Road trips are one of the most iconic must-have experiences in America. If you haven’t gone on one yet, put it on your bucket list. There’s nothing like driving across the country, visiting the wonderfully different towns and people this nation has to offer.
And one of the best parts about road trips is seeing all the quirky and interesting oddities that only driving around the country can provide. This is a list of all those wonderful and strange roadside attractions that remind you how much personality America really has.
Scottsboro, Alabama: Unclaimed Baggage Center
All those bags that go unclaimed at the airport? Well, many of them end up in Scottsboro, Alabama at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. The “store” spans more than an entire city block and allows visitors to buy anything they find.
Just so you know, this is the only shop of its type in the country. And as you can imagine, the Unclaimed Baggage Center gets some serious traffic, which reaches more than a million visitors every year. So if you’re wondering where suitcase with your now outdated clothes and your favorite Walkman went from your trip back in 1997, maybe it ended up here.
North Pole, Alaska: The World’s Largest Santa
You won’t be driving past Santa’s workshop in North Pole, Alaska, but that doesn’t mean that the people of Alaska don’t have Christmas spirit. Some might say they actually have the biggest Christmas spirit.
Why? Maybe it’s because of the 900-pound statue of Santa Claus that sits as the mascot for the Santa Claus House. Believe it or not, it’s the biggest Santa Claus in the world, which really put this otherwise tiny town of 2,000 people on the map.
Texas, Canyon, Arizona: The Thing
As if the name “The Thing” doesn’t pique your interest enough, maybe the fact that there are over 200 billboards advertising this sight will lure you in. After paying a fee of $1 to enter, visitors embark on a “journey” through many things in the hopes of discovering the mystery of what The Thing really is.
Look, I haven’t personally been to “The Thing” yet, but I’m even if the place isn’t much of an experience, the mysticism around the place is enough to make me want to check it off my list. I mean come on, look at the place.
Berryville, Arkansas: Snake World
If you have a fear of snakes, but your friends, siblings, or parents, or whoever’s in the car with you wants to stop here to check it out, you’re going to have to suck it up. Hey, what better way to overcome your fear of this commonly feared creature than a trip to Berryville, Arkansas’ Snake World?
Snake World gives you the experience of everything snakes (duh), and you can learn a great deal about the simultaneously terrifying and cool reptiles. And if you’re feeling up to it (or if you lost a dare), you can hold one, too. Again; it’s all about that bucket list, people.
Imperial County, California: Salvation Mountain
Sitting in California’s Colorado Desert, 3.2 miles northeast of Niland, 11 miles north of Calipatria, and 54.8 miles from the Salton Sea (to be exact) is Salvation Mountain, the final product of one man’s lifelong attempt to spread the message of universal love.
The 50 foot-tall hill slap dab in the middle-of-nowhere had over 100,000 gallons of paint dumped on it. Well rather than dumping paint on it, it was artistically illustrated in the form of biblical messages by artist Leonard Knight. Salvation Mountain was Knight’s 30-year passion project that has since become a hugely popular road trip stop.
Hooper, Colorado: UFO Watchtower
Whether you’re a believer in UFOs or not, the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado is definitely an experience. The watchtower has a 360-degree view of the San Luis Valley, and it was created by Judy Messoline in May 2000. Her purpose? To capitalize on the already existing use of the property by UFO observers.
Messoline believes that she lives in the center of some real alien activity, and figured a watchtower is just the thing people need. The ranch also includes a campground for those who want to spend the night at and hopefully witness some otherworldly encounters of their own.
New Haven, Connecticut: Cushing Brain Collection
When’s the last time you had the chance to check out a bunch of diseased brains? If it’s been too long and you want a refresher, the next time you’re traveling through New Haven, Connecticut, make a trip to Yale’s Medical School Library.
What’s in all those jars? Brains. That’s right. Let’s just say that tumors and diseases have wreaked havoc on all of them and it’s the interest in studying them further that landed them here for this collection. Science, huh?
