The Strangest Roadside Attraction in Every State
As you travel our great country to see some of its most beautiful sights, don't miss these offbeat attractions you'll find along the sides of roads and just off the interstates around the United States.
On Alabama’s Gulf Coast, you’ll find not only plenty of beaches, but some unusual attractions, as well. Bamahenge, one of several oddities at Elberta’s Barber Marina, will give you not just a reason to go boating, but an opportunity to see Alabama’s version of Stonehenge, made out of fiberglass. While you’re there, don’t miss The Lady in the Lake sculpture and an assortment of dinosaurs in the woods. Sounds like a place even the kids will love—as are the places on our list of the best family vacation destination by state.
Alaska: Reliable Sheet Metal Wizard of Oz Statues
Fans of The Wizard of Oz will definitely want to stop at this sheet metal fabricator in Juneau, which has dedicated its roof to the characters of the classic flick—all made of sheet metal, of course. While they vary in size, the Tin Man stands at more than 9 feet tall. The company says they built the statues as a way to draw attention to their business.
Arizona: Golf Ball House
Once a 1970s restaurant and nightclub, this eye-popping structure in Yucca is known to locals as the “giant ping pong ball” or the “golf ball house.” The 40-foot-diameter geodesic dome, called Area 66, draws many tourists and passersby, who spot it from the road. Unfortunately, you can’t peek inside.
Arkansas: The Raven
You can’t miss this 12-foot tall statue of a raven when passing through the town of Ravenden Springs. Made of cement and stucco, the statue’s base reads “The raven was the first bird sent from the ark in search of land,” and “the raven has the reputation for divine or magical powers.” This town mascot even appeared in an episode of the TV series King of the Hill.
California: Salvation Mountain
This colorful site outside Palm Springs, California, is a man-made mountain featuring a cross and painted with brightly-colored art and messages, including “God is Love” and “Love is Universal.” Salvation Mountain has been featured on Ripley’s Believe it or Not and on the Discovery Channel.
Colorado: UFO Watchtower
The San Luis Valley of Colorado has a reputation as a hot spot for alien activity with many unidentified flying objects supposedly spotted here. The UFO Watchtower in Hooper has little to no light pollution, making it all the easier for you to spot your own UFO… or just enjoy a little stargazing. Don’t miss the best free tourist attraction in every state.
Connecticut: Essex Steam Train
Catch an old-fashioned steam train chugging along the Valley Railroad in Essex. Essex Station was built in 1892 and is the home base for a 12-mile loop of tracks. You can see the station, as well as the steam engine and vintage coaches working their way through the nearby towns of Deep River and Chester.
Delaware: Our Lady Queen of Peace Shrine
Check out this 33-foot stainless steel statue of the Virgin Mary in the art gallery at Holy Spirit Church in New Castle. The church says the Our Lady Queen of Peace statue, which was designed and sculpted by Charles Parks, was built “to remind us of Mary’s love for all Her children and to offer us hope for peace throughout the world.” The statue is visible to those traveling along the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Interstate 295.
Florida: World’s largest seashell factory
Known as the shelling capital of the world, it’s only fitting that Fort Myers would be home to The Shell Factory, which claims to be the largest seashell retailer in the world. In addition to shells, visitors will find the largest taxidermy collection in North America and changing displays like the “Year Round Christmas House.” There’s also a restaurant, trampoline, zip lines, and bumper boats on the 18-acre property. Find out the most iconic bucket list adventures in each state.
Georgia: Georgia Guidestones
Located seven miles north of the city of Elberton on Highway 77, these 19-foot tall granite stones proclaim a message about the conservation of mankind in a dozen different languages. No one knows who built the Georgia Guidestones, which are also known as “America’s Stonehenge.”
Hawaii: St. Benedict’s Painted Church
Built in 1899 and overlooking Kealakekua Bay, St. Benedict’s Painted Church on the Big Island of Hawaii is known for its beautiful interior Christian paintings by Father John Velghe, who had no formal artistic training. Because few Hawaiians could read at that time, he used his paintings to teach through pictures. Find out which Hawaiian island is the best for visitors.
