Whether they’re holdovers from the days past that never got updated or mind-twisting restrictions written up after some random incident gone wrong, there are dozens of outdated and just-plain-strange laws still on the books in the United States. Here are a few of the wackiest laws in America—and be careful, some of them may apply to you!
Alabama: Don’t Play Cards on Sunday
In Alabama, you may not play cards on Sunday. For that matter, shooting, hunting, or racing are verboten, too. The prohibitions are part of a law that states people may not force others to work on Sunday. As a result most shops must be closed on Sunday—fortunately, newspaper stands and ice cream shops are among the exemptions.
Alaska: Don’t Push a Moose From an Airplane
In Alaska, moose and airplanes don’t mix. There’s one law on the books saying moose may not be viewed from an airplane, and another prohibiting you from pushing a live moose out of a moving airplane. Amateur aviators would do well to avoid this gentle beast!
Arizona: Let Your Cactus Be
In Arizona, be cautious when you landscape: If you’ve got a cactus in your yard, it may be illegal to cut it down! This law was created to protect the wild Saguaro cactus, an Arizonian treasure that some troublemakers enjoy shooting or cutting down.
Arkansas: Don’t Honk if You’re Hungry
California: Dogs Can’t Go to School
Mary had her little lamb, but in Cathedral City, California, it’s not just against the rules to bring your pet dog to school—it’s against the law! Only dogs working for law enforcement or as service dogs are permitted on school property, unless the school is using them for teaching purposes.
Colorado: No Couches Outside
Sorry if you like to lounge outside: In Boulder, Colorado, it’s illegal to have a couch or other type of upholstered furniture not sold for outdoor use on your front porch, front yard, or side yard. While it might seem like a blow to outdoor living enthusiasts, this law was actually enacted to curb the practice of post-football-game burning of couches by University of Colorado fans.
Connecticut: White String Lights Only
Delaware: Watch Your Children
Treats allowed, but no tricks! In Rehoboth Beach, you may not allow your children to “cause mischief” on city streets or sidewalks. Children under 14 are allowed to go door to door on Halloween—but only between 6 and 8 p.m.
Florida: Doors Must Open Outward
In Florida, the doors of any public building—including theaters, opera halls, and other entertainment complexes—must open outward. While it may seems silly to specify the minutia of architectural details, it’s actually a safety mechanism to ensure people inside can escape in case of fire or other emergencies.
Georgia: No Carving Trees
You and your lover may want to carve your initials into a tree to symbolize your eternal bond—but in Columbus, Georgia, it’s illegal! Even in your own yard, but especially on public property, you may not deface a tree, fence or side of a building with writing, cutting or other artistic attempts.
Hawaii: Curb the Outdoor Ads
Idaho: Be Careful with Porch Cleanup
Illinois: Wait to Plant Grass
It’s not smart to plant new grass in the summer, but in Crystal Lake, Illinois, you might be breaking the law, too. There, no one can use city water to hydrate new sod planted in the summer months. Since grass is notoriously hard to grow in hot weather, there’s more than one good reason to wait until fall to lay new turf!
Indiana: You Gotta Get a Referral
Want to see a hypnotist? In Indiana, you can go ahead and schedule that appointment if you’re trying to quit smoking or lose weight—but if you want to visit them to work on an addiction like gambling, or a disorder like kleptomania or bedwetting, you’ll need a referral from your physician first.
Iowa: Leave the Flowers Alone
In Iowa, they’re serious about their greenery: No trees or flowers may cut from city parks—or else! So think twice before you idly pluck a blossom on your morning walk.
Kansas: Mind Your Weeds
In Topeka, Kansas, weeding your yard is literally the law! A local statute mandates that you (or your tenant) must control any weeds found in your own yard, as well as along the street, sidewalk, alley, or other areas directly around your home.
Kentucky: Quit Dying Your Chicks
Pink bunnies and baby-blue chicks may be your little kid’s dream, but in Kentucky, they’re illegal! In fact, you’re not allowed to dye or sell any colored baby chicks, ducklings, or rabbits. It's just as well that these creatures illegal—baby animals make terrible Easter gifts. Livestock animals can carry diseases and are often abandoned by families in parks or animal shelters after the novelty wears off. Stick to bunny-shaped candy and plush toys, if you want to give a memorable holiday gift.
