Odd Roadside Attractions for Your Summer Road Trip
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What do the World’s largest ball of twine, an enchanted-forest theme park, and a hiking trail strung with dismembered doll parts have in common? They’re all unusual roadside attractions you could (and should) work into your next road trip!
Looking for a summer road trip to remember? One of these odd roadside attractions should do the trick. We have assembled a list of totally unique destinations.
Some of these attractions are free and some are ticketed. Some boast incredible natural beauty and others—well, they’re a little more on the quirky side. Remember to check your route on the Roadtrippers app to find unusual stops that may not pop up on Google Maps.
Before you hit the road to discover these unusual stops, use Jerry to make sure you’re not overpaying for car insurance. And double-check that you’ve signed up for Jerry’s roadside assistance membership so you have enough coverage for a roadside rescue if you get a flat in the desert.
Jerry’s roadside assistance includes lockout services, towing, and even uber credits, so you can get back to focusing on the towering highway-side plastic dinosaurs without missing a beat.
Let’s get into it!
- World’s Largest
- Outdoor adventures
- Unique architecture
- Giant dinosaurs
Is there anything more wondrous and mystifying (and American) than something 100x larger than it should be?
Thankfully, the USA is littered with these record-breaking objects. No matter which part of the country you are exploring, you can snap a photo with a “world’s largest” odd roadside attraction, whether it be a chest of drawers or a bug sculpture.
Indiana, World’s Largest Ball of Paint
In Alexandria, Indiana, you can marvel at the World’s Largest Ball of Paint.
It weighs 2.5 tons and is more than 14 feet across. The ball’s creator is Michael Carmichael, a rural entrepreneur who had the idea to cover a baseball with paint as a craft project with his young toddler back in 1977. Make an appointment if you want to help paint the ball. Admission is free.
Wyoming, World’s Largest Elk Horn Arch
In Afton, Wyoming near the Idaho border, you will be astonished to discover an arch made completely of elk antlers.
The arch was finished in 1958 and contains more than 3,000 sets of antlers. Animal lovers will be pleased to know that no animals were harmed in the construction of the arch. Elk shed their antlers annually and most were collected with a permit from the wilderness near Jackson.
On each sidewalk is a smaller arch made of antlers, which provides the perfect place to snap a souvenir photo of yourself with this odd roadside attraction.
Rhode Island, World’s Largest Bug
You might be relieved (or disappointed) to find out this is not a real bug.
But the “Big Blue Bug” in Providence, Rhode Island does claim the title of the World’s Largest Bug. This termite statue is 58 feet tall and made with fiberglass and steel.
It was built as an advertising stunt for the New England Pest Control company (now named Big Blue Bug Solutions), and it lives on the roof of the company headquarters.
Kansas, The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things
You have to give creativity points to this attraction’s curator, Erika Nelson. She travels the country looking for “the world’s largest” things, and then she photographs them and creates miniature versions of them.
Then, Nelson travels back to the original “world’s largest” and photographs her tiny version beside the real-life large version.
If you want to see a lot of “world’s largest” items in a miniature package (and in a single visit), then Lucas, Kansas is the perfect destination.
MORE: Car insurance in Kansas
Kansas, World’s Largest Ball of Twine
This free attraction is located in Cawker City, Kansas.
In 1953, Frank Stoeber started the ball of twine. After four years, it weighed more than 5,000 pounds. He then gifted it to Cawker City and local businesses started hanging up paintings of the ball in their front windows.
The city has taken the ball and run with it (pardon the pun). Sidewalks have twine stripes that lead to the enormous ball, and there is an annual “Twine-A-Thon” every August where residents and visitors can add to the ball. Call ahead to request an appointment for adding your own twine.
North Carolina, World’s Largest Chest of Drawers
In High Point, North Carolina, you might be startled to see a house-sized bureau with two gigantic socks dangling from a drawer 20 feet off the ground. It’s lit up at night so it’s still worth a stop even if you’re passing through after the sun goes down.
The original version of this odd roadside attraction was created to compete with a nearby town’s enormous chair attraction. Both towns had large furniture manufacturing industries, so High Point needed something to attract business.
The city embraced the bureau and added the design to a decanter, postcards, and souvenir items.
In the late 1990s, a new bureau was installed around the original bureau. Want to know a secret? The addition of the socks is an ode to High Point’s newest industry: hosiery.
When you’re cooped up in a car for hours at a time, it’s important to find opportunities to stretch your legs. These odd roadside attractions take you out into nature and reward you with quirky (or terrifying) art installations.
Georgia, Doll’s Head Trail
Yes, this roadside stop in Georgia is as unnerving as it sounds. If the idea of walking through on a forest trail with dismembered doll parts strung from trees and arranged on the forest floor freaks you out (in a bad way), steer clear of Doll’s Head Trail.
A local carpenter-turned-artist came up Doll’s Head Trail, a short hike through a wildlife refuge outside Atlanta where you can discover and create your own art using discarded doll parts.
Because it’s been reclaimed by nature for so many years, you can spot birds and plants here that are hard to find in most of the urban south. Search for Constitution Lakes Park to pull up the location.
This location is truly the real-life island of misfit toys (and birds and plants, apparently).
Montana, Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
In Arlee, Montana, there is a peaceful garden that will eventually have one thousand statues of Buddha.
Although it is founded by a Tibetan Buddhist master, the site is intended to be a peaceful site of worship for people of all faiths and it is completely free to visit. The outer path is intended for circular walking meditation to contemplate the cyclical nature of life.