Dover, Delaware: Miles the Monster
The Dover International Speedway is known for being a racetrack that has some pretty challenging conditions for its drivers, hence the nickname “The Monster Mile.” And a name like that couldn’t come without a mascot, which is where this big guy comes in.
Towering above everything outside of the racetrack, Miles has a viciously tight grasp on a race-car that looks like it’s about to be smashed to pieces on the ground. This friendly giant can be seen a half-mile away, from Hwy 1.
Seffner, Florida: Airstream Ranch
Apparently, this is an attempt to resemble the famous Stonehenge in England. But this American version of the mysterious formation requires a bit of imagination. What you see are eight Airstream trailers that have been stuck into the ground.
Airstream Ranch sits somewhere along I-4 between Tampa and Florida. It’s one of those artistic statements that make for great photo ops. So if you’re traveling along the I-4, make a stop here and post a memorable Instagram pic for all your friends to wonder where the hell you were.
Elberton, Georgia: Georgia Guidestones
This biblical looking monument is made of granite stones that share post-apocalyptic messages with travelers of the area. The messages are written in eight different languages. The artist, Robert C. Christian, meant for them to “be Guidestones to an Age of Reason.”
Words on these stones include messages like: “Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.” The Georgia Guidestones were unveiled on March 22, 1980, and they’ve been reeling in a steady crowd of visitors ever since.
Wahiawa, Hawaii: The World’s Longest Plant Maze
Is anyone else reminded of ‘The Shining?’ No? Just me? Okay. So anyway, this much more appealing labyrinth spans over three acres, and it’s located at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, Hawaii. It also takes the record for being the longest plant maze in the world.
There are over two miles of paths that take you through some beautiful local fauna and flora, making the journey through the maze a sight to see as well as an experience. Oh, and if you’re able to make your way to the end (alive… just kidding), you get to write your name in the record book.
Cottonwood, Idaho: The World’s Biggest Beagle
If you want to see the world’s biggest beagle, then you’re in for a treat. But if you think it’s a living and breathing animal, then you’re in for a disappointment. Cottonwood, Idaho’s Dog Bark Park Inn features a 27-foot tall beagle.
Apart from being the largest beagle in the world, it’s also the most eccentric place you’ll ever sleep in. Travelers can sleep in the belly of the gentle beast, which provides a single room that’s connected to a park that has a strange dog “art,” which was created by a chainsaw artist.
Collinsville, Illinois: The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle
That’s right; in this part of the country, it’s called “catsup,” not “ketchup.” Head over to Collinsville, Illinois to get a glimpse of the largest catsup bottle in the world. It stands tall at 70 feet, with the ability to hold up to 640,000 standard-sized bottles.
But it doesn’t actually store catsup bottles; it holds 100,000 gallons of water instead. The site also holds the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival which involves a hula hoop contest, car show, live music, and of course, lots and lots (and simply just too much) catsup.
Alexandria, Indiana: World’s Largest Ball of Paint
Why? Good question. As the story goes: over 40 years ago, a father let his son paint a baseball. Over the years, he decided to keep adding layers to the painted ball. Next thing he knows, the baseball had thousands of coats of paint, and as no surprise, it holds the record for the largest ball of paint in the world.
Yes, this is as random as it gets. But look at the thing! If you find yourself near Alexandria, Indiana, you can go and see the thing with your own eyes. Apparently, you can also add to the creation by adding a paint layer of your own.
Britt, Iowa: The Hobo Museum
The Hobo Museum has been open to the public for 40 years, acting as a sort of time machine where you can go back in time to the days of hobos and their ritual train hopping. Although there is a small community of hobos that still exist today, this museum conserves the heyday of these people.
Once a movie theatre, the Hobo Museum is now packed with artifacts from hobo crafts, to videos, to doll collections, and everything in between. This place holds the legacy of the notorious hobo culture. There’s no way this museum isn’t interesting. And trust me, I’m no fan of museums.
