The Best Roadside Attractions In The USA

27 December 2016
Read Time: 9.3 mins

The USA is filled with incredible sights, many of which you don't even have to get out of your car to see. In the country where road tripping is the ultimate bucket-list adventure, roadside attractions offer travellers a fun way to break up those endless stretches of highway. It doesn't hurt that all are wonderfully weird in the most endearing sort of way ...

 

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Lady in the Lake in Elberta, Alabama

Built by fibreglass sculptor Mark Cline, this cheeky Alabama attraction was commissioned by billionaire art patron George Barber. She has received mixed reviews from locals, but travellers often stop to get a photo of the floating statue.

 

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Last Train To Nowhere in Nome, Alaska

Remnants of the gold rush days in Alaska, this rusty old train (circa 1881) is what's left of a dream to build a railroad from the now extinct town of Dickson to Nome.

 

Wigwam Village Motel No. 6 in Holbrook, Arizona

An icon along an icon, this roadside attraction draws plenty of Route 66 drivers to its doorstep. But did you know it's one of seven similar villages scattered around the US?

 

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Christ of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Standing 65.5 feet high, this massive Jesus statue was built by Gerald L K Smith as part of a religious-themed amusement park in 1966.

 

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Cabazon Dinosaurs in Cabazon, California

Made famous on the silver screen by the likes of Pewee's Big Adventure, these dinosaurs are a roadside attraction can easily be reached from Interstate 10. Their names are Mr. Rex (a 100-ton Tyrannosaurus rex) and Dinny the Dinosaur (a 150-ton Brontosaurus). If you feel like stopping, there is also a museum and tours are available inside the dinos.

Herkimer, the World's Largest Beetle in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Positioned along Highway 115 just past Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Herkimer is one heck of a beetle! He was built in the 1950s and is a West Indian Hercules beetle.

 

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Louis' Lunch, Home of the Hamburger in New Haven, Connecticut

You can't go to the USA and not have a hamburger. Sure roadside restaurants across the country serve them up, but why not get to the home of the hamburger in Connecticut? The story goes: a man came into the restaurant sometime in 1900 looking for something he could eat on the run. Louis Lassen placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast. The rest is history.

Fountain of Youth in Lewes, Delaware

Lewes' Fountain of Youth was said to have been discovered in 1631 by the first Dutch colonists in the area. A small gazebo was built around it in 1937 to mark the magical spot, but the waters have since run dry. Still, definitely worth a photo op.

 

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City of Mermaids in Weeki Wachee, Florida

If you find yourself passing through Spring Hill, it's well worth making a side trip to the City of Mermaids to watch the mermaids swim. There is a full schedule of shows and tickets can be purchased at the door.

 

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Tank Town USA in Morangton, Georgia

Have you ever dreamed of crushing a car with a tank? Well, now's your chance! Learn how to drive one of these massive machines before taking to the course to roll over bumps, through water and, yes, over cars.

 

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World's largest plant maze in Wahiawa, Hawaii

Head to the Dole Pineapple Plantation to try your skills at navigating this massive plant maze. It stretches over three acres and includes nearly two and a half miles of paths. It is constructed of 14,000 colourful native Hawaiian plants!

 

Spud Drive-In in Driggs, Idaho

Just outside of the small town of Driggs stands a classic drive-in theatre, still funtioning with a regular schedule of shows through the summer months. If that's not cool enough to entice you to pull over for a movie-length break, there's a giant potato parked out front!

 

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World's Largest Bottle of Catsup in Collinsville, Illinois

Overlooking Route 159 just south of downtown Collinsville, this roadside attraction is exactly as it sounds. The water tower was built in 1949 and has achieved iconic status throughout Illinois. It even has its own official fan club!

World's largest sycamore stump in Kokomo, Indiana

This massive stump is over 57 feet around, 12 feet high and 18 feet wide. No one is quite sure how old it is, but it is said to be in the centuries. As you can imagine, it was once a massive tree but was felled by a storm. It's now on display at Highland Park.

 

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Tree in the middle of the road in Brayton, Iowa

If you're passing through Brayton, make sure you head to the intersection of Nighthawk Avenue and 350th Street to see the tree in the middle of the road.