Idaho: The Spud Drive-In Theater
Why wouldn’t you find a drive-in named after potatoes in a state known for its great spuds?! At the Spud Drive-in Theater in Driggs, a potato-farming region of Idaho, visitors are greeted by a giant potato on the back of a 1946 Chevrolet truck. Built in 1953, the drive-in shows feature films on Fridays and Saturdays.
Illinois: Abe Lincoln Rail Splitter Statue
It’s no surprise to find a statue of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in the city of Springfield, Illinois, where he lived, raised his children, and was buried. But this one is 30 feet tall (even taller than the 19-foot statue at the Lincoln Memorial) and he’s carved without his iconic beard. This clean-shaven version of a young Lincoln stands at Gate 1 of the Illinois State Fairgrounds built in 1968 is named “The Rail Splitter”. Geography buff? See if you can ace this U.S. state capital quiz.
Indiana: World’s Largest Paint Ball
At this fun roadside attraction in Alexandria, visitors can add their own coat of paint to the world’s largest paintball. What started as a regular-size baseball now weighs more than 4,000 pounds and has some 23,000 layers of paint. Mike and Glenda Carmichael of Alexandria started the project more than 40 years ago, and since then, it’s been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Iowa: World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Pot
Who wouldn’t want to get their photo taken next to the world’s largest Swedish coffee pot? This former water tower in Stanton is now painted with decorative flowers and hearts and could hold 800,000 cups of coffee. One more tie to coffee for this town: The actress who played Mrs. Olson in Folgers® coffee commercials happens to be from Stanton. Find out the strangest food laws in every state.
Kansas: World’s Largest Ball of Twine
Check seeing the world’s largest ball of twine off your list with a stop in Cawker City, Kansas. This 19,000-pound ball with more than 8 million feet of twine uses only sisal twine, typically used to hold together bales of hay. A local farmer created the ball in 1953 as a way to use his extra twine, and today, visitors can add to the ball with provided pre-weighed twine. You’ll find this attraction along Highway 24.
Kentucky: The Big Bone Lick Museum
Big Bone Lick State Historic Park in Union, Kentucky was once covered in swamps, which attracted ancient animals, including bison, giant mammoths, and mastodons. Bones of these animals were well-preserved, and visitors can now see them at the museum on the grounds, as well as life-sized replicas of the historic creatures.
Louisiana: Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World in New Orleans gives visitors an inside look at what it takes to put on the massive festival of Mardi Gras. The tour includes a visit through Blaine Kern Studios, an operating workshop that has been creating Mardi Gras parade floats since 1947. Be sure to bring your phone for plenty of selfie opportunities in front of floats or even wearing a Mardi Gras costume.
Maine: Paul Bunyon Statue
Once the lumber capital of the world, Bangor is home to a statue of one of the most famous lumberjacks, Paul Bunyan. The 31 foot-tall statue on the city’s Main Street may be the largest of Bunyan in the world. The statue even made a cameo in Stephen King’s novel, IT, when it came to life. Speaking of things-that-send-a-chill-up-your-spine, don’t miss the creepiest urban legend by state.
Maryland: War Correspondent’s Arch
If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail through Maryland, you can’t miss the imposing War Correspondent’s Arch, a National Historic Monument built in 1896. The 50-foot tall arch is located in Gathland State Park in Burkittsville, which was the former home of a Civil War journalist, and it serves as the only memorial in the world dedicated to journalists who have died while covering war.
Massachusetts: Moby Dick Statue
The statue of Moby Dick, created by artist Donna Dodson, is a nod to the city’s whaling history and part of the Massachusetts Whale Trail, which links nearly 40 museums, attractions, whale watching excursions, historic sites, and tours. You’ll find the sculpture on MacArthur Drive near the Cuttyhunk Ferry Pier in New Bedford. Don’t miss the most historical hotel in every state.
Michigan: Giant Uniroyal Tire
It’s only fitting to see a gigantic tire in the Motor City. The eight-story Giant Uniroyal Tire is a longtime landmark that sits in the city’s Allen Park near Detroit Metropolitan Airport. It was originally designed in the 1960s to be a Ferris wheel attraction for the New York World’s Fair. Check out these so-called-facts about the U.S. states that everyone gets wrong.
