The 33 Best Roadside Attractions in America
Here are all of the highway curiosities that are well worth the trip.
For those of us who spent our childhoods packed into the back of our parents’ station wagons driving from state to state, taking a road trip may seem like a less-than-attractive prospect. However, America’s cities and small towns are packed with some of the most interesting and Instagram-worthy roadside attractions you’ll find anywhere in the world. We’ve rounded up the biggest, most bizarre American roadside attractions from coast to coast; all that’s left for you to do is pack. And when you’re in the mood for some serious relaxation, chart your course for the 20 Most Zen Places on Earth.
Lucy the Elephant; Margate, NJ
The beachside town of Margate, New Jersey, is home to a surprising sight: a six-story elephant you can climb inside. Located in Josephine Harron Park, Lucy’s fame has earned her a spot on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks. Luckily, just because you’re road-tripping doesn’t mean your fitness goals have to fall by the wayside; the 50 Best American Cities for Runners make it easy to stay on track.
Cabazon Dinosaurs; Cabazon, CA
Located just outside Palm Springs in the town of Cabazon are two of the most-Instagrammed attractions in the United States. The Cabazon Dinosaurs, a pair comprised of a 150-foot-long brontosaurus and a 65-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex made out of concrete and steel, loom large over the landscape and can even be seen by passersby on the highway. And for the attractions to avoid, here are the Ugliest Statues in Every State.
Oregon Vortex; Gold Hill, OR
In the south Oregon town of Gold Hill, a strange spot dubbed the Oregon Vortex House of Mystery has become a must-see for those passing through. Famous for its supposed ability to cause items to roll uphill and create odd forced perspective that makes people seem taller or shorter than their actual height, the Oregon Vortex is well worth the trip.
Cadillac Ranch; Amarillo, TX
This outdoor sculpture installation in Amarillo, Texas, is a sight to see for art enthusiasts and classic car connoisseurs alike. In the desert, you’ll find a row of brightly-painted classic cars positioned nose-first into the sand, brightening the otherwise monochromatic landscape. And for more great road-trip inspiration, here are the 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive by Age 40.
Miles the Monster; Dover, DE
At the site of the Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE, lives a massive rock monster with flame red eyes. While the speedway is less-than-scenic, posing with this 46-foot-tall car-crushing behemoth guarantees massive Instagram likes. And if you’re flying to Delaware, here’s the One Thing You Shouldn’t Do with Your Boarding Pass.
Holy Land USA; Waterbury, CT
Although it’s been closed for more than 30 years, the ruins of Christian theme park Holy Land USA are a must-see for anyone passing through Waterbury, Connecticut. Even if you’re not feeling up for the light trespassing required to gain access to the park, the Holy Land sign and massive 50-foot stainless steel cross are easily photographed from the road below. And for more great advice, here are 20 Ways to Make Travel Less Stressful.
Bishop Castle; Rye, CO
While most private homes wouldn’t be considered roadside attractions, Bishop Castle in Rye, Colorado is a rare exception. Owned by Rye native Jim Bishop, this wood-and-stone castle has been continually built upon since 1969, when Jim first started constructing the house at the age of 15.
Jolly Green Giant; Blue Earth, MN
If you want to inspire some love for healthy foods in your kids, one trip to Blue Earth, Minnesota should do it. This Minnesota town is home to the Jolly Green Giant statue, a roadside reminder of the importance of getting plenty of greens.
Official Center of the World; Felicity, CA
While many people are eager to dispute what exists at the center of the world, Felicity, California is happy to provide you a concrete answer. Apparently, it’s a stone pyramid in the Sonoran Desert.
House on the Rock; Spring Green, WI
This Wisconsin attraction’s name is an accurate description of what you’ll find when you visit: a massive home atop a rock face. Building at the site, which began in 1945, has yielded a number of indoor attractions, as well, including a horseless carousel, collection of chandeliers, and the so-called Infinity Room, which protrudes 218 past the building’s base.
Enchanted Highway; Regent, ND
Enjoy some of the country’s best roadside attractions without ever leaving your car by taking a trip down the Enchanted Highway in North Dakota. This 32-mile stretch of highway is lined with scrap metal sculptures depicting everything from flying birds to massive pheasants looking out over the plains.
Clown Motel; Tonopah, NV
Whether you love clowns of have a healthy fear of them, the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada is well worth visiting. Famed for both its terrifying sign and its clown-themed interior, this motel has an equally spooky neighbor: an abandoned graveyard.
The Farnham Fantasy Farm; Unger, WV
If you want to look dainty in your Instagram photos, there’s no better place to pose than The Farnham Fantasy Farm in Unger, West Virginia. This roadside attraction is home to a collection of massive statues of men, from Santa Claus to surfers, in addition to one solo bikini-clad gal.
Carhenge; Alliance, NE
The UK has Stonehenge; America has Carhenge. This attraction outside Alliance, Nebraska, replicates the famed stone sculpture, using junked cars in the place of the prehistoric stones.
UFO Welcome Center; Bowman, SC
If aliens actually exist, they’ll feel plenty welcome if they happen to visit Bowman, South Carolina. This southern town is home to the UFO Welcome Center, a UFO replica and scrap metal fence extending a message of friendship to our outer space brethren.