 

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Rainbow Bridge in Baxter Springs, Kansas

Another highlight of The Mother Road, this bridge is the last of its kind along the entire length of Route 66. It's even on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

World's largest bat in Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville happens to be home to two of the world's largest bats, one of the animal variety (hanging off the side of Caufield's Novelty). The other is of the baseball variety positioned in front of the Louisville Slugger Museum. It's an exact replica of the slugger Babe Ruth used.

Bonnie and Clyde death site in Gibsland, Louisiana

When you're driving through Gibsland, you can check out the spot where hidden lawmen took down two of history's most famous bandits. Heading south on highway 154, there is a monument dedicated to Bonne and Clyde approximately six miles from Gibsland.

 

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International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine

Are you a believer in Big Foot? What about the Loch Ness Monster? If so, get to this quirky museum dedicated to the world's most famous cryptids. Not only does it feature exhibits on the likes of the Yeti and mermaids, there are also exhibits covering living fossils and other classic animals of discovery.

 

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Testudo the Turtle in College Park, Maryland

Travelling students take note! If you're looking for a little extra luck on your next exam, get to College Park in Maryland to visit Testudo. The turtle is the mascot of the University of Maryland and there is a large bronze statue of him at the heart of the campus. It's said if you rub his nose, you'll be blessed with good luck.

The paper house in Rockport, Massachusetts

Just north of Boston, the paper house is an actual, life-size house made from newspaper. Built by Elis F Stenman, construction was started in 1922 as a hobby for the mechanical engineer. Not only is the entire exterior of the home made of paper, but the inteiors are as well. This includes the furniture.

 

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Giant Fist of Joe Louis in Detroit, Michigan

This giant monument was built to honour Joe 'The Fist' Louis. For those who may not be up on their boxing history, Joe was a famed heavy weight champion. His Motor City monument is 24-feet long suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal frame.

 

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Akeley, Minnesota

This roadside pair is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been a staple of Bemidji since the Great Depression. It was built to draw tourists to the town and represents its history as a logging and lumbering centre in the US.

 

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Elvis in Tupelo, Mississippi

If you're a big fan of the King, head to his birthplace in Tupelo. The town is brimming with tributes, including a bronze statue of Elvis reaching out as if to take the hand of an adoring fan. The statue was erected in 2012 by Bill Beckwith.

 

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Route 66 Rocker in Cuba, Missouri

Another icon of Route 66, this giant rocking chair has featured in road trip photos since 2008. It was originally built as an April Fool's Day joke, but quickly ingratiated itself with both locals and travellers. At over 42-feet tall, it was the world's tallest rocker until 2016.

 

Custer's Last Stand in Crow Agency, Montana

Known as the worst military defeat in US history, General Custer and 262 troopers were defeated in the Battle of Little Big Horn by the Lakota Native Americans. The grassy battlefield has been preserved and today features a number of memorials along with a walking trail across the plain.

 

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Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska

Not to be confused with the slightly more famous Stonehenge, this quirky artwork is a must for anyone driving through Nebraska.

 

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Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is known for its iconic neon signs, but occasionally they have to be replaced by bigger, newer, flashier versions. This 6-acre outdoor museum is where the old signs go to die. An excellent trip through memory lane, you can still see many of the city's most famous signs.

Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire

Experience the fun of Christmas at any time of the year at this unique amusement park! Featuring 23 rides, all of which have a Christmas theme, it provides an excellent family-friendly roadside stop.

 

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Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey

Lucy happens to be the oldest surviving roadside attraction in the USA. Built in 1881, this elephant-shaped building is 65-feet high and weighs approximately 90 tons!

Roswell in Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell is quite possibly the most famous city in New Mexico. Known for its paranormal history, it calls to alien enthusiasts from around the world. There are plenty of cool attractions to check out here, including the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

 

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Cardiff Giant in Cooperstown, New York

Perhaps the greatest prank ever pulled, this 10-foot tall statue was created by George Hull. He wanted to convince religious members of his community that giants were real by commissioning a 10-foot carving in his own likeness. He aged the carving to make it look like a petrified man and had it buried to be discovered by two men he hired to dig a well.

