16 Roadside Attractions You’ve Got to See to Believe

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Going cross-country this summer? Get your motor running and head out on the highway. Family road trips rock, especially when you stop and take in the amazing (and sometimes oddball!) roadside attractions along the way. Giant dinosaurs? Check. Troll under a bridge? Definitely brake for that too! Sometimes the most memorable part of the trip isn’t the destination, it’s the journey to get there!

Carhenge – Alliance, NE

Stonehenge + cars = Carhenge. There’s not much more of an explanation given by creator Jim Reinders and we kind of like that. You can visit Carhenge from dawn to dusk any day of the year. 

Center of the World – Felicity, CA

If you ever wondered where the center of the world is, exactly, it’s in Felicity, California. This is where, in the 1950s, French-born Jacques-Andre Istel purchased 2,600 acres of empty land, declared himself the mayor, and erected a hodgepodge of monuments including a spiral staircase supposedly salvaged from the Eiffel Tower, a hilltop church, and a “History of Humanity” wall that starts with the Big Bang and is still unfinished.

For a small fee, you can step inside a peach granite pyramid, place your feet on the metal plaque that says, “Official Center of the World,” and check this one off your bucket list.

 

Courtesy Dog Bark Park Inn

Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, ID

Dog-lover? Have a thing for beagles? Put this offbeat bed and breakfast on your list of stops if you’re traveling anywhere near Cottonwood, Idaho. Why? Because the giant brown-black-and-white pooch at the Dog Bark Park Inn is officially the World’s Biggest Beagle! And you can sleep inside of it! Well-behaved pets are, of course, also welcome.

 

Gabby Cullen

Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX

A legend on historic Route 66, these 10 Cadillacs were half-buried in the dirt by San Francisco artists in 1974. Road ramblers have spray painted and deconstructed them since, but it doesn’t take away from their allure.

 

A Christmas Story House and Museum – Cleveland, OH

Fans of the 1983 comedy, A Christmas Story, will be in stiletto-lamp heaven at the Christmas Story House and Museum— the real-life home that served as Ralphie’s house in the famed film. Walk the halls and check out a slew of original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos. If you’re so inclined, you can even stop into the gift shop and buy your very own FRAGILE (Frah-Jee-lay) red-stocking lamp.

 

EddieWorld – Yermo, CA

If you are road tripping between Las Vegas and LA, chances are you’ve made a pit stop at EddieWorld. Dubbed the “Disneyland of Gas Stations,” EddieWorld can be easily spotted with its 65-foot ice cream sundae out front (the cherry even lights up at night!). Snacks and gas pumps are plentiful and the bathrooms are reported to be impeccably clean (not something you hear often from gas stations). In addition to getting chips and soda, you can snag burgers, chicken fingers and even sushi at EddieWorld. Don’t skip the homemade ice cream!

Cabazon Dinosaurs – Cabazon, CA

Pee-Wee Herman might have made them famous in the eighties, but these giant concrete dinosaurs are still worth a stop if you need a place to stretch your legs on the way to Palm Springs (or if you need a diversion before a day of shopping at the Cabazon Outlets). Climb inside the three-story T-Rex that towers over the park, as well as inside the 150-foot-long Apatosaurus, which was the first of the dinos to make an appearance here in the 1960s.

 

The Thing – Dragoon, AZ

Thanks to the can’t-miss signage that pops up every few miles (247 times, to be exact) on the long stretch of I-10 between El Paso, TX, and Tucson, AZ, you’ll be wondering what “The Thing” is hours before you reach the massive roadside trading post that houses its mysterious remains. So what is it? Only those who have seen it can speculate (and we’re not telling).

 

Wikimedia Commons

Four Corners – Utah, New Mexico, Arizona & Colorado

Sit—and get your photo taken—in four states at one time. Four Corners is the only place in the U.S. where four states meet. It’s managed by the Navajo Nation, and there’s a small admission fee. 

 

Hole N’ The Rock – Moab, UT

Knock, knock. Visitors are welcome to enter and tour this historic 5,000-square-foot home and trading post in Utah’s Canyonlands Country. It began as a little alcove for a family’s children to sleep at night and now is a full-blown tourist destination that has even added a petting zoo.

Wikimedia Commons

Leaning Tower – Niles, IL

See a piece of Pisa in a northern suburb of Chicago. The Leaning Tower is located in the Village of Niles and was originally built as a creative way to house water tanks. Since its completion in 1934, the city has added a reflecting pool and fountain. Faux Italy, here you come.

 

The Mystery Spot – Santa Cruz, CA

You won’t know which way is up, down, or sideways when you visit this strange tourist destination located in the woods about 20 minutes northeast of downtown Santa Cruz. Watch water (seemingly) roll uphill; stand crooked inside a tilted log cabin; get taller or shorter than your fellow visitors, depending on where you stand. Find out more here

 

Alaina Weimer

Fremont Troll – Seattle, WA

Rumored troll sightings underneath the Aurora bridge led to the carving of this huge troll statue. One of his eyes is a hubcap and he’s clutching a Volkswagen Beetle. Look out, drivers!

 

Wall Drug – Badlands, SD

Welcome to the Badlands—and all the kitschy fun that comes along with it. Wall Drug is a 76,000-square-foot destination packed with free attractions and photo opportunities. A big fave is posing with the jackalope statue outside the drug store.

 

Santa’s Workshop

North Pole, CO

Sure, you could go to Santa Claus, IN or Christmas Cove, ME, but why not take your kids to Saint Nick’s hometown itself? Go to the North Pole! OK, so it’s in Colorado. And it’s an amusement park. But who cares? Located just west of Colorado Springs in the town of (shhh) Cascade, this North Pole is home to Santa’s Workshop, a Christmas-themed amusement park that’s open year-round. Soar on the sleigh-themed zip-line; hop on the Candy Cane Coaster; chug along on Santa’s train, and see the white-bearded man of honor himself. Your kids will be seeing sugarplums all day long. Find out more here. 

Pssst: Stuck on the East Coast? There’s a North Pole there, too!

 

Amber Guetebier

Cupid’s Span – San Francisco, CA

Right next to the Ferry Building you’ll find the totally awesome, giant bow and arrow known as Cupid’s Span. This 60-foot sculpture sits on a grassy spot that’s fun for both picnics and Bay Bridge photo opps. Bonus: right next door is the home of SFFD’s fire boats.

—Melissa Heckscher & Kelly Aiglon

 

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