Oregon, Enchanted Forest
This famous family-owned amusement park offers quirky outdoor attractions near Salem, Oregon.
Enjoy rides or walk through Storybook Lane and explore small fairytale houses. The Enchanted Forest was founded in the 1960s which becomes obvious when examining the buildings’ design style.
Guests of all ages will be enchanted by this odd roadside attraction. Make sure you bring a fully charged camera and set aside a few hours to explore.
Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico is brimming with UFO and extraterrestrial attractions.
Go to the Roswell Alien Attraction Autopsy where you can gawk at a glowing (supposedly radioactive) alien body that was rescued from a (supposed) UFO crash.
Peek into the International UFO Museum and then make up your own mind about extraterrestrial visits to Roswell. Before you go, pick up an “Alien Fuel” coffee mug or snag an “I’m a believer” shirt.
Roswell is in the middle of nowhere, so you’ll have to make a deliberate choice to explore this city. If you’re not big on fake exhibits, then you can always browse the (alien-inspired) murals and hit the (alien overlord-themed) doughnut shop instead.
Enchanted Forest, Oregon
California, Winchester Mystery House
An inherited fortune, mysterious deaths, and staircases that lead to nowhere—are only a few beats of the Winchester Mystery House’s history.
If you’re a horror fan, then this famous roadside stop in San Jose, California is definitely worth a visit. Parking is free for guests, but make sure you call ahead to book a scheduled tour.
Sarah Winchester, of the Winchester rifle fortune, supposedly built this house over the course of more than three decades to baffle wayward spirits.
We can’t speak for the spirits, but droves of tourists have consistently been baffled (and enchanted) by the mansion’s 160 rooms, 47 stairways, and 10,000 windows. Many of the stairways lead to dead ends and windows gaze into other rooms.
It hosted Harry Houdini in 1924, who christened it “The Mystery House.” Keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you as you explore this odd roadside attraction.
Massachusetts, The Paper House
Head to Rockport, Massachusetts to see this house is built entirely out of newspapers, from the furniture to the walls and doors.
Tinkerer Elis Stenman had an odd whim in 1922 to build his house out of newspaper. He suspected it would make good insulation, but why stop there?
Inside, you will discover more than 100,000 varnished newspapers glued together with a homemade glue recipe (apple peels are the secret ingredient).
There’s even a functional clock made entirely of paper. If you look closely, you can even make out the historic headlines in some of the newspapers.
There’s a suggested admission of $2 and the building is open during the warmer months in daylight hours.
South Dakota, World’s Only Corn Palace
Have you ever seen a building purely dedicated to corn? … No? Go to Mitchell, South Dakota and you’ll see what you’ve been missing.
Learn about the harvesting and decoration process, and explore corn murals from previous years. The Corn Palace was originally founded to highlight South Dakota’s excellent agriculture, and it now hosts thousands of visitors every year thanks to rotating folk art exhibits.
Illinois, Leaning Tower of Niles
Can’t make it to Italy? No problem, just head to Niles, Illinois and snap a photo of their half-size replica of the leaning tower of Pisa.
The tower was built in 1934 by an industrialist and it’s now a tourist attraction with an outdoor fountain and walking paths. It’s free to walk the grounds or enjoy a picnic.
Nevada, Area 15
Yes, you heard us right, 15—not 51 (although you might have a chance at gaining entry to the latter if you’re road-tripping from another galaxy).
Area 15 is an experiential art warehouse outside Las Vegas. Pay the entrance fee and find yourself in Wonderland. An immersive playground, sensory experiences, and hidden trap doors will surprise and delight you.
The kaleidoscopic colors and photo-friendly designs are definitely worth the admission fee. And parking is free!
Winchester Mystery House, California
For some reason, America is obsessed with giant roadside dinosaurs. You’re bound to run into them, no matter where your road trip takes you. Coast to coast, here’s where you can find them.
Arizona, Rainbow Rock Shop
In Holbrook, Arizona, you can buy colorful rocks and geodes from Adam Luna’s shop.
But more impressive are the towering concrete dinosaurs standing in his front yard. He does charge a small fee for the photo opportunity but this is an odd, worthwhile roadside attraction if you’re driving through the desert.
Kentucky, Dinosaur World
This open-air attraction is flush with life-size dinosaur replicas, interactive exhibits, and a gift shop with plenty of postcards and dino-themed souvenirs. You can even explore Dinosaur World with your canine companion in tow since this park is dog-friendly.
You’ll have to pay about $12 to get in, but there are so many funny photo opportunities to be had in this Jurassic Park-esque attraction that it is definitely worth the fee.
California, Cabazon Dinosaurs
California road-trippers should stop by Cabazon to marvel at the robotic dinosaurs and a fake “dino dig” with a sandbox. The current owners bought the property from the original dino-obsessed owner in the 1990s, and they plan to turn it into a dino-themed Creationism museum. It’s free to visit but you can pay $13 to climb inside the enormous T-Rex.
Virginia, Dinosaur Land
Virginia is for lovers—and dinosaurs, apparently.
Founded in 1963, this park in White Post boasts more than 50 dinosaur statues. You might even learn something about anatomy and paleontology at Dinosaur Land.
There are also cavemen, an enormous octopus, and a 14-foot praying mantis statue onsite. The original owner’s daughter runs the attraction now, and the admission fee is an affordable $8.
Dinosaur World, Kentucky
Before you head out
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How do you find fun stops on a road trip?
Atlas Obscura and the Roadtripper app are two excellent places to find fun stops and bizarre attractions.
These sources are free to use and they offer recommendations for food, natural parks, and other cultural landmarks.
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