It only took us four years but we finally made it down to Hot Sam’s Antiques, a “junkyard theme park” located off Highway 35 in Lakeville, half an hour from Minneapolis.
Talk about a roadside attraction! Hot Sam’s was founded in 1985 by Bobbie “Jake” Hood and his mom Gladys “Hot Sam” Hood. As her nickname suggests, Gladys was a pistol — a former stock car racer who broke the land speed record at the 1956 Nascar Powder Puff in Daytona Beach. Gladys passed away in 2010, but Jake proudly carries the torch of this eclectic wonderland: part antiques shop, photo/movie set, outsider art haven, and sculpture park.
The self-proclaimed junkman can often be found puttering around the 10-acre property in an ATV or chatting up visitors with his partner, Kathy Sakry. His creativity knows no bounds. Turn a discarded hot tub from a Vikings training camp into a giant 24-foot guitar? Why not?
There’s so much to see at Hot Sam’s, it boggles the mind: We spent an hour last weekend wandering from curiosity to curiosity, taking a billion pictures of the kiddo. Among the more memorable photo props: an old jalopy driven by aliens, a vintage car with a Finding Nemo paint job, a UFO suspended over a swamp, a giant Tweety Bird in a giant cage, an old circus wagon ringed with monkeys, a brontosaurus with a saddle, a St. Paul Police paddy wagon, a fence decorated in creepy baby doll heads, a beachfront tiki hut and hippie camper van, and Superman flying through the air.
Browsing the log cabin stuffed with antiques is free. Shooting photos of the grounds costs $5 per person if you use a cell phone or $25 if you’re doing a professional shoot with a DLSR or mirrorless camera.
Hot Sam’s is open six days a week (Fri-Wed) from 10am-6pm. If you’re already headed south, note that Sam’s is three minutes from Wild Oaks Ranch, a vineyard and winery founded in 2019 by a former police officer injured in the line of duty (a portion of the proceeds benefit the Minnesota Fallen Officer Foundation); 10 minutes from the Elko Speedway drive-in movie theater in Elko New Market; and 15 minutes from Sweetland Orchard in Webster, one of the best apple orchards and cideries in the state.
Hot Sam’s Antiques
22820 Pillsbury Ave., Lakeville, MN; 952-469-5922.