20 Strange and Surprising Reasons to Visit These Northeast Towns

As a travel writer open and game to exploring the offbeat and oddball within a few hours or one day’s drive of New York City (Virginia to Maine), I’ve stumbled on some pretty bizarre, eccentric and/or downright weird things. Here’s just a sampling from this year’s explorations:

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1. Stamford, CT

The unapologetically sensationalist Jerry Springer Show was relocated to this corporate CT city from Chicago in 2009. The “Sultan of Salaciousness” tapes in Stamford on Mondays and Tuesdays, followed by Maury Povich, Trisha Goddard, and Steve Wilkos on other days. World Wrestling Federation (now Entertainment — WWE) is also headquartered in Stamford. Other offbeat trivia — the Presbyterian Church is in the shape of a fish, and quirky actor and Stamford resident, Gene Wilder serves on the board of the great independent “art” move theater, The Avon Theater.


2. Niantic, CT

The Book Barn: Mo and Randi White started buying and selling used books 25 years ago, and their little book nook has morphed into a 500,000 used book wonderland, with goats and turtles and assemblage of whimsical buildings on several acres. The “Ellis Island” shed holds “Recent Arrivals,” while the “Haunted Barn” harbors Mystery and Horror novels. The Whites purchase around 10,000 books a week (from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; just let them know the number of boxes you’re selling), and sell most for $1 to $5 each.

3. New Haven, CT

This University (Yale) and Theater Town (Schubert, Long Wharf, Yale Rep) has seen its share of strange episodes, but in late October, 2012, Hurricane Sandy toppled a tree on the New Haven Green, revealing human skeletons in its roots. Historians believe that the remains were of victims of a small pox epidemic sometime in the late 1700s, early 1800s.

4. Mystic, CT

Re-launched in 2013, and seaworthy once again, the Charles W. Morgan, originally built in 1841, is the world’s last remaining Whaling Ship — out of 2,700 that plied the world’s waters in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though built in New Bedford MA, it was cared for and restored at Mystic Seaport — where it can be seen (and boarded) today.


5. Essex, CT

The first submarine was built in 1775 to thwart (ok, bomb) British ships during the American Revolution. Called, The Turtle, it looked like a whiskey barrel and was waterproofed with pitch. Sit in a replica of this innovative device at the engaging Connecticut River Museum — in one of Connecticut’s boatiest towns. Stay at the Griswold Inn, opened a month before the Declaration of Independence was signed in June 1776.

6. Wilmington, DE

The 330 ft. Exodus, the ship that carried over 4500 Holocaust survivors from France to British Mandate Palestine, was built in 1927 in Wilmington DE as a packet steamer for the Baltimore Steam Packet Company. Not in the greatest shape to begin with, it was overloaded with…

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