Planning a summer road trip? Visit these roadside attractions along the way

By on April 2, 2013 at 7:55 AM

Posted in: Odds & Ends

The featured article in our Spring newsletter took at a look at 10 of our favorite roadside attractions. Below are a few more unusual, quirky destinations. Share your favorites in the comments!

Cabazon Dinosaurs – Cabazon, Calif.

Come to a real-world Jurassic Park. Ms. Dinny, a 150-ton dinosaur, is the largest concrete dino in the world. You can even climb to the top of a life-size Tyrannosaurus rex. The concrete prehistoric creatures are just a short distance west of Palm Springs and can be seen from Interstate 10.

Leaning Tower – Niles, Ill.

You don’t need to travel all the way to Italy to see a leaning tower – at least not a half-sized replica. Built in 1934, Niles’ leaning tower is now the center of a park. The Midwestern tower is just 15 minutes from O’Hare airport.

World’s Largest Buffalo – Jamestown, N.D.

The 60-ton concrete sculpture has been around for tourists to see and take pictures with since 1959. In 2010, the buffalo was named “Dakota Thunder.”

Now, it’s your turn! Share the hidden treasures in your part of the country in the comments.

52 responses to “Planning a summer road trip? Visit these roadside attractions along the way

  1. Julie Botteri says:

    “Betsy” the giant lobster is located in Islamorada, Florida Keys! 
    US Highway 1 is also called the Overseas Highway, and was named an All-American Road in 2009, the highest recognition possible under the National Scenic Byways program established by the U.S. Congress in 1991. Only 30 other roadways in the nation have earned the prestigious title.

  2. Thomas Deizenroth says:

    Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill, FL is about as iconic and kitchsky as roadside attractions come.  The mermaid shows have been going on there since 1947.  The spring is so deep, they have never even discovered or reached the bottom before !

  3. Donna Howland says:

    You should also check out Cahokia.  What makes this so incredible is that this is the remains of an ancient native American civilization that once existed on the Mississippi river from 700AD to 1250AD.  It is the sight of the largest earthen pyramid (mound) in north America.  Very coolbeans stuff.
    http://www.cahokiamounds.org/

    No one knows why Cahokia existed and why it was abandoned-many theories exist that change daily as more artifacts are dug up at this sight.
    People should really check this out!!     
     

  4. Randyl J. says:

    THE BIG ROADRUNNER
    In our 6 years as full-time RV’ers my husband and I saw many hilarious, entertaining, and creative visual effects along the highway. One of our favorites was a Road Runner inside the rest stop alongside I-10 West of Las Cruces, New Mexico. This gigantic bird was built from scraps – everything from computer and other digital parts to tennis shoes or any special ‘finds’ the students (NMSU, Dona Ana CC, and perhaps other campuses) could come up with. A fun piece of highway art! It has to withstand a LOT of wind out there also! LOL

  5. SharonD says:

    Freedom Rock on Hwy 25 north of Greenfield, IA and south of I-80. The Freedom Rock is a large boulder weighing over 60 tons located in rural Iowa that is repainted every year with a different Thank You for our nations Veterans to honor their service to our country.  The artist, Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II, was inspired by the movieSaving Private Ryan, as well as, wanting to give Veterans a unique recognition on Memorial Day.  A lot of times, you can find him there painting and he’s more than happy to stop and talk, take pictures or listen. If you find images on the rock or ghosts about, people say they’re real.  Bubba is given ashes by families and friends of fallen soldiers that he incorporates into the paintings.  It’s a very humbling and spiritual little spot in rural Iowa.
         Sorensen paints The Freedom Rock on his own with the tremendous support of family and friends.  Sorensen is not commissioned to paint the rock but is able to do so each year with the generous help of donations.  

     http://www.thefreedomrock.com/

  6. Norma Caskey says:

    I can’t believe that the “a-maize-ing” Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota was left off the list –
    It’s been around since the 1890’s and is a tribute to corn and how important it is to our daily life. 
    It’s beautiful and it’s FREE!!
    http://www.cornpalace.org/index.php
    Check it out next time you are near Sioux Falls heading west across South Dakota!

