10 of the coolest roadside attractions in the U.S.
Packing up the station wagon and hitting the open road stopping at tourist traps “Clark Griswold style” is basically a thing of the past. However, relics of classic Americana that linger on forgotten highways and back roads and can provide a great opportunity to take in the weird, the campy or just make for a cool new Facebook photo.
Photo credit: Donna Sullivan Thomson, Flickr
10 Martini Drinking Elephant – Fortville, Indiana
This giant pink elephant has been hanging out in Fortville, Indiana sipping on a martini in front of a liquor store since the early 1980s. With his black-rimmed glasses and martini glass he’s cool but doesn’t try to be cool, cuz that just wouldn’t be cool. Probably the only “hipster” elephant in the world, certainly Indiana, he’s a good reason to visit the Wagon Wheel liquor store if you happen to be passing through town. Or just need some crazy shit to stare at while trippin’ on shrooms.
9 Bigfoot Discovery Museum – Felton, California
Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, whatever you want to call it, this mythical creature has been the star of countless blurry photographs and home movies. What better way to get all the… err facts? … about this giant ape than from the experts. The museum houses all kinds of odd Bigfoot artifacts from photos and movies to plaster casts and a guide on “How to Spot a Hoax.” Hours and days of operations may vary, after all these “scientists” do have a giant ape to capture.
8 Jimmy Carter Peanut – Plains, Georgia
This 13-foot peanut sculpture pays tribute to our 39th President with its toothy grin and as a reminder of Carter’s peanut farming days. The statue was built in 1976 as a gift for the President on a campaign stop in Indiana; it now resides in Carter’s home state of Georgia. It may not have the monocle and top hat of Mr. Peanut, but has gotta be one of the weirdest presidential sculptures.
7 POPS Diner – Arcadia, Oklahoma
This classic Route 66 landmark is a reminder of simpler times. Most known for the iconic giant soda bottle, it stands 66 feet high and weighs over four tons. At night LED lights illuminate the bottle giving it a neon glow beckoning travelers to stop and sample one of the 500 varieties of soda found at the diner.
6 Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum – Jupiter, Florida
Yep, this museum is dedicated to all things Reynolds. Opened in 1979, this shrine to Burt Reynolds has the most extensive collection of memorabilia from over his 100 films to photographs from his childhood. His Emmy award, fan art, the canoe from Deliverance, it can all be found in the house of Smokey. The man himself, Burt, even drops by to teach acting classes from time to time at the museum’s film institute.
5 W’eel Turtle Sculpture- Dunseith, North Dakota
Erected in 1982, and made entirely of tire rims the world’s largest turtle sculpture is a bit of an odd sight on the North Dakota plains. Composed of over 2,000 tire rims, it was built by George Gottbreht as a way of drawing business to Dale’s Thrifty Barn, which stands right beside the giant metal reptile. The head weighs over one ton and is mounted on a pivot that bobs up and down, providing hours upon hours of entertainment.
4 UCM Museum – Abita Springs, Louisiana
Home of the Abita Mystery House this eccentric roadside attraction is the place for all things weird. A collection of folk art made from pieces of junk, an airstream trailer with a flying saucer sticking out of it, and “Buford, the bassigator” — half alligator, half bass, and totally strange. This is the place to hit up before losing your Mardi Gras beads in The Big Easy.
3 World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Darwin, Minnesota
Maybe not as exciting as the World’s Largest Frying Pan, but hey, it’s a big-ass ball of twine. One man, Francis A. Johnson set out with a dream and 29 years later that dream was complete and can now be seen at the Darwin Twine Ball Museum. Yep, there is a museum dedicated to a ball of twine. The ball is 13 foot in diameter and weighs an astonishing 17,400 lbs. Your friends will be so jealous when you show up with your twine ball souvenir t-shirt.
2 Gatorland – Orlando, Florida
Sure, Florida has sunny beaches and theme parks, but they’ve also got “Joe Dirt worthy”gator wrestling! Gatorland claims to be the “alligator capitol of the world”, and for over 50 years has been offering tourists up close access to these reptiles. Visitors have the opportunity to watch gator feedings, alligator wrestling, and get up close with the alligators. “Look ma, the gator just bit my hand off!”
1 Cadillac Ranch – Texas
If you find yourself cruising along Interstate 40 just outside of Amarillo, Texas you may be a bit surprised to see 10 Cadillacs sticking out of the ground. In 1974 a group of artists working under the name “Ant Farm”, placed the cars nose first in the ground at a slight angle and they’ve been drawing visitors ever since. The Caddys’ brightly covered in graffiti represent the various models of the car between 1949 and 1963. The retro art piece has popped up in everything from King of the Hill to a music video for Cage the Elephant.