Hat ‘N’ Boots; Seattle, WA
10-gallon hats and cowboy boots are traditionally western attire, but it might surprise some to find a monument to these cowboy clothes in Seattle. Originally built in the 1950s as part of a gas station, Hat ‘N’ Boots has withstood the test of time, with a restoration project completed in 2010.
Hood Milk Bottle; Boston, MA
Boston isn’t all historical landmarks; in fact, this New England city is home to one of the silliest pieces of roadside Americana out there: The Hood Milk Bottle. This massive bottle of milk looms large over Congress Street, attracting countless visitors each year.
World’s Largest Fish Statue; Hayward, WI
Outside the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame is one of the world’s most recognizable ocean-dwellers. Before you enter the Hall of Fame, you’ll encounter the biggest fish statue in the world, an open-mouthed muskie that stands a staggering four stories tall.
Biosphere 2; Oracle, AZ
If you find yourself passing through Oracle, Arizona, make sure to check out Biosphere 2. This University of Arizona-owned research facility is a stunning mixture of glass-encased pyramids, domes, and observatories resembling the set of a sci-fi movie.
World’s Largest Garden Gnome; Kerhonkson, NY
In the small town of Kerhonkson, New York, you’ll find one massive resident. This upstate enclave is home to the world’s largest garden gnome, Gnome Chomsky, who stands 13.5 feet tall, his red hat rising over the area’s rolling green hills. Before you book your trip to Kerhonkson or Kalamazoo, make sure it’s not on our list of the 30 Major City Names You May be Pronouncing All Wrong.
Hole N’ the Rock; Moab, Utah
In the Moab Desert is one of Utah’s most curious attractions. Dubbed Hole N’ the Rock, this desert icon is comprised of a 5,000-square foot home carved into a rock face, a zoo, art exhibits, general store, and a memorial to the home’s builders, Albert and Gladys Christensen.
Garden of a Thousand Buddhas; Arlee, MT
If you’re looking to get in touch with your spiritual side, make a pilgrimage to the Garden of a Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana. A bucolic paradise in the hilly Montana countryside, this lush garden and its thousand stone sculptures are sure to send some serenity your way.
Secret Caverns; Howes Cave, NY
Just to the west of Albany, New York is one of the Capital Region’s most-hyped sights. In addition to popular spelunking spot Howe Caverns, the town of Howes Cave is also home to the Secret Caverns, which contains a 100-foot waterfall and is famous for the hand-painted signs leading to the landmark from all directions.
Christ of the Ozarks; Eureka Springs, AR
If you find yourself in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, you might just see a familiar face. Rising 66 feet over this small city is the Christ of the Ozarks, a massive statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched that is, without a doubt, the area’s most-Instagrammed attraction.
Foamhenge; Natural Bridge, VA
Even if you don’t have time to visit Bath, you can visit the next best thing right in the United States. Natural Bridge, Virginia is home to Foamhenge, a foam replica of the famed prehistoric site, built by artist Mark Cline in 2004.
Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies; Vantage, WA
Drive through Vantage, Washington and you might find yourself in the presence of a surprising sight: more than a dozen metal horses riding along a hillside. Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies consists of 15 life-size steel horses made by artist David Govedare that were installed on the hillside in 1990. And before you plan your next adventure, make sure you have these travel hacks committed to memory before you hit the road.
Igloo City; Cantwell, AK
Initially intended for use as a hotel, Cantwell, Alaska’s Igloo City has become the town’s most perplexing attraction. While it never opened for business, the concrete igloo and its colorful sign remain to this day.
The Mystery Hole; Ansted, WV
Similar to the Oregon Vortex, the Mystery Hole promises plenty of natural wonder and kind of delivers. Objects seem to roll in the opposite direction of gravity, water flows uphill, and there are plenty of optical illusions worth taking a snapshot of, too.
World’s Largest Ball of Twine; Cawker City, KS
If you just can’t get enough of thin, itchy rope, make a pilgrimage to Cawker City, Kansas. This city is home to the world’s largest ball of twine, which has become a participatory event; each year, locals and visitors make it even bigger.
The Beer Can House; Houston, TX
Beer connoisseurs who need a break from boring brewery tours would be wise to check out the Beer Can House in Houston, Texas. This home is adorned with a staggering 50,000 beer cans, which are used to line the roof and walls. Crushed cans are even used as decoration, with garlands of can tops swinging from the home’s exterior.
World’s Largest Teapot; Chester, WV
Tea kettles may not be staples in most American homes, but the country is home to the biggest one you’ll find anywhere. Originally built from a former concession stand in 1938, this 12-foot-tall, 44-foot-wide teapot now calls a field in Chester, West Virginia home.
Georgia Guidestones; Elberton, GA
For 37 years, Elbert County, Georgia has been home to the Georgia Guidestones, a roadside attraction that regularly draws visitors from around the globe. Comprised of six pieces of granite bearing 10 guidelines for living, this strange monument is worth going off the beaten path for.
The Thing; Dragoon, AZ
Long before you arrive in Dragoon, Arizona, you’ll see signs along the highway alerting you to the presence of The Thing. This roadside attraction, made up of striped metal sheds, is actually home to a number of truly strange items. This includes a Rolls-Royce the attraction’s owners claim was once ridden by Adolf Hitler, as well as a mummified mother and child. And the next time you hit the road, make sure you’ve committed these 15 Ways to Be a Better House Guest to memory.
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