Lucas, Kansas: The World’s Largest Collection of the Smallest Versions of the Largest Things
This roadside attraction comes in the form of a bus. And I gotta say, I love the title of this mobile museum. Erika Nelson, the creator of this roadside find, has a knack for finding stuff that holds the title of “World’ Largest” and then creating a tiny replica of them.
She ended up making her own collection of the “World’s Largest” of the smallest things. And apparently, she’s got everything you could even think of. So, before you say “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” pass through the town of Lucas and see Nelson’s place.
Calvert City, Kentucky: Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland
Kentucky’s Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland are exactly what you would expect from a whimsical folk art garden that has too many quirky constructions and off art pieces. Whoever chooses to wander around the garden will find intriguing treasures waiting to be discovered.
In the 1920s, a man by the name of Grandpa Oral Wallace bought what used to be an apple orchard and turned it into an active business. It was decades later that his grandson Keith Holt returned to the family plot and transformed it into the eccentric art oasis that it is today.
New Orleans, Louisiana: Nicolas Cage’s Tomb
Though he doesn’t seem to be on his death bed anytime soon, Nicholas Cage wants to be prepared for when the day comes. And so he already picked out his burial plot. And if that isn’t strange enough, it looks like he picked a plot that could easily be in one of his movies.
The tomb looks like it was taken from the set of one of his ‘National Treasure’ movies. Cage’s 10-foot tall pyramid tomb features the phrase “Omnia Ab Uno,” which translates to “Everything From One.” Who knew the actor was so…spiritual.
Portland, Maine: International Cryptozoology Museum
If want to add some weird to your road trip, head to this place. This one’s for the fans of Yeti, Bigfoot, Nessie, or any other “cryptids.” The International Cryptozoology Museum has all kinds of artifacts from these mystical creatures which have been collected by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman.
And by “artifacts,” she means cryptid hair samples, fecal matter, footprint casts, and a lot more where that came from. Coleman isn’t concerned with whether or not you believe in creatures like Sasquatch, but rather whether you’re able to consider their existence with an open mind. Well, …are you?
Baltimore, Maryland: Ouija Board Headstone
Your favorite childhood sleepover game just got more real. The board game serves as the actual headstone of Elijah Bond, the man who first patented the Ouija Board. Though his family didn’t erect the tombstone, a true die-hard fan did.
He tracked down Bond’s unmarked grave and gave him the recognition that he thinks he deserves. Supposedly, it took this fan 15 years to find the correct grave. The headstone was brought to life (pun intended) by volunteers and donations.
Salem, Massachusetts: The Witch House of Salem
For anyone that actually listened in history class, you’ll be thankful when you end up in Salem, Massachusetts and see the only structure still standing that has direct ties to the Salem witch trials of 1692. The house alone makes you feel like you’re in that century.
The home belonged to Judge Jonathan Corwin during the trials, but now it’s a museum that pays homage to the 17th century, also referred to one of America’s strangest times. For the full experience, visit the house on Halloween.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: All the Fairy Doors
If you find yourself wandering around the streets of Ann Arbor, keep your eyes out for all these adorable and magical tiny doors, which by the way are the perfect size for fairies. These fairy doors are spread throughout Ann Arbor.
It all started in the home of Jonathan Wright, who decided to, during a renovation, install tiny doors for the sake of his kids. Seeing how much his kids absolutely loved them, he decided to install some more tiny doors around the city. Over the next 15 years, they keep popping up. Fun fact: some of the little doors have surprises inside if you open the door!
Austin, Minnesota: Spam Museum
This has nothing to do with the spam that we now are all familiar with in the digital world. This is the original spam – the canned meat. And whether you like the product or not, you’ll appreciate the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota.
The place has interactive exhibits that take you back to the early days of SPAM. Here’s a fun fact: the museum’s employees are called SPAMbassadors. You’ll definitely walk out with a can of SPAM — probably not to eat, but as a souvenir.
Leland, Mississippi: Birthplace of Kermit, the Frog
Any fan of the Muppets will appreciate this place. The idea of Kermit the Frog came to life in Leland, Mississippi, the part of the country where Jim Henson grew up. It was from the local swamps that Henson got his inspiration for everyone’s favorite green talking frog.
