Roadside Attractions You Must See at Least Once in Your Life

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A group of friends driving on the road to visit multiple roadside attractions

Have you ever seen a 55-foot Jolly Green Giant? Would you spend a night inside a 30-foot giant beagle? Would you be spooked by an 18-foot tall troll crawling under Seattle’s George Washington Memorial Bridge?

All of these popular roadside attractions draw tourists day after day across America. If you’ve made a road trip, you’re probably familiar with other head-scratching creations that make you pull over and take a closer look.

Let’s dive in and explore 15 roadside attractions you need to put on your must-see list the next time you drive across the country.

What Are Roadside Attractions? 

When long-distance road trips began about 100 years ago, entrepreneurs took note. They built buildings with unique architecture and statues of massive size to lure travelers.

Many of these roadside attractions were demolished or went out of business. However, several remain, especially along historic Route 66.

Roadside attractions draw visitors because they’re easy to see and convenient. Travelers don’t have to venture far off the interstate to get a selfie with Lucy the Elephant in New Jersey.

These roadside features are usually light-hearted and don’t serve any purpose other than providing relief during a long drive day.

Is There an App for Roadside Attractions?

Although there may be others, Roadside America is one of the best apps to find these unique icons. For $2.99, users can choose one of the seven regions listed in the United States and Canada and add additional regions for an extra fee.

The app takes the years of work collected by the folks at Roadside America and puts it at your fingertips for you to discover these unusual and comical locations on your road trip.

Pro Tip: Learn more about the Roadside America App and how to use it on your next road trip to find unique stops!

15 Iconic Roadside Attractions You Need to See at Least Once

There are dozens of roadside attractions just on Route 66. So narrowing down these destinations is a difficult task when there are so many across the country.

But here are some of the funniest, coolest, and most enjoyable roadside attractions. You’ll want to make sure to stop at these locations if planning a road trip through these states. 

1. Dinosaur Park – Rapid City, S.D.

Address: 940 Skyline Dr, Rapid City, SD 57701

About: These colossal 1936 creatures are by Emmet A. Sullivan. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce wanted to capitalize on the many visitors who traveled nearby Mount Rushmore.

There are five figures on this hilltop along Skyline Drive – an Apatosaurus, a Triceratops, a Stegosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a Brontosaurus.

Situated along walkways and a parking lot, these dinosaurs welcome climbing kids to get out and stretch their legs. Standing at the highest point, the Brontosaurus is 80 feet long and 28 feet tall.

2. Paper House – Rockport, Mass.

Address: 52 Pigeon Hill St, Rockport, MA 01966

About: In 1924, mechanical engineer Elis Fritiof Stenman decided to build a house out of paper outside Boston. According to Roadside America, “The roof, floor, porch, and framework were made of traditional materials, but everything else was paper.

Specifically, newspaper. Elis read three of them a day, so he had plenty of raw material – and when neighbors and friends found out about his project, they donated their day-old papers to his supply.” 

But he didn’t stop there. Elis continued by making the furniture out of paper, too. Visitors can stop to see this roadside attraction that withstood blizzards, hurricanes, and other storms. There’s a $2 donation request box on the property.

3. The Spud Drive-In – Driggs, Idaho

Address: 2175 ID-33, Driggs, ID 83422

About: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Spud Drive-In is still active. Back in 1989, Richard and Dawnelle Wood were looking for a way to grab the attention of passersby.

They bought an old farm truck and built a giant potato that still sits in the truck bed. Today, travelers can stop in for a movie or just take a selfie with the giant potato and truck, a tribute to a classic novelty postcard of a giant spud on the back of a farm truck.

The Spud Drive in giant potato and truck, a well known roadside attraction
Source: Spud Drive-In

4. Lucy the Elephant – Margate City, N.J.

Address: 9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402

About: A National Historic Landmark, Lucy the Elephant stands six stories tall and weighs 90 tons. Built in 1881, Lucy was actually an operating building when first constructed.

A real estate office, a hotel, and a tavern all found homes inside Lucy at one point. Today, weary travelers can take a break and stand in awe of this giant elephant.

For a small admission fee, they can even venture inside, travel a spiral staircase in one of her legs, and reach the top of her back for beautiful views of Margate City and the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard – Waterbury, Vt.

Address: 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury Village Historic District, VT 05676

About: If you don’t have time to tour the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, at least make a stop at the Flavor Graveyard. Built on a hill in the back of the plant, the graveyard becomes home to the flavors that just didn’t cut it in sales.

About 40 headstones are situated here, from Miz Jelena’s Sweet Potato Pie (laid to rest in 1993) to Peanut Butter & Jelly (laid to rest in 1999). Standing out as one of the most fun roadside attractions, it’s humorous yet tranquil as visitors walk around Flavor Graveyard.

6. Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine – Ashland, Pa.

Address:19th &, Oak St, Ashland, PA 17921

About: In 1962, Ashland, Pa., opened this coal mine for public tours. It’s quite easy to navigate with its mine cars, and the tour is an eye-opening experience into the life of coal mining.

The deepest point in the tour gets to 400 feet below the surface. Bring a jacket as the temperature in the mine remains around 52 degrees.

7. Christ of the Ozarks – Eureka Springs, Ark.

Address: 937 Passion Play Rd, Eureka Springs, AR 72632

About: Atop Magnetic Mountain, a 67-foot statue of Jesus Christ stands tall over the city of Eureka Springs. Built in 1966, the statue’s arms are 65 feet wide, and its head weighs 7.5 tons. Emmet A. Sullivan, the sculptor of Dinosaur Park, was hired to complete the project.