Louisiana: No Fake Fighting Allowed
In Louisiana, don’t even think about throwing a fake punch! Anyone who participates in or is a party to a sham boxing or wrestling match will immediately lose his license. We presume that excludes letting your kid win an arm-wrestling match, though.
Maine: No Riding on the Sidewalk
Stick to the streets: In Biddeford, Maine, skating and biking are strictly prohibited on public sidewalks. We presume you get a break on the $10 fine if you’re still using training wheels.
Maryland: Bite Your Tongue!
Massachusetts: Watch Out on the Commons
In Massachusetts, they really care about their green common spaces. A few things you can’t do there: Wear heels over three inches high, have duels to the death on Sundays (unless the Governor is present), graze your livestock, carry a bathtub, or carry a shotgun (unless there’s an imminent threat of bears).
Michigan: Care for Your Old Radio
Minnesota: Watering on an Odd Day?
Be careful when you water your lawn in Cottage Grove, Minnesota: In an effort to conserve water, residents of even-numbered addresses may only water their lawns on even-numbered days, and vice versa. Your only free pass: Everyone is free to water the grass on the 31st day of the month.
Related: 7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn
Mississippi: Burglar Bar Restrictions
Missouri: Yard Sale Stoppage
Montana: Pool Tables Must Be Visible from Street
Pool sharks: You can forget about throwing a private party in Kalispell, Montana. The law mandates that pool tables in billiards halls must be visible from the street in front of the hall without obstruction from screens, curtains, or furnishings. Too bad for anyone who's self-conscious about their break shot.
Nebraska: Drive Carefully Near Mountains
When passing a mountain in Nebraska, you're required by law to keep your vehicle as close to the right-hand side of the highway as possible. It sounds reasonable, except when you consider that there are no real mountains in Nebraska. The state's highest point is Panorama Peak, not a mountain but rather a small rise in a stretch of landscape called the High Plains.
Nevada: Men Can't Buy a Round at Happy Hour
If you're taking the company out for a team-building drink, skip Nyala. The law there states that a man can't buy drinks for more than three people other than himself during the day. While it's not clear if women are held to the same ordinance, better to be safe than sorry.
Related: 18 Small Towns with Strange Claims to Fame
New Hampshire: Don't Drink and Dance
The next time you're listening to your favorite tunes at a restaurant in New Hampshire, stop yourself before you shimmy or shake to the rhythm: It's forbidden to move in accompaniment to music in establishments that sell alcohol.
New Jersey: Plant No Trees
New Mexico: Don't Forget the Lyrics
Take a deep breath before you belt out either "The Star Spangled Banner" or the state anthem, "O Fair New Mexico." It's illegal in New Mexico to sing or play only a portion of these harmonies in a public setting—the entire composition must be completed. Should you run afoul of the authorities, you probably won't do time: The crime is classified as a petty misdemeanor.
New York: Careful When Camping
If you're planning a weekend camping trip in the wilds of Kendall, New York, you'll need to get a special permit first. It's illegal to camp on a non-approved campground there for more than 72 hours. Even with a permit, you can't rough it on your sanctioned campsite for more than two weeks in a calendar year.
North Carolina: Call It a Night
If you're planning a bingo game fundraiser at the local school or church, better keep it short. In North Carolina, it's illegal for games to last longer than five hours. So give your stamping hand a rest and know when to call it a night.
North Dakota: Party Quietly
Devils Lake, North Dakota may have a mischievous name, but it's surprisingly tame in its town rituals. Local law dictates that you can't set off fireworks before July 1 or after July 5. And you can forget a midnight Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza: The city mandates there will be no fireworks set after 11 p.m. or before 8 a.m.
Ohio: Stay Off the Road
If your little one loves to scoot around in a mini coupe, they'd better stick to the driveway or the sidewalk. It's illegal for a person to ride a toy car on city streets, except when crossing a street at a crosswalk. Aside from being illegal, it's just common sense that your first-grader should watch out for traffic and always stay out of the street. Safety first!
Oklahoma: Get a Plant Instead
There are no eccentric cat ladies living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. You can't keep more than two adult cats or two dogs on any property you own or lease within town. The only exception to the rule is if you acquired your four-legged friends before August 10, 2010 and can provide documented proof that you are their owner.
