Do This Not That: Midwestern Tourist Trap Edition
Roadside attractions are a staple of any good Midwestern road trip and if you've visited a few of them you know that they are not all created equally.
I recently found myself on a trip from Rockford to Witten, South Dakota to pick up a brand new puppy. I will include a picture of the new puppy and the end of this post to encourage scrolling.
Along the way, we drove past two major tourist traps in the upper Midwest. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota and the Spam Museum in Austin, Minnesota. One was better than I expected and I felt ripped off at the other one, even though admission was free.
On the good list is the Spam Museum. I was really looking forward to this stop. Spam was part of a lot of meals growing up and holds a special spot in my heart.
This museum did not disappoint. First of all they have some bronze pigs outside the museum that already put it in better standing than the Corn Palace (more on that in a bit.)
Once inside, we were greeted by a VERY friendly staff member that wanted to know where we were coming from and what we wanted to learn from the trip. Very helpful. He also peppered his welcoming speech with some very good dad jokes that culminated with him reminding us not to eat the displays. Very funny.
And the displays were abundant. The entire museum reminded me of a travelling exhibit that pops up in museums across the country.
There were children displays that let them pretend they were on a farm...
... or a Spam processing plant. I know I spent countless hours as a child pretending to smash pork product into a small tin can.
There was a whole military display to show the kind of support they provided to troops during various wars.
There was a fake office set up with these two guys. I think they were the founders of Hormel, but don't quote me on that.
Then they also had displays of all the ways Spam is consumed from around the country. It was pretty cool.
And then there was what we came for. The souvenir shop.
They had everything. Playing cards. Shirts. Stress balls. Pins. But the real steal of the souvenier shop for me was the 12 pack of variety Spam. I can't wait to work through this over the summer.
So the Spam Museum is a must visit if you're travelling through the area. The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota is almost a must visit as well, just to see how bad it is.
The Corn Palace is about a 10 minute drive once you get off the highway. The area around the Corn Palace is dotted with little shops that I'm assuming open up when the weather gets a little warmer. When we visited, it was just a tiny ghost town.
The outside of the Corn Palace is.... neat. They decorate the outside every year with a new theme. This year it was the circus. I'm not sure if that's a political statement of not.
If you've made it this far to the Corn Palace, this is where you can stop. That's because once you walk through the doors you realize you're basically in a high school gym.
When we visited it was set up to host a high school graduation.
But as you can see. This is basically a small town auditorium with some unique art on the wall.
Was there more to the Corn Palace? I don't know. There weren't any displays and no one really seemed to be in charge other than the 20-year-old kid that was manning the concession stand.
They didn't even have a souvenir shop. I was ready to give them too much money for a sweatshirt. Their loss I guess.
I'm glad I went so I can say I saw it, but you will never find me in Mitchell, South Dakota again.
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