  7. Lenora Small says:

    I fully expected to see the Big Duck in Flanders, New York on your list. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1931 and has waddled to three different locations.

  8. Dan Diego says:

    What about Arizona’s “The Thing?” That infamous roadside wonder advertised on tantlizing roadsigns for hundreds of miles between El Paso and Tucson!
    My dad and I had a blast finally stopping in to rest, gas up and see “it.”  If you’ve been there,  you know ” it” is really…
    Oh, c’mon! You really didn’t think I was going to tell you what “it” is, did you? Go see it!

  9. Sharon Renwick says:

    Griffis Sculpture Park, Elicotville, NY. This was the place to go when I was in high school in the early 70’s . . . and it’s still there only bigger and better.

      http://www.griffispark.org/

  10. Dan Vinet says:

    Ron Jon surf shop in Cocoa Beach Florida. Greatest surf shop in the world

  11. Benjamin Rau says:

    I agree with the Corn Palace, but also would like to suggest Wall Drugs in South Dakota, the store with the Edsels along Route 40 in Arizona, I think. You also left out Lucy the Elephant in Margate, NJ, and the giant thermometer in California.

  12. Nina says:

    I saw foamhendge and it is awesome. Met the guy who built it. was taking pictures outside what turned out to be his workshop and was invited in. talked with artist a few hours. he makes plaster statues like on boardwalk. extremely nice man.

  13. Mermaid SUe says:

    The Big Duck in Flanders, LI, New York is the grand pappy of all the roadside attractions and had lent its name to a specific type of roadside architecture. Duck buildings are highly sculptural forms that represent the products or services available within.
    Built in 1931 by duck farmer Martin Maurer to sell peking (long island) duck. It originally “lived” on West Main in Riverhead, NY, but was moved in 1936. (No small feat – made of concrete – hollow of course – it measures 30′ x20’h x 15’w.) 
    After a couple of subsequent moves it now resides on Rt 24 in Flanders. 

  14. Scott Hall says:

    The Great River Road is a great one and around Alton, Illinois there is a scenic drive heading west through Grafton, IL.  Be sure and check out my Audio Tour App of that route if you go at Hallslearning.com or search River Road Audio Tour on the iTunes and Google Play stores.

  15. RPS says:

    One of the first great roadside attractions, Roadside America in Shartlesville PA, is still going strong after almost 75 years.
    http://www.roadsideamericainc.com/

  16. Tom Ainsworth says:

    Henrys Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois, on Historic Old Route 66 is a must see.  You can sit atop a eight foot tall bunny, see a display of Volkswagen Rabbits, some of which make up a smaller version of the Cadillac Ranch, and see memoriabilia, including one tractor and three of their trailers of the defunct Campbell 66 Express trucking co.  Their Route 66 info center/gift shop resembles an old time gas station with pumps from the 40’s.  http://www.henrysroute66.com.  Open monday-saturday and by chance on sundays.

  17. Michele Bewley says:

    Lucy the Elephant in Margate NJ just outside of Atlantic City is not to be missed – over 100 years old – she is America’s oldest roadside attraction!

  18. John Gunther says:

    Totally unmentioned so far are the surviving examples of the Muffler Man genre — giant, mostly male, fiberglass roadside statues used to promote various businesses. Although the last was manufactured in 1973, a hundred or more are still installed around the US. My area favorite is the roadside indian along State Route 2A in Shirley MA.

  19. Zonykel says:

    “South of the Border” in Dillon, SC seems like a strange recommendation. I’ve been there, and the place looks old and worn out. I needed to use the bathroom and it wasn’t in very good condition. I thought about eating there, but the restaurant did not look appetizing. I left as soon as I could. This is one place to avoid, despite all the billboards you’ll see as you get near it.