Minnesota: Jolly Green Giant statue
One of many claims to fame for the town of Blue Earth is the world’s largest statue of the Jolly Green Giant, which welcomes visitors to the town and stands at 55 1/2 feet tall, though the town also claims it is the birthplace of the ice cream sandwich. While visiting, don’t miss the GIANT Museum filled with Jolly Green Giant and Little Green Sprout memorabilia.
Mississippi: Elvis Presley statue
When visiting the hometown of Elvis Presley in Tupelo make time to stop at the Elvis Presley Homecoming Statue, which commemorates a 1956 homecoming concert he performed at the Tupelo Fairgrounds. Located in downtown in the Fairpark District, the statue is situated in front of City Hall and on the former site of the fairgrounds.
Montana: Garden of One Thousand Buddhas
Located on the land of the Flathead Reservation in Arlee, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas was designed to inspire and bring positive transformation to those who visit. Created through the visionary guidance of an incarnate Tibetan Buddhist lama, the site features 1,000 hand-cast Buddha statues around a central figure, representing perfect wisdom, along with native trees and flowers. Arlee is also the site of a center for Tibetan Buddhist studies.
Picture Stonehenge, but made from old cars instead of ancient stones, and you’ve got the idea of Carhenge located just outside of Alliance, Nebraska, on Highway 87. The structure was built by Jim Reinders in 1987, featuring mostly 1950s and 1960s automobiles. It’s painted gray and has all 38 “stones” to replicate Stonehenge. Stop in the Pit Stop Gift Shop open during the summer months for a souvenir of your visit.
Nevada: International Car Forest of the Last Church
At this unusual art installation outside of Goldfield, Nevada, off U.S. 95, artists use cars as canvases; with more than 40 cars, it’s believed to be the largest outdoor car exhibit in the country.
New Hampshire: Clark’s Trading Post
Founded in 1928, Clark’s Trading Post near Echo Lake and Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains is a family amusement park known for its shows with live trained bears. They also offer steam train rides, a Segway park, water rides, and lots of other activities for the perfect road stop. Don’t miss the best state fair in all 50 states.
New Jersey: Lucy the Elephant
Listed on the National Park Registry of Historic Landmarks, Lucy the Elephant is a classic site just south of Atlantic City in Margate, New Jersey, that was built in 1881. Visitors can climb inside the six-stories-tall elephant and enjoy a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby beaches from atop her back. Traveling to the Jersey Shore? You’ll want to check out these 10 amazing beaches.
New Mexico: Spaceship House
Located off of Central Avenue in the historic Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque are several private homes with very unique architecture, including this home designed by architect Bart Prince. It’s primarily known to locals as the spaceship or bug house.
New York: World’s largest pancake griddle
1n 1987, the city of Penn Yan laid claim to cooking the largest pancake in the world, weighing in at more than 4,000 pounds. To create this 1.7-million-calorie pancake coated with 15 gallons of syrup required an equally large pancake griddle, which visitors can see today displayed on the side of the Birkett Mills building. Find out the cheapest months of the year to visit all 50 states.
North Carolina: Last shell-shaped Shell Gas Station
Winston-Salem is home to the very last Shell gas station that is shaped like a shell, which you’ll find north of I-40 on E. Sprague Street. This unique 1930s roadside attraction was one of eight built by the Quality Oil Company, a Winston-based marketer of Shell Oil. While no longer selling gas, the station is now a regional office and information center about the station and other preservation projects.
North Dakota: World’s Largest Buffalo Monument
Did you know the buffalo is the first national mammal of the United States? Here’s your chance to grab a selfie with a 26-foot-tall, 60-ton concrete buffalo, which happens to be the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument, in Jamestown. Constructed in 1959, the statue is named “Dakota Thunder” and is just a short walk from the National Buffalo Museum.
Ohio: Longaberger Basket Building
Once the headquarters of the Longaberger Company, famous for its baskets, this building-turned-basket stands seven stories and is modeled after the company’s Medium Market Basket. You’ll find this giant basket 40 miles east of Columbus off Ohio 16 in Newark. Just the basket handles alone weigh a massive 150 tons.
Oklahoma: Golden Driller
One of the tallest free-standing statues in the U.S. at 76 feet tall, Tulsa’s Golden Driller serves as Oklahoma’s state monument. The Mid-Continental Supply Company originally constructed the statue in 1953 for the International Petroleum Exposition, though it now stands at the entrance to the Tulsa State Fairgrounds.
