If you’ve got plans to make a long drive across the States for an upcoming vacation, you might find yourself driving by some of the quirkiest attractions of the US. Since you need to stop for breaks anyways, why not schedule in a little extra time at one of these fun roadside attractions? Google Maps might give you the fastest route to your destination, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most fun. Plus, any bored and impatient younger passengers that may be along for the ride will appreciate the extra breaks along the way.
Location: Along Highway 87, north of Alliance, Nebraska
Nebraska’s “reply to Stonehenge.” Here, a replica of the famous English alignment of stones has been made with 39 cars. Sculptor Jim Reinders made the attraction, after studying the real Stonehenge in England and as a memorial to his father, who lived where the cars now stand. Additional car sculptures have been erected at the site known as well, known as the Car Art Reserve, and in 2007, a visitor center, “The Pit Stop,” opened up.
Location: Off I-10 in Cabazon, California
These beloved roadside dinos gained popularity after being featured in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure and The Wizard. Mr. Rex, Dinny, and more than 70 other dinosaurs can be found along this attraction’s dinosaur walk, complete with a dino dig and fossil panning activities.
Location: Off I-95 at the North Carolina/South Carolina border
South of the Border is a classic roadside attraction, begun in 1949 by Alan Schafer with the building of the Border Beer Depot. Business boomed, and years later a grill, gas station, and motel were added. Mexican trinkets and souvenirs were made available as the name was shortened from “South of the (South Carolina) Border” to “South of the Border.” Today, visitors can spend the day at Pedroland amusement park, see the largest indoor reptile display at reptile lagoon, climb up to the top of the Sombrero Observation Tower, and dine in at several restaurants.
Location: Off I-90 in Mitchell, South Dakota
Like corn? Well, then, this is the place for you. In 1892, the World’s Only Corn Palace was established on the Mitchell’s Main Street as a gathering place where residents and their rural neighbors could enjoy a fall festival and celebrate the crop-growing season and harvest. While the palace has been rebuilt over the years (each one bigger than the original) the Corn Palace Festival is still held annually in August. But the Corn Palace is more than just a festival gathering place. Today, it hosts stage shows, industrial exhibits, meetings, school graduations, and even basketball tournaments. The Palace is also redecorated each year with naturally-colored corn and other grains and native grasses; these murals are created to reflect a unique theme chosen for that year.
Location: Natural Bridge, Virginia
Not far off of I-81 is a truly unique attraction built by artist Mark Cline. The roadside museum consists of several statues depicting an alt-history version of the Civil War where the Union Army has lost to… dinosaurs. The trouble for the Yankees begins when a mad scientist travels back in time to give Stonewall Jackson a robotic arm, and cannon blasts awaken hibernating dinosaurs in the nearby Natural Bridge caverns. Visitors make their way through several statues along with signs detailing the curious tale of dinos-as-weapons-of-mass-destruction. Truly, there’s nothing else like it.
Location: Along Highway 191 in Moab, Utah
Carved into a huge rock in Canyonlands County, Utah, Hole N’ The Rock is a 5,000 square foot historic home complete with an exotic animals zoo and Lyle Nichols sculpture exhibit. In the mid 20th century over a 12 year period, Albert Christensen excavated 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone from the rock after originally intending to just build a “small alcove” for the Christensen boys to sleep in at night. After Albert’s death, his wife Gladys continued to develop the property. The house features a fireplace with a 65-foot chimney, 14 rooms arranged around huge pillars, a deep bathtub built into the rock, original paintings by Albert’s paintings (such as “Sermon on the Mount”), his wife Gladys’s doll collection, and many of the tools used to create this home.
Location: On Atlantic Avenue in Margate, New Jersey
Known as “The World’s Greatest Elephant,” this iconic waterfront landmark was built in 1881 as Elephant Bazaar, a spectacle meant to attract potential real estate investors to the area. Over the course of Lucy’s life, she’s been a tavern, a residence, and now a tourist attraction after years of restoration. It’s free to visit Lucy, but those wishing for a tour inside the building can buy tickets for $8.50 apiece (kids aged 3-12 are only $4).
Location: Off I-5 in Turner, Oregon
The Enchanted Forest is a theme park built and operated by Tofte family in a beautiful forest setting in Oregon. The park is open seasonally from late March to the end of September. The park includes a Western town, old European village, and Storybook Lane, the park’s original section that focuses on bringing nursery rhymes to life. Visitors can also pan for gems, catch a water-light show, or see a comedy or music show.
Location: Off I-90 in Wall, South Dakota
You’re guaranteed to see the famous hand-painted signs for this South Dakota drugstore hundreds of miles before you get anywhere near the place (or maybe further… the signs were taken all over the world by soldiers during World War II).
Take a break at the 530-seat Western Art Gallery Restaurant and enjoy famous buffalo burgers, homemade donuts, or just grab a 5-cent coffee. Then stroll around the largest privately-owned Western and illustration art collections in the country, with more than 300 original oil paintings. In the backyard area, there’s a Jumping Jets Water Show, a panning and mining experience, the Shooting Gallery Arcade, the Little Britches Toy Emporium, photo opportunities with the 6-foot rabbit, the mini-Mount Rushmore, the buckin’ bronc, the life-size robot T-Rex, and, of course, the ever-popular Giant Jackalope.