Overview: Each hotel package below includes one night's deluxe accommodations, a copy of "Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets" by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, a guide to the Top Weird Spots to Discover, and breakfast for two. Hotel taxes and any admission fees are additional. The packages have been coordinated by My Leisure Travel, 866/232-0033, discoverweirdus.com, and are available on an ongoing basis through 2008.
Wilmington, Del., from $139 per night
Located midway between Washington, D.C. and New York City, Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley are home to a variety of museums, mansions, gardens, and antiques. But what brings you to this city at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek is the Ticking Grave in Lindenberg. The grave's ticking noise is said to have inspired the short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe. Some neighboring cities boast strange attractions of their own, such as Philadelphia's Mutter Museum, dedicated to medical oddities; a tree in Villanova, Pa., that's mysteriously covered in chocolates and flowers at all times; and the Littlest Church near Marsh Creek State Park in Downington, Pa. (the entire building can be walked in 12 steps.) The 266-room Hilton Wilmington/Christiana is your base for this package. It's just off Interstate 95. Rates start at $139 per room per night.
Details: There's an additional 8 percent hotel tax and a mandatory $5 "connectivity fee" that covers Internet and all local phone calls. Parking is free. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is five.
Contact: 800/348-3133, hiltonchristiana.com.
Stamford, Conn., from $154 per night
It may come as a surprise, but there's something weird about the affluent Connecticut coast along Long Island Sound. And it's all on display in Bridgeport at the Barnum Museum, a quirky tribute to the circus impresario and founder of the Greatest Show on Earth, P.T. Barnum. Among the weird items showcased: the Feejee Mermaid; Baby Bridgeport, a mounted 700-pound preserved elephant born in Bridgeport at the circus's winter quarters in 1882; a souvenir piece of cake from Tom Thumb's 1863 wedding; and a re-creation of the library from Barnum's first Bridgeport mansion, Iranistan, which was modeled after the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England. Adding to the weirdness factor are nearby attractions such as Milford's Jesus Tree, whose scar left from the loss of a limb has reportedly grown into an image of Jesus, and the Melon Heads, tiny vicious monsters with huge heads said to appear along Velvet Street in nearby Trumbull. The package includes one night at the Marriott Stamford Hotel and Spa, a 508-room hotel across the street from Stamford Town Center Mall. The hotel has a spa, a few on-site restaurants (Northern Lights and Allie's), and a poolside tiki hut. Rates start at $154 per room per night.
Details: Taxes are an additional 12 percent. A mandatory "connectivity fee" for Internet access and all local calls is $9.95 per room. Add $10 per night for self parking and $18 for valet parking. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is five.
Contact: 203/357-9555, marriottstamford.com.
Pittsburgh, Pa., from $159 per night
Sure, Pittsburgh may have a thriving international art scene, a world-class collection of Carnegie Museums, and a series of sporting events and ballet and theatrical performances throughout 2008 in celebration of the city's 250th birthday. But that's not why you'll be visiting Steel City USA. With the help of the Top Weird Spots guide, you'll be searching for wacky attractions not listed on regular maps.
Think of Gravity Hill, a road in North Park where cars roll uphill when put in neutral; the grave of George Swanson, who is buried in a 1984 Corvette at Brush Creek Cemetery; and Damian's grave in Resurrection Cemetery, said to be the burial site of the son of Satan. The package includes one night at the Holiday Inn Pittsburgh Airport, about 13 miles from downtown. The 11-floor, 225-room building features an indoor pool, a 24-hour fitness center, and the Bridges Restaurant and Bridges Bar and Grill. Rates start at $159 per room per night.
Details: Taxes are an additional 14 percent. Wireless access and parking are free. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is five.
Contact: 800/333-4835, hipittsburgh.com.
Baltimore, Md., from $199 per night
On the west coast of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is Maryland's largest city (and the setting of the HBO hit "The Wire"). In keeping with the theme, your visit will focus on odd and somewhat creepy attractions, of which there are plenty. For example, the Exorcist House—the home of the boy whose real-life story inspired the 1973 horror movie—is just forty minutes south of Baltimore in Cottage City. Other sites include the faux-50s restaurant Cafe Hon ("hon" being the standard form of greeting), the home of the beehive hairdo immortalized in native son filmmaker John Waters's movie "Hairspray". Before you leave, make your way toward the border of Baltimore and Harford Counties to visit the covered Jericho Bridge, said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl who burned to death there. The package includes one night at the Brookshire Suites, a 97-room hotel in the heart of the city's Inner Harbor. Rates start at $199 per room per night.
Details: Taxes are an additional 13.5 percent. A mandatory $9.95 "destination fee" covers Internet access, shuttle service, in-hotel activities, use of the gym, and a free newspaper. Parking is an additional $29 per night. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is five.
Contact: 866/583-4162, harbormagic.com.
Providence, R.I., from $199 per night
Sitting at the mouth of its namesake river on Narragansett Bay, Providence is one of the first established cities in America, dating back to 1636—and it has all the well-preserved historic architecture and landmarks that you'd expect, plus a vibrant art community. In terms of wacky attractions, one of the most notable is the Tower Hill Road in Cumberland, just outside Providence. According to urban legend, the ghosts of a little boy and girl who lost their lives in a car accident there haunt the road. Some visitors have claimed that electronic equipment ceased to function as they passed through the area. More strangeness: the 58-foot-long blue bug on top of the New England Pest Control Company building; the ancient 24-foot-tall tower in the heart of town, which some believe is evidence that the Chinese set foot in America several centuries before the Europeans; and the grave of Mercy Brown, thought to be haunted by her ghost after her grave was dug up and her heart burned because of rumors that she was a vampire. The package includes one night at the Marriott Providence Downtown, a 351-room hotel is in the heart of the city, walking distance to the Providence Place Mall and Brown University. Rates start at $199 per room per night.
Details: Taxes are an additional 13 percent. The mandatory $9.95 "connectivity fee" covers Internet use and all local calls. Parking is free. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is five.
Contact: 866/807-2171, marriottprovidence.com.
Boston, Mass., from $209 per night
Boston has played a key role in the shaping of America since the city's founding in 1630. It was the site of several major events during the American Revolution, including the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. But don't let the city's serious facade fool you—there's plenty of quirkiness to be had.
Try stopping by the Bridgewater Triangle, believed to be a hotspot for paranormal creatures a la Bigfoot, ghosts, and UFOs. Boston is also home to the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), the only museum in the world dedicated to collecting and displaying bad art in all shapes and forms. The Skinny House at 44 Hull Street is a four-story, 10-foot-wide, 18th-century home whose original owner built it with the intention of blocking the view from his brother's home. Visitors to the Public Gardens and Commons in Beacon Hill have reported spotting the ghosts of two elderly ladies dressed in white and strolling arm in arm. The package includes an overnight stay at the Courtyard Boston Cambridge Hotel, whose 203 guest rooms feature panoramic views of the Boston skyline, Cambridge, or the Charles River. An indoor swimming pool with an adjacent observation deck, a fitness center, and a laundry room are among the amenities. Rates start at $209 a night.
Details: Taxes are an additional 12 percent. Internet and phone access is free. Parking is $22 per night. Based on single or double occupancy. Maximum occupancy per room is four.
Contact: 617/492-7777, marriott.com.