A Fun Afternoon At Hot Sam’s Foto Park

Written by Lee.  He went exploring on one of my work days and this was a solo trip.  Generally when we go to a new area we make a list of places we might like to see.  I’ll look at the list and decided which ones don’t matter to me much (Lee wants to see everything) and then Lee can do those on my work days. Occasionally if its really awesome he will even make a second trip so I can see it! – Trace

This post is going to be almost all pictures. I was poking around in the Roadside America app one day and saw this place Hot Sam’s was just a few miles away so I jumped in the truck and headed over. It was worth every minute and and every penny!

It’s part photo park, theme park, artist’s haven, junkyard, antique shop. It is undeniably unique. And how you perceive this place depends on your individual preferences. If you like the odd, unusual and quirky, you’ll appreciate Hot Sam’s.

There are quite a few great stories online about this place, but I think the pictures tell it all! I happily spent a few hours there and met with the owner and the resident sculpture artist, and just had a great time. There isn’t room to park an RV there, but there IS a restaurant just across the street with ample parking, so if you grab some lunch there I bet they wouldn’t mind if you left your rig there while you spent some time at Hot Sam’s. In the picture below you can see Hot Sam’s is just off Interstate 35, and just across the street from the Red Fox Tavern. This is what the entrance looks like, so it’s not hard to find at all. Right when you pull in you are greeted by the “shutter bug”, a massive (like bigger than a car) sculpture.     From that point I decided to drive all the way in and park and then walk back down to the entrance because there was just so much to take pictures of and I didn’t want to block the road.

This is the parking area, just on the other side of that head is I-35.


Off to the side of the parking area is a long low building that houses a lot of antiques. Looks and feels like a normal antique or “junk” shop.


Inside the long low building.


If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of an old gas pump looks like, this is it.


Love these bar stools.


Creepy Roger Rabbit and Jessica figures on the porch of the main building, which is a log cabin.

I am seeing these pics for the first time as I proof read the post and that is just weird and creepy. Looks like she is going to jump down on you. YIKES – Trace

  The back entrance of the main building is closest to the parking area. When I spoke to the owner he explained to me that this was originally a sales model of a log cabin company.                                  

Lady Liberty overlooks the parking lot.


Two stories of spiral staircase.


Walkway to the train car that serves as an art studio. With a rocket, because, why not??

That’s pretty cool – Trace


I loved this two story sunflower, and you can also see the side of the log cabin and the back of a kid’s playhouse/treehouse built and painted to look like a giant birdhouse.


This is the front of the playhouse/treehouse/birdhouse.


Front of the log cabin.


One of my favorite pieces, a tree growing up through and around an old rowboat.

      Working my way down the driveway from the parking and house area to the “lower grotto”.                  

There are several old circus wagons, which were just fascinating.


Another two stories of spiral staircase!!

    This might be one of the coolest things on the property. It’s an old boat that someone rebuilt to look like a land speeder from Star Wars. It was unclear by the way it was surrounded by dirt if it was retrofitted to drive on the ground like a car, or if it was meant to stay a boat, but it was well done, if a bit weathered. Ok  that’s  cool  – Trace                    

Featuring state of the art navigation via a label maker, and steering via a video game joystick.  Again very cool – Trace


and what speeder would be complete without a Radio Shack amplifier?


If you are willing to walk a little farther, you can see whatever the owner currently is displaying to the Interstate to entice folks off the highway, like this Finding Nemo car, and a rocket ship.  The ingenuity is impressive – Trace


Loved this sculpture. Everything on the property is for sale except the three buildings, and rumor has it that all prices are negotiable, and that the final price is based largely on what Jake thinks of the buyer.


Also loved this alien car, as well as the HUGE UFO suspended on a cable strung across the pond.

Again super impressive that a regular person did this – Trace


Unfortunately there was nothing to use for scale, but the handlebars on this oversized motorcycle were WAY over my head.


To give you an idea of the size, the “sidecar” is actually the front of a boat.

Wow a tug boat – Trace

For our hippie camper friends – Trace


Back at the driveway, this Superman is suspended over head.

I don’t even know what to say about this one – Trace

GUMBY!!!! – Trace

                                    I also for some reason really got a kick out of this elaborate display of Avon perfume and cologne bottles.                                                                                

At the end of the driveway, or the beginning, depending on your perspective, there is a phone. Not plugged into anything, just hanging there. In case someone wants to buy it. (Again you gotta wonder what was going on in this guys mind- Trace)


The entrance/exit is guarded by another one of those GIANT metal sunflowers. Those things are easily 10 feet across.


And here’s the end!


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First Time in Tracy

To be fair this isn’t the first time I have been to a city named Tracy.  It’s goofy, but if possible I like to stop in these cities and take a picture of me by the sign.  My first experience with this was many years ago when I was on a business trip to San Francisco area and my travel partner was driving on the freeway and we were lost.  Suddenly a sign said “Tracy, Turn Here”..so of course we did and found a super cute little town. We also eventually found the place we were supposed to be going to 🙂  In this case because Tracy was right next door to Walnut Grove I knew we had to stop and huge bonus it turned out they had a train museum in the small town.      



We are always amazed by the quality of local museums and this was absolutely no exception. The Wheels Around the Prairie museum was HUGE with multiple buildings and loads of exhibits which were obviously donated by locals.  Plus they had a full size train, which Lee loved, and although it was pretty hot we enjoyed wandering through the buildings.  Especially because hardly anyone was there. 


They had a local veteran exhibit as well which is always nice to see in a small town


Loved this picture with Tracy and the Train. Yes I know its goofy 🙂


It’s always nice when you can climb into the train


Huge engine. Way taller than I am


Although sometimes cheesy I always like when they set up little vignettes



This was unusual as it was the old city council layout. I don’t think I have ever seen this before but glad they did it.  Small town politics is an important part of small town life.

There was one HUGE warehouse that had tons of stuff in it


My favorite was the counter from the old local diner


The old barber shop


Because many Norwegians settled here they also had some beautiful pieces of handmade art that were donated. 


This children bed was gorgeous

Even had a train on the top


And this handmade clock was really special

The only downside to our visit was many of the buildings were not air conditioned and by this time of day it was really hot…especially with masks on.  It so was so lovely getting out and exploring though, so if you visit Walnut Grove we absolutely recommend you drive a few extra miles and visit Tracy as well. 


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazonor buy the Apple version on iTunes.