The museum houses all things Kermit, and you can learn about the little guy’s heritage as well as his fellow Muppet friends. I would say even if you’re not a fan of Kermit, you’ll like the place, but who isn’t a fan of the Muppets?
Weldon Spring, Missouri: Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail
Have you ever wondered what they do with the leftovers from the biggest explosives factory in America? They turn them into a mountain of nuclear waste that people can come to visit. The Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail is 54-acres and 1.48 million cubic yards wide.
Underneath the surface sits remnants of mercury, asbestos, TNT, radium, radioactive uranium, and more unsettling stuff. Once the nuclear processing plant closed in 1966, the remains have been untouched for over 20 years. But then they built this mountain and trail and thus a new roadside attraction was made.
Butte, Montana: The Berkeley Pit
Since we’re already on the subject of nuclear waste, you might also want to check out the biggest Superfund site in the U.S. — the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. What was once a copper mine has become a giant pit and cesspool of mining waste.
In the water are copper, zinc, arsenic and other stuff that you don’t want to swim in. The water is highly toxic. While most living things don’t exist in the water, there are some bacteria that have managed to live in this toxic pit. If you stop to take a pit, just make sure not to fall in.
Boys Town, Nebraska: The World’s Largest Ball of Stamps
If you think your grandfather had an impressive stamp collection, you haven’t seen anything yet. In none other than a town called Boys Town, Nebraska, lies the largest stamp collection in the world.
Close to 5 million stamps cover this gigantic ball that weighs 600 lbs and measures 32 inches across. Honestly, I don’t know what else you’ll want to do other than stare at this ball when you’re visiting. But you can probably find a Denny’s nearby and make it an afternoon.
Las Vegas, Nevada: Seven Magic Mountains
Maybe on the way to or from the Las Vegas strip, you can stop by and see the Seven Magic Mountains, a strangely beautiful art installation in the middle of the desert. An artist decided to paint large rocks, fluorescent colors and stack them on top of each other.
You can imagine how this place easily became a popular Instagram photo spot. The bright colors against the dry, dull colors of the desert is really a sight worth seeing. And from far, they look like giant pieces of candy. And who doesn’t like candy?
Salem, New Hampshire: America’s Stonehenge
Something of a modern mystery, America’s version of the famous Stonehenge is a collection of stones that have been formed into something that resembles a house-like structure. This Stonehenge even features some underground rooms.
The mystery is who actually built this thing? The truth is the only similarity between this and real Stonehenge is that they’re both built out of stone. Either way, these are the things that are fun to see with your own eyes.
Margate City, New Jersey: Lucy the Elephant
This isn’t just any old elephant (although all elephants are amazing). Lucy, the Elephant, is special because she’s not real. She is, however, the world’s largest fake elephant made of tin and wood. She’s over 130 years old, weighing 90 tons and reaching a size of 65 feet.
Jus the size is noteworthy. But what makes it more than just something to look at is that you can actually go inside Lucy. A spiral staircase takes you inside and up into the elephant where you’ll find a museum.
Route 66, New Mexico: The Musical Highway
Your drive across the country just got a soundtrack added to it. On Route 66 in New Mexico, you’ll find yourself driving along the Musical Highway. Those who don’t know about this secret will drive on without experiencing the music of the road.
But for those who know about this can hear the song “America the Beautiful” if they drive along the right part of the road. You need to drive over the rumble strips near Tijeras, and the tires of your car will “sing” America’s favorite song. Oh, and by the way, you have to drive exactly at the speed limit to hear the song properly. Safety first, kids.
LeRoy, New York: The Jell-O Gallery and Museum
LeRoy, New York is the birthplace of JELL-O which dates all the way back to 1897. If you’re in New York, and you want to pay homage to your favorite childhood treat, this is how to do it. The gallery has on display all kinds of art, including 20 original JELL-O oil paintings from the 1920s.