It’s very similar to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.

A couple standing by the Christ of the Ozarks roadside attraction in Eureka Spring
Source: The Great Passion Play

8. Coral Castle – Homestead, Fla.

Address: 28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033

About: Ed Leedskalnin started working on the Coral Castle in honor of his love Agnes Scuffs who actually left the day before their wedding in Latvia. It has been a wonder since its completion. Leedskalnin was only 100 pounds and managed to construct this huge architectural wonder without any equipment.

He used over 2.2 million pounds of coral rock. No one knows the story behind his creation or how he accomplished this feat, and that mystery adds to the effect when visitors stop in to see the Coral Castle in Homestead, Flor.

9. World’s Largest Chest of Drawers – High Point, N.C.

Address: 508 N Hamilton St, High Point, NC 27262

About: One of the oldest roadside attractions, at almost 100 years old, the World’s Largest Chest of Drawers was built to draw in visitors to the furniture industry in High Point, N.C. The 19th-century dresser now stands 38 feet tall and has a dangling pair of 6-foot socks. But it didn’t always look like this.

The original drawers started falling apart in the 1990s, and Sid Lenger oversaw the makeover. Previously, it was white with floral accents and a vertical mirror and stood 32 feet tall. Completely transformed, this chest of drawers now proudly welcomes visitors to the Tarheel state.

10. Carhenge – Alliance, Neb.

Address: 2151 Co Rd 59, Alliance, NE 69301

About: An ode to Stonehenge, Carhenge was created by Jim Reinders, who longed to copy England’s wonder in physical size and placement. You’ll find 39 automobiles constructed in a circle about 96 feet in diameter to meet the same size and placement as the ancient stones of Stonehenge.

In 1987, the construction was complete, and 20 years later, a visitor center was added to welcome tourists.

Keep in Mind: Next time you’re in South Carolina, a must see roadside attraction to add to your itinerary is South of the Border! This article will tell you everything you need to know about this roadside attraction!

11. Bigfoot Discovery Museum – Felton, Calif.

Address: 5497 Hwy 9, Felton, CA 95018

About: In 2004, Michael Rugg opened the Bigfoot Discovery Museum but didn’t have a grand opening until 2006 due to delayed approval. Today, visitors can browse the local history exhibits that tie in with local Bigfoot sightings and browse popular culture public viewings of Bigfoot.

There are plaster foot and hand prints and a detailed exhibit on the Patterson-Gimlin Film with Bigfoot sightings.

12. World’s Largest Frying Pan – Georgetown, Del.

Address: 510 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, DE 19947

About: Forged in 1950, Delaware’s giant iron skillet claimed the title of the largest frying pan in the world at 10 feet across and 18 feet long. As one of the most unique roadside attractions, the pan can hold up to 160 gallons of oil or 200 chickens.

It actually fried chickens for the annual Delmarva Chicken Festival for decades until it was retired in 1987. Today it’s a roadside attraction worthy of a selfie as you drive through the state of Delaware.

13. The Hammer Museum – Haines, Alaska

Address: 108 Main Street, Haines, AK 99827

About: Owner Dave Pahl started the Hammer Museum when his wife wouldn’t let him own any more hammers at home. There are over 1,700 hammers on display, including collections from ancient times through the industrial age.

It’s hard to miss with its 20-foot hammer standing tall outside the entrance.

A hammer wall at the Hammer Museum, a top roadside attraction
Source: The Hammer Museum

14. Mardi Gras World – New Orleans, La.

Address: 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130

About: If you’ve never made it to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you can still take in the stunning floats that bring the streets to life when visiting Mardi Gras World any time of the year. The volume of what’s inside is simply jaw-dropping.

Visitors can walk through the massive studios where they build floats, dress up in elaborate Mardi Gras costumes, watch a historic video, and eat a free slice of King Cake. 

15. Oldest Bob’s Big Boy – Burbank, Calif.

Address: 4211 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505

About: Are you familiar with these roadside attractions, the Big Boy statues that hoist a double-decker cheeseburger platter overhead? The Big Boy burger chain started in 1936 in Glendale, Calif., but the one in Burbank is the oldest still in operation.

The famous puffy boy stands underneath the 35-foot sign, ready for tourists to snap a selfie in front of the 1949 burger joint.

Close up of the Big Boy statue, a great roadside attraction option
Source: Big Boy

Make Your Next Road Trip One to Remember

If you’ve never made plans to stop and enjoy roadside attractions during a road trip, you’re missing out! They’re comical, awe-inspiring, and educational all in one.

Some of them make you scratch your head, while others cause your jaw to drop. So whether you’re traveling the west coast, east coast, or somewhere in between, look up the roadside attraction along your route. Take a few extra minutes to grab a photo and enjoy the creativity of Americans.

What roadside attraction would you add to the must-see list?

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  1. “Trees of Mystery”, Klamath, CA is a whimsical journey through giant Redwoods on the North Coast of California. Admission is required but well worth it as you walk among these giants, traverse a rope bridge known as “Sky Trail”, ride a tram to an observation point above the trees where, on a clear day, the Pacific Ocean is visible, view various unique trees and setting, including a grove where weddings are conducted; and pass through a series of wood-carvings that are a sight to behold. First visited in August 2021. Would not hesitate to visit again. A gift shop offers many souvenir as well as an ice cream counter. Don’t miss the Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox welcoming visitors to this “must-see” attraction.

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