Rd., Commerce City
Cost: Tours are free by reservation only.
The Lowdown: The odds are slim, but if you happen to stumble upon a dead eagle, the scientists at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City know what to do with it. The National Eagle & Wildlife Property Repository’s purpose is to receive, analyze, store and dispose of deceased wildlife — especially bald eagle parts (mostly feathers) for Native American tribes to legally use in doctrine to their cultural rights. The repository also works to educate the public on endangered species and how to preserve them through guided tours.
Where: 4801 East Harmony Rd., Fort Collins
Cost: Donations requested with free entry
The Lowdown: What started as merely a hobby for Bill Swets is now a bizarre attraction in Fort Collins. Featuring over 160 metal creatures, the Swetsville Zoo has weirder animals than the ones Swets used to care for when he was a farmer. Crafted using car parts, farm machinery and scrap metal, this funky “zoo” makes for a fun day and a unique photo op.
Where: Highway 17, Center
Cost: $2 per person or $5 per car
The Lowdown: In May 2000, cattle rancher Judy Messoline created an observation platform, gift shop and campground to gather interest about — you guessed it — UFOs. As a former skeptic, Messoline realized UFO watchers were already visiting her ranch, so she opened it to the public. With a 360-degree view of the San Luis Valley, the UFO Watchtower is home to some pretty extraordinary stories about encounters with extraterrestrials. And let’s just say Messoline sees UFOs in this area — a lot. This is definitely the most bizarre way to spend a day — or night if you’re brave.
Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL)
Where: 99 West 12th Ave., Denver
Cost: $8 per adult
The Lowdown: If you’ve been to the Denver Art Museum downtown, you’ve probably wondered what goes on inside the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL) next door. You can read the lab’s description more than three times online, and still have a lot of questions, so just check out this bizarre experience for yourself. Dedicated to preventing terrorism, this unique exhibit teaches visitors how they might be able to prevent a terrorist attack. Like we said, you definitely need to go understand this in person.
Where: State St. and East 10th Ave., Antonito
Cost: Donations requested with free entry
The Lowdown: Built entirely by hand by former Vietnam vet, Donald “Cano” Espinoza, Cano’s Castle is a glittering attraction in Antonito, Colorado that’s made of beer cans and other metal scraps. This four-story house is covered in hubcaps, grills, screen doors, window casements and more. It serves as an homage to Cano’s life that was spared in the war. This architectural masterpiece is definitely worth checking out and you won’t miss it if you happen upon it.