You can also learn all kinds of facts about JELL-O, including why the inventor of the jiggling dessert sold the rights for a measly $450. Talk about a bad move, huh? He for sure regretted that business move.
High Point, North Carolina: The World’s Largest Chest Of Drawers
Most people don’t know that High Point, North Carolina is the Furniture Capital of the World. What does that even mean? Well, it means that they turn their buildings into pieces of furniture. Look at this building, for example.
The town of High Point has a 36-foot tall dresser. And it’s not just any old giant chest of drawers; it’s the largest in the whole world. You can even find two giant socks just dangling out of the drawer. Like one messy husband left them there.
Regent, North Dakota: Enchanted Highway
Just when you think you can’t get more into the middle of anywhere than driving down a desolate stretch of North Dakota highway, you’ll find yourself on the Enchanted Highway. The road has a collection of massive metal sculptures from deer to geese to grasshoppers.
Artist Gary Greff wanted to spice up the boring as hell drive towards Regent, North Dakota. If nothing else, you’ll at least be amused by the effort that Gary put into making this drive something to remember. Thanks, Gary, we appreciate it.
Cleveland, Ohio: A Christmas Story House
Remember little Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story?’ I don’t. But apparently, it was a big hit. The iconic holiday movie was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio and the original house where Ralphie learned to always drink his Ovaltine is still there.
The same house is a spot that you can actually visit. And you’re allowed to go inside to see the famous leg lamp in the window, Ralphie’s Red Ryder BB gun, and other memorable pieces from the famous home.
Foyil, Oklahoma: Totem Pole Park
Eighty years ago, Oklahoma native and artist Ed Galloway constructed the first totem pole. Ten totem poles later, this place has become a hotspot for travelers from all around the country and beyond.
One of the totem poles at the park holds the record for the world’s largest concrete totem pole, standing at a massive 90 feet. The public folk art garden and park spans 14 acres and offers a new way to appreciate art.
Portland, Oregon: The World’s Smallest Park
Leave it to Portland to keep things quirky. In true ‘Portlandia’ style, the city has turned a tiny patch of soil in the middle of the road into what has been deemed the world’s smallest park. Yes, it’s officially been listed as a park with the city.
What started out as a joke about spotting leprechauns eventually turned into the creation of Mills End Park. But don’t take your dog for a walk there; he might ruin the entire thing, and also there’s nowhere for him to run free.
Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania: Ringing Rocks Park
Situated in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, is Ringing Rocks Park, a place that may seem like some ordinary rocks. But there’s more to those rocks than meets the eye; they’re also musical instruments.
When struck, the rocks chime like a bell. But the catch is you have to bring your own hammer and more than that – you have to figure out which rocks make the bell effect. So it’s a trial and error game that can either motivate you or drive you crazy.
North Kingstown, Rhode Island: Fighting Seabee Statue
Have you ever seen a giant Seabee? I sure haven’t. But you’ll definitely see one when passing through North Kingstown, Rhode Island, as it’s pretty hard not to see it. The giant Seabee statue is the mascot of the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion
Why a Seabee? Because of the division’s abbreviated name CB. Watch out, though, because this is one angry bee. If you have kids with you, they might get just a little bit frightened.
Gaffney, South Carolina: Peachoid
This 135-foot peach-shaped water tower was just another roadside attraction that looked like a big butt, which made people want to stop to take a photo. But then the hit Netflix series ‘House of Cards’ came along and now it has celebrity status.
In the show, this water tower was the subject of a legal battle between Frank Underwood and one of his constituents. Its 15 minutes of fame made it even more of a memorable road trip stop.
Wall, South Dakota: Wall Drug Store
Some consider this place the most famous roadside attraction in America. Whether you agree or not, you’ll want to stop by this one-of-a-kind drugstore. Why? Because while part of it is indeed a traditional pharmacy, there’s also a shopping mall and a taxidermist.