  20. Risa says:

    The Painted Desert in Arizona.

  21. David J. says:

    Does anyone know if the world’s largest ball of twine still exists in north-central Kansas?  A buddy and I drove out of our way in 1960 just to see it.

  22. Margie says:

    LUCY the Elephant, Margate NJ

    A highlight of all my trips to the shore in South Jersey. Restored former hotel, and residence, this pachyderm is now a museum and lookout to the Atlantic Ocean

  23. Rubo says:

     
    Don’t forget the remaining Wigwam Village motels in Cave City, KY, Holbrook, AZ, and Rialto, CA.  We stayed at the KY one – very cool.  And Bishop’s Castle in southern CO is amazing.

  24. David says:

    Head North to Bena, Minnesota and see the Big Fish Restaurant.  It was also featured in the opening credits of the movie Vacation.

  25. Pat McReynolds says:

    Alongside I-4 near thonotasasa there is a terrific place for kids called dinosaur world. With giant dinosaurs, a dig, and playground, it is a terrific place to spend the day.

  26. Pat McReynolds says:

    Dinosaur world is in Florida.

  27. Carmen Shirely says:

    Spook Hill located in the City of Lake Wales, Florida, has gained worldwide notoriety as one of the most confounding potentially haunted locations in existence. Visitors come from around the world to park their cars at the bottom of Spook Hill and experience the mysterious force that seems to defy gravity and push the car right up to the top of the hill. Visit Spook Hill, park your car at the white line, put it in neutral, and see the results for yourself!
    Cost: FREE
    In Lake Wales, Florida take S.R. 17 turn east onto J.A. Wiltshire.

    It is so much fun! 

  28. Dr. B. says:

    The East Texas Oil Museum in Kilgore, at Kilgore College. If you like quaint, small, fun museums, this is one of the best.–http://www.easttexasoilmuseum.com/
    Also, the Petroleum Museum on I-20 in Mldland/ODessa, TX. Has lots to look at and do.
    Dinosaur Valley in Glen Rose, TX. on US Highway 67, just outside of Glen Rose. www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/dinosaur-valley
    Check out Fossil Rim Wildlife Park, too. www.fossilrim.org  right next door.

    Also, check out Arbuckle Falls, in OK. Just outside of Ardmore. www.davisok.org/Arbuckle_Attractions/Turner_Falls_Park. A waterfall for swimmers. campground, fun park, and more.

    And last, West Texas A&M at Canyon, TX. Has the Panhandle-plains museum. FANTASTIC! So is Palo Duro Canyon, just a few miles away. About 20 miles south of Amarillo. Gotta see this!
    Almost forgot. Check out the Big Bend area of West Texas. The Old West at your service! LOTS to do. http://www.visitbigbend.com
    More? http://www.traveltex.com


     

  29. mike grello says:

    My favorite has been Acadia Nat’l Park in Bar Harbor , Maine
    Cost for seniors is 10.00 lifetime membership that includes all Nat’l Parks in the USA
    Includes all in your car and free parking

  30. David J. says:

    That giant ball of twine still exists in Cawker City, Kansas.  http://www.kansastravel.org/balloftwine.htm

  31. David J. says:

    Near Santa Cruz, California is The Mystery Spot where the laws of gravity and nature do not apply.  http://www.mysteryspot.com/

  32. Tess says:

    I have several:

    – Longaberger basket company’s home office in Newark, Ohio is really a basket

    – world’s largest catsup bottle is in Collinsville, IL – a 170 ft. tall water tower

    – Rock City at Chatanooga, TN, especially after seeing the many signs & barns painted with See Rock City while driving south!

  33. Greg Marsh says:

    @Julie Botteri: Dang, I was just in Islamorada last month, and I somehow missed the giant lobster! Have to go back, I guess.

  34. Ken Dignon says:

    Sky line drive in West Virginia. The views are breathtaking.