Oregon: Prehistoric Gardens
Located along the southern Oregon coast between Gold Beach and Port Orford is an actual prehistoric rainforest to which a businessman added life-size dinosaur replicas to recreate what it might have looked like millions of years ago. At Prehistoric Gardens, you’ll find 23 scientifically-correct, life-size dinosaurs, including a 46-foot-tall Brachiosaurus.
Pennsylvania: Haines Shoe House
Built in 1948, the Haines Shoe House in York was designed to look like a high-topped work shoe as an advertising ploy, but is a full five-story house inside. You can take a tour of the stucco home from spring through October, as well as enjoy hand-dipped ice cream in the ice cream parlor and a stop in the Shoe House Gift Shop. Looking for a souvenir? These are the best gifts to buy in every state.
Rhode Island: Newport Tower
It’s been an ongoing mystery to solve who built this stone tower that stands in Touro Park in Newport. While it is traditionally held that it is the remains of a 17th-century windmill, others hold to the theory that it was built by Vikings. Come see for yourself!
South Carolina: Peachoid
This region of South Carolina is known for its peaches, so in 1981, the Board of Public Works in Gaffney decided to build a water tower and paint it to look like a peach. Set off I-85, a main interstate between Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina, the peach is said to resemble a certain “rear” part of the human anatomy.
South Dakota: World’s largest pheasant
South Dakota has some of the best pheasant hunting in the world with the city of Huron a top spot and this giant pheasant, made of fiberglass and steel, reminds everyone who comes to town. Built in 1959, the monument sits on Highway 14.
Tennessee: World’s Largest Cedar Bucket
A visit to Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro showcases early pioneer life. It also happens to be the home of the world’s largest cedar bucket. Standing 6 feet tall and built in 1887 by the Tennessee Red Cedar Woodenworks Company, the bucket once stood at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The original bucket burned in 2005 but was rebuilt shortly after.
Texas: Eiffel Tower
When your town’s name is Paris, you might as well have your own Eiffel Tower as does the city of Paris, Texas. But, this one, of course, is topped by a cowboy hat in traditional Texas style. The tower stands 65-feet tall with a 3 1/2-foot-tall hat. The city added lighting to the tower in 2012.
Utah: Hole N” the Rock
What will you find at Hole N” the Rock just south of Moab, Utah? Well, an eclectic collection of many bizarre things from an exotic petting zoo and a cactus made from bowling balls to an aerial tram and a carved bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hole N” the Rock is all set around a home carved out of the surrounding sandstone complete with a fireplace, 14 rooms built around large pillars, and even a bathtub cut into the rock.
Two concrete silos, remnants of the Bell-Gates Lumber Mill that closed in 2002, stand at the junction of Routes 108 and 15 in Jeffersonville. Today, they have been turned into public art painted by artist Sarah Rutherford. Feast your eyes on these additional eye-popping art park sculptures.
Stonehenge made out of foam? Yes, indeed. You’ll find Foamhenge at Cox Farms in Centreville. The creation by Mark Cline originally stood at Virginia’s Natural Bridge. The attraction is closed from January through March and only open during limited hours the rest of the year.
West Virginia: Mothman Statue
The legend of the Mothman is ongoing in West Virginia, where many people say they have seen this moth-looking creature dating back to 1966; it even inspired a movie The Mothman Prophecies. Snap a selfie with a statue of the creature that stands next to the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant.
Wisconsin: World’s Largest Fish
Make a pit stop at the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, which also happens to be in the shape of a four-stories-tall fiberglass musky that is as long as a Boeing 757. Head into the Hall of Fame in the fish’s tail and make your way to its mouth where you can look out on the observation platform, and, of course, have someone down below snap your pic. Hungry? Start here to find the best ice cream shop in every state.
Wyoming: Jackalope Museum
A hybrid of a jackrabbit and an antelope, a jackalope is a cowboy legend in Wyoming, and the town of Dubois has a museum dedicated to it. Located inside a gas station, you’ll find some info about the jackalope, as well as snacks, ice cream, and souvenirs. Keep an eye out for the giant jackalope outside the store. Next, find out these 50 fascinating facts you never knew about the United States.