So if you’re looking for a prescription and a stuffed rabbit, this is your one-stop-shop. Add some clothes to your shopping cart, and you can call it a day. Whatever your interest, you won’t leave Wall Drug empty-handed.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee: Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum
You probably thought your great aunt was the only one who collected salt and pepper shakers, huh? Wrong! There’s more to collecting these little kitchen table staples than you think. Great Aunt Melda’s collection only scratches the surface of what Gatlinburg, Tennessee has to offer.
The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum lets you check out over 20,000 salt and pepper sets that come in all shapes and sizes. You also won’t be surprised to learn that this is the only salt and pepper shaker museum in America.
Valentine, Texas: Prada Marfa Store
You can expect to find a Prada store on LA’s Rodeo Drive, but you certainly don’t expect to see one in Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas. To be exact, it’s in Valentine, Texas, and it’s also not your typical Prada store.
German artists Elmgreen and Dragset created the art installation in 2005, thinking it would eventually decay and return to its roots in the ground. The “store’s” merchandise isn’t something you’ll want to buy — all the shoes are right-footed, and all the bags are all bottomless.
Moab, Utah: Hole N the Rock
With a name like this, you can imagine what the story is behind this place. When you make your way to Moab, Utah, you’ll discover this 14-room cave-house and its gift shop that’s been carved into a massive rock.
Hole N the Rock has welcomed travelers for over 70 years. It also features a small zoo along with some Native American pottery and the largest collection of metal sculptures by artist Lyle Nichols.
Waterbury, Vermont: Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
Ever thought about all the Ben and Jerry’s flavors? Some were experiments and didn’t actually get produced and marketed. So where did they go? Well, you might be happy to know that they didn’t go to waste. In fact, they’re being honored.
The Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard sits in Waterbury, Vermont and includes flavors like Makin’ Whoopie Pie, Holy Cannoli, and other flavors that never made it onto the shelf.
Centreville, Virginia: Foamhenge
It looks like a lot of states are fascinated with the original Stonehenge, and want to make it epic in their own American way. Centreville, Virginia, holds another take on Stonehenge, but this one is made entirely of Styrofoam.
As close to a replica of England’s Stonehenge as we’ve seen, you can certainly fool some friends by snapping photos here. It’s hard to tell via a camera that these are not actually stones, but foam. Be sure you check out when viewing is available — we hear it’s only seasonal.
Seattle, Washington: Seattle Gum Wall
This is, by far, a popular Instagram photo background. The gum wall in Seattle is considered to be a work of art, as gross as it may be when you think about it. It’s just a collection of already chewed gum that was taken to epic proportions.
You can come here to snap a photo, but whatever you do, don’t lean against the wall. It’s also a major cesspool of saliva and germs. Gross. You can add to the collection, by the way, so come with a pack of gum.
Unger, West Virginia: Land Of Giants
If you think your neighbor’s lawn decor is over the top, take a look at Pam and George Franham’s place in Unger, West Virginia. The couple was frustrated that city apartments didn’t have enough space to properly display their huge action figure collection. So what did they do?
The Franhams moved to Unger to be able to decorate their lawn with massive statues. And getting the statues there wasn’t easy or cheap. Their Muffler Man statue cost three times more to ship than it did to actually buy it.
Neillsville, Wisconsin: The World’s Largest Talking Cow
Here’s another “world’s largest” that you can stop to see on your road trip. Chatty Belle in Neillsville, Wisconsin, is the biggest talking cow in the world. And it’s massive. It was originally built for the World’s Fair in Neillsville.
Chatty Belle has become the town’s icon. She used to say fun facts about Wisconsin’s famous dairy industry, but in recent years she lost her voice, and now it’s just a giant cow statue.
Medicine Bow, Wyoming: Fossil Cabin
This Wyoming cabin dates back to 1932, which was built from real dinosaur bones found at Como Bluff. It’s actually the only building in America to be constructed from fossilized dinosaur bones.
It has about 6,000 bones and weighs over 102,000 lbs. Fossil Cabin wasn’t easy to create, as you can imagine. It’s not made entirely of dinosaur bones, but they certainly make up a large part of this house.