Oregon: No Love on the Ice
Portland, Oregon is known as a cool and quirky place to live, but when it comes to wedding ceremonies, the law maintains it's better not to be too eccentric: Weddings performed on ice rinks are strictly prohibited. The law may be a blessing in disguise for brides. Walking with a wedding dress train is hard enough without worrying about it freezing to the ice!
Pennsylvania: Whistle While You Work—Not Outside
A modern reenactment of Gene Kelly's famous scene in "Singin' in the Rain" won't be met with applause in Danville, Pennsylvania. Singing, along with whistling and hooting, is considered a prohibited noise on public streets. No matter how silky smooth your voice, the city will label your performance as a disturbance to your neighbors.
Rhode Island: No Sunday Football
South Carolina: Pinball Wizards 18+
In South Carolina, it's illegal for minors to play on a pinball machine. Not that they'd necessarily want to, thanks to those handheld devices they're always carrying around with them.
South Dakota: Don't Sleep Near the Cheese
If you want to catch a few winks in South Dakota, the local cheese factory is not the place to do it. For that matter, bakeries, dining rooms, and confectionaries are off limits as well. Food sanitary laws clearly state that you can't sleep in these places—unless food there is kept in closed packages at all times.
Tennessee: Sorry, Skunk Lovers
You can forget your dreams of domesticating the nation's smelliest animal if you live in Tennessee. It's illegal to import or own live skunks within state lines unless they came from a zoo or research institution. Whether the law is a bid to protect its residents or curtail the hijinks of pranksters is unclear, but Tennesseans can take heart that they won't be seeing this animal in pet stores any time soon.
Related: How to Get Rid of Skunks
Texas: Don't Land on the Beach
If the captains of the fictional Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 in the TV series "Lost" had made their beach landing in Galveston, Texas instead of the South Pacific, they would have been in violation of the law. It's illegal to take off or land a plane on the beach in the coastal Texas town. So if you're seeking a landing pad with a scenic ocean view, you'll have to look outside of Galveston's 32 miles of gulf beaches.
Utah: No Snowball Fights
Provo, Utah looks like a winter wonderland in the cold season, but don't let that white, powdery fluff tempt you to start a snowball fight. City law classifies snowballs, along with stones and sticks, as "missiles." Throwing a snowball at a person or property, even if your intent is only to annoy the person, could put you on the hook for a misdemeanor charge.
Vermont: Line-Drying for Life
Clotheslines may have gone out of favor with the advent of modern dryers, but Vermont has no plans to outlaw the timeless tradition. In fact, the state has a law on the books that no law can be passed now or in the future to prevent the installation or use of clotheslines. If you're a lifelong line-dryer, keep on pinning up those clothes with pride.
Virginia: Close the Gate
In Frederick, Virginia, one moment of forgetfulness after lounging in the pool could set you back $2,500, the fine for leaving a pool gate open when you're not swimming. Of course, an open pool gate would be a rare sight in Frederick in any case, since the same ordinance requires that all pool gates be self-closing and self-latching.
Washington: Save Sasquatch
The existence of Sasquatch may not have been proven, but the city of Skamania has long held that its residents should not have the right to bother Bigfoot if they do encounter it. In fact, the city passed the "Undiscovered Species Protection Act” in 1969 that made it a crime to harass or hurt the elusive primate. Should you harm a hair on Bigfoot's head, you could face a fine of $500 to $1,000, jail time, or a combination of both.
West Virginia: Duelers Need Not Apply
Pugnacious West Virginians of old may have had to reconsider their political ambitions. State law forbids individuals who have sent or accepted a challenge to a duel from ever holding public office. Of course, since the custom of dueling fell out of favor more than 100 years ago, it's probably safe to take this antiquated law off the books.
Wisconsin: No Fake Dairy
Wisconsinites love their dairy—a fact that's reflected on the books. State law forbids restaurants from substituting margarine for butter unless a customer specifically asks for the substitution. Food purists can eat secure in the knowledge that the dollop of dairy on that stack of pancakes is bona fide butter.
Related: 15 Things Never to Put in the Fridge
Wyoming: Don't Buy from Drunks
The next time you seek out supplies for a DIY project, pay special attention to the sobriety status of the person from whom you're buying. In Wyoming, it's illegal to buy paper, rubber, rags, or metals from a person who seems to be drunk. Of course, if the vendor is merely intoxicated by the love of all things DIY, you should be on the right side of the law.
Related: 11 Things Never to Buy Secondhand
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newslettertoday!