  35. joni says:

    Loved the list, but where are the pictures

  36. Barry says:

    McDonald’s.   Location: Everywhere!

  37. juan aulet says:

    Large 36′ Beatles  statues-can be seen from highway, addres:2500 summers st Houston, Texas 

  38. Bobby Ewing says:

    Adrian, Texas, midway point of Old Route 66! There is a large sign with the Milage to Chicago and to Santa Monica in California. Great little Diner right across the street from the sign.

  39. PDR says:

    Smallest USPS Office in Ochopee,Fl and Skunk Ape Headquarters few miles South.

  40. My Travel says:

    The world’s largest catsup bottle in Collinsville, IL

  41. Jay McDorman says:

    Check out Bedrock City about 15 miles from the entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Valle, AZ. It’s set up like the Flintstones’ hometown. Also look into Grand Canyon Caverns near Seligman, AZ. And don’t forget Bearizona in Williams, AZ: a drive-thru animal park with bears, wolves, and other wild animals just outside your car windows.

  42. @doughgirl says:

    IN LOUISVILLE, KY, THERE ARE A FEW HOT SPOTS TO CHECK OUT, ONE DOWNTOWN LOUISVILLE, ON MAIN STREET, AT THE LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSUEM, THEY HAVE A 100 FOOT LOUISVILLE SLUGGER OUTSIDE THE FACTORY, IT IS AMAZING. SECONDLY, WE HAVE CHURCHILL DOWN, LOCATED ON CENTRAL AVE, IT IS A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES, THEY TOO HAVE A MUSUEM. THEY THERE IS THE NEW KY YUM! CENTER, IT IS RIGHT BY THE EXPRESSWAY FROM LOUISVILLE TO JEFFERSONVILLE, IN. I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST, AND THIS IS FOR THE GHOST LOVERS OUT THERE, OFF OF EAST PAGES LN, YOU WILL SEE A ROAD {ON THE LEFT} CONNECTED TO THE GOLF COURSE, TAKE IT AL THE WAY UP THE HILL, AND YOU WILL RUN DEAD INTO THE WAVERLY HILLS SANITORIUM, THE GHOST ADVENTUR CREW HAS BEEN HERE, THE GHOST HUNTERS, JUST TO NAME A FEW BIG GROUPS OF PARANORMAL EXPERTS. SO CHECK IT OUT IF YOU’RE EVER IN THE VILLE!!!   ;-)

  43. Lizanne says:

    Foamhedge is cool, but go on a dry day as the mud( which is the parking”lot”) is the stickiest mud ever… It will be on your shoes and in you car forever!

  44. Gary says:

    How about the Shoe House along Rt.30 in Central Pa.I( believe it is an Ice Cream Stand now.

  45. Traci says:

    While the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is #1 on our bucket list of roadside attractions to see, we just visited Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic City, NJ. She’s been around since the late 1800’s, and has survived multiple hurricanes!
    Our family of four purposely seeks out “world’s largests” when we travel, particularly roadside attractions like the world’s largest tooth, apple, kaleidoscope, bowling pin, shoe house, etc.
    — Traci from the “Go BIG or Go Home” blog

  46. Greg Marsh says:

    @John Gunther: I love those! My fave is the York barbell guy beside the highway between Baltimore and Harrisburg.

  47. Elva K. Österreich says:

    The world’s Largest pistachio is on U.S. 54/70 in southern New Mexico between the town of Tularosa and the city of Alamogordo.

  48. Jessica says:

    Check out the Big Blue Bug in Providence, RI. 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Blue_Bug
     

  49. Ron says:

    Kansas City – Plaza is fun to walk and shop (some unuaual stores) and you’ll enjoy streetside jazz in the summers.

    If it’s still there Smokehouse BarBQue restaurants on North Oak Trafficway and in Independence.  Great BBQ.

    See the JC Nichols fountain at the Plaza (47th and Main) at night. 

    Or the Giant Badminton Birdies on the lawn of the Nelson-Atkis art museum

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