 

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Shell shaped gas station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Constructed in 1930 to bring brand awareness for Shell gasoline to Winston-Salem, this charming gas station still stands. It's part of the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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Geographical center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota

Does this one need any more explanation? Stop off and get a photo at the stone marker. You'll be the envy of all your Facebook friends!

 

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World's Oldest Traffic Light in Ashville, Ohio

There are several spots that claim to have the world's oldest traffic light, but Ashville insists the real deal is here. Their version is on permanent display at the Ohio Small Town Museum along with the world's biggest scrapbook.

 

The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma

If you feel like you've seen this guy before, it's because you probably have. It's a waterfront structure that's become one of the most recognisable features along the old Route 66.

 

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Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Oregon

Throw everything you know to be true out the window. This mysterious spot defies all logic! Tricking your sense of perception, the home features several optical illusions; however, the owners of the home insist it is the result of paranormal activity …

 

Hershey's Chocolate Factory Tour in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Who doesn't love a chocolate tour? Check out America's most famous brand next time you’re travelling through Hershey, Pennsylvania. The tour itself if completely free. There are also a number of other immersive experiences to try out, with tickets available for purchase at the door.

 

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World's Largest Bug in Providence, Rhode Island

Known as Nibbles Woodaway or the Big Blue Bug, this monster termite has long been the mascot of the Big Blue Bug Solutions company located on I-95. He comes in at nine-feet tall, 58-feet long and weighs 4,000 pounds. Tha's 928 times larger than an actual termite!

Miniature Golf Capital of the World in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Mytrle Beach is known for a few different things, from Spring Break hotspot to its famous Grand Stand beaches, but it also happens to be the mini golf capital of the world. And a trip to or through this spot is not complete without teeing up for a little putt-putt. You’ll be spoilt for choice with more than 50 courses to choose from!

Chief Crazy Horse Memorial in Crazy Horse, South Dakota

Plenty of people flock to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, but the often overlooked Crazy Horse memorial is definitely worth the trip. It also just so happens to currently be the world’s largest mountain carving in progress.

 

Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee

Tupelo may be where Elvis was born, but Graceland is where he lived. See his home in all of its extravagant glory on a tour.

 

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Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas

When you’re travelling along Route 66, this roadside attraction is well worth a stop to take a moment to appreciate you’re at the exact middle of the famous route. Oh yeah, and there’s pie!

 

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Hole N” The Rock in Moab, Utah

If you have 12 minutes to spare, pull over for a tour of one of the world’s most unique homes. This 5,000 square foot residence is carved out of one of the massive stones in Utah’s Canyonlands Country. There is also an exotic zoo and a collection of metal sculptures.

Ben & Jerry’s Factory and Flavor Graveyard in Waterbury, Vermont

Sure it’s pretty cool getting the chance to tour the Ben & Jerry’s facility to see just how they make all of those delicious ice creams, but be sure to make time to stop off at the Flavor Graveyard to pay homage to your favourite flavours past.

 

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World’s Oldest Edible Ham in Smithfield, Virginia

How could you not stop and check out the prize piece at the Isle of Wight County Museum? This hunk of meat was cured in 1902 and is still edible to this day. In fact, one of the jobs of the curator of this small museum is to keep the ham free of bugs and mold to keep it as 'fresh' as the day it was preserved.

 

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Fremont Troll in Seattle, Washington

Hidden under a bridge in the heart of Seattle, this public sculpture is made of steel rebar, wire and concrete. It’s 18-feet tall and weighs in at 13,000 pounds. That’s not including the Volkswagen.

Land of Giants in Unger, West Virginia

Created on the whim of a former Washington lawyer and his wife with access to the Internet and too much time on their hands, this collection of 20-foot tall statues is now a unique way to waste an hour or two when you’re passing through West Virginia.

Bronze Fonze in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Home to the crash landing spot of Sputnik and the world's largest ball of twine, it's hard to choose just one favourite roadside attraction in Wisconsin. But, if we have to, it's gonna be the Bronze Fonz in Milwaukee. Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

 

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Tree in the rock in Buford, Wyoming

There are a lot of trees in Wyoming, so many that they even grow out of rocks. Or so this roadside attraction leads me to believe. Not only is it found in Buford, the smallest town in America (with a population of just one person), but it is positioned right along I-80. It was discovered in the 1860s by railroad workers and has been reaching for the skies ever since.


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