From coast-to-coast, and dotting the map in countless places in between, America is full of unique and quirky oddities just waiting to be discovered! With the pandemic continuing to limit international travel, it’s a great time to hit the road to seek out some of these weird and wonderful tourist attractions right here in the USA. Here are ten to get you started to help you plan your next road trip adventure.
1. Green Giant (Minnesota):
Just off of I-90 in Blue Earth, Minnesota, the Jolly Green Giant(yes, that Jolly Green Giant) rises 6 stories tall to greet visitors with a "Welcome to the Valley” sign. There's even a small park where you can stop for a picnic. Remember to pack your veggies!
2. Cadillac Ranch (Texas):
Get your kicks on Route 66 here at the Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo, Texas. Here, in the middle of a field, ten Cadillacs are half-buried with their tail fins up in an art installation that has been in place here since 1974. Bring your own spray paint and join other amateur artists in leaving your mark here on this nod to the American classic car.
3. South of the Border (South Carolina):
If you're unsure where the unofficial line that divides the Southeast from the Mid-Atlantic states lies, look no further than Pedro at South of the Border in Hamer, South Carolina. As you travel I-95 you'll see signs for miles full of punny jokes advertising this tourist attraction just south of the border from North Carolina.
4. Paul Bunyan and Babe (California):
Highway 101 through California’s redwood forest is an impressive drive in its own right, but a roadside stop near Klamath at the Trees of Mystery boasts a “life size” statue of the tall tale giant Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe. While you can also take a tour through the Trees of Mystery, the statues are free to stop and see or take advantage of a quick photo op from the parking lot just off the highway.
5. Ark Encounter (Kentucky):
If you are traveling I-75 through northern Kentucky it's hard to miss the built-to-scale replica of Noah’s Ark. For a fee you can also tour the grounds and the ark to learn more about flood legends and how animals might have been cared for on the ark. The Ark Encounter is open 7 days a week, rain or shine!
6. Wall Drug (South Dakota):
If you are traveling across I-80, maybe on your way to or from the Badlands, you’ll see a plethora of billboards hyping Wall Drug. The place boasts oversized animal statues in the backyard, and FREE ICE WATER, so don’t forget to stop! Built in 1931 as a respite for travelers coming across the Badlands of South Dakota, Wall Drug has become synonymous with roadside tourist attractions and kitschy Americana.
7. Cabazon Dinosaurs (California):
You might think that you’re seeing a desert mirage along I-10 in southern California, but your eyes aren’t deceiving you—the world’s largest dinosaurs are just off the highway and present the perfect photo op in any season. If you venture inside you’ll find a gift shop and memorabilia commemorating the history of these roadside treasures.
8. Babyland General Hospital (Georgia):
Remember those lovable Cabbage Patch dolls from the 1980s? Have you ever wondered where exactly the cabbage patch is located? Look no further than Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia where you can witness the birth of Cabbage Patch dolls daily. Admission is free, but if you feel so inclined, you can adopt your own doll for the price of a small adoption fee.
9. Hole ’N' the Rock (Utah):
Along Highway 191 in southern Utah you’ll see a large, rather nondescript painting on a cliff along the side of the road advertising “Hole ‘N’ the Rock”. If you stop to inquire about this hole in the rock you’ll find a 5,000 square foot home built into the rock formation. You can tour the home, visit a petting zoo and trading post at this same location before continuing on through miles of desert along the way to either Moab, UT, or the Four Corners region.
10. World’s Largest Ball of Twine (Kansas):
While many other locations have tried to steal their claim to fame, Cawker City, Kansas is home to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Weighing in at over 19,000 pounds and made up of nearly 8 million feet of twine you can visit the ball of twine in its own outdoor pavilion any day of the week. Should you wish to add to the ball of twine, you can call to make arrangements, or just stop by Almost Done Inn in Cawker City and ask Lottie Herod for some twine and you too can be a part of this unique piece of American roadside fun!
Sharing the Fun
These are just a sampling of some of the wonders that you can find on the highways and byways of the US. So make a plan to hit the road with friends and family - and build your own set of “must see” sites.