The road trip is the classic American right of passage. Whether it was the old Route 66 or any of today’s less famous (and infinitely more interesting) interstates that stretch across the country in all directions, there are literally millions of epic roadside attractions to see.
Each community has something heartwarming to offer visitors and deserves a visit in its own unique way!
We’ve pared down the enormous selection of roadside attractions in the United States to the top bizarre attractions. You should visit at some point, whether you live in the States or are just planning an extended visit. Let’s take a look!
Table of Contents
- Top Bizarre Roadside Attractions in the United States
- 1. The Beer Can House: Houston, TX
- 2. Biosphere 2: Tuscon, AZ
- 3. Cabazon Dinosaurs: Cabazon, CA
- 4. The Geographic Center of the United States: Lebanon, KS
- 5. World’s Largest Bottle of Ketchup: Collinsville, IL
- 6. World’s Largest Santa Claus: North Pole, Alaska
- 7. Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho
- 8. Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota
- 9. Wall Drug Store, South Dakota
- 10. The Enchanted Highway, North Dakota
- 11. Marsh’s Free Museum, Washington
- 12. Dinosaur World, Kentucky
- 13. World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Kansas
- 14. Hole N The Rock – Moab, Utah
- 15. Arkansas Alligator Farm, Arkansas
- 16. Bishop Castle, Colorado
- 17. Haines Shoe House, Pennsylvania
- 18. World’s Tallest Thermometer, California
- 19. R.W. Lindholm Service Station, Minnesota
- 20. Salvation Mountain, California
- 21. Lucy the Elephant, New Jersey
- 22. Secret Caverns, New York
- 23. Farnham Fantasy Farm, West Virginia
- 24. Flatwoods Monster Sign, West Virginia
- 25. Rock City, Georgia
- 26. The Mystery Hole, West Virginia
- 27. Hood Milk Bottle, Massachusetts
- What is the oldest roadside attraction?
- What is the largest roadside attraction?
- Is there an app for roadside attractions?
- What is the most beautiful place in the world to visit?
Top Bizarre Roadside Attractions in the United States
1. The Beer Can House: Houston, TX
Address: 222 Malone St, Houston, TX 77007, United States
Wanting to make his property look distinguished, John Milkovisch started remodeling his home and property in the late 1960s. He put down some marble and stone in his yard but then realized that he needed the siding to also look good. What came to mind was that he could make his own aluminum siding from beer cans, so that’s what he did.
It’s Amerian ingenuity at its finest!
For 18 years, Milkovisch attached over 50,000 beer cans in his efforts to have a property that was as low maintenance as possible.
Not to let the siding be outdone, he also created long beer can garlands that stream from the roof of his home like wind chimes that tend to tinkle in the wind. Milkovisch still lives there as an added bonus of Americana.
See Related: Best Things to Do at the Mall of America
2. Biosphere 2: Tuscon, AZ
Address: 32540 S Biosphere Rd, Oracle, AZ 85739, United States
Biosphere 2 was once one of the 50 modern wonders of the world. Biosphere 2 was built when enclosed environments were thought to be the most sustainable way to maintain agricultural conditions in dramatically poor environments.
Scientists were going to spend years upon years in the Biosphere. But after watching Bio-Dome decided that the possibility of scientists being deranged by the lack of contact from the outside world and things like exploding coconuts (Google it!) was probably a bad combination.
Today you can visit this educational center at the base of the Santa Clara Mountains to learn about our planet and see a replica of a Mars lander.
3. Cabazon Dinosaurs: Cabazon, CA
Address: 50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230, United States
The Cabazon Dinosaurs is perhaps one of the best roadside attractions in the US. It has appeared in movies, television commercials, and the nightmares of the millions of commuters who travel beneath them every day!
For added kicks and giggles, you can explore a museum located within the bowels of the gigantic T-Rex.
There’s even talk about turning the dinosaurs into a Creationist theme park, which would add another level of complexity to these roadside attractions in the United States. Or, if you don’t want the road trip, you could watch The Wizard starring Fred Savage. You will get a good dose of what to expect anyway.
See Related: Best State Parks in Iowa to Visit
4. The Geographic Center of the United States: Lebanon, KS
Address: Lebanon, KS 66952, United States
The only thing better than visiting an unusual landmark is visiting that unusual landmark with geographical significance.
At the Center of the United States, you’ll find… wait for it… a slightly erroneous plaque dedicated to the geographical center of the United States, You see, it’s about 20 miles off.
As an added perk, however, you can catch a stunning, handmade sign that tells you there are souvenirs in Lebanon that you can purchase! Huzzah!
5. World’s Largest Bottle of Ketchup: Collinsville, IL
Address: 800 S Morrison Ave, Collinsville, IL 62234, United States
First of all, you must have the debate as to whether it is “catsup” or “ketchup.” They might call it catsup on the bottle, but we’ll call it ketchup here. Either way, what you’ll see is exactly what you’d expect to see.
It’s a giant red bottle.
It doubles up as the town’s water tower and was built in honor of the nearby ketchup bottling plant. For an extra dose of bizarre Americana, ensure to come into town on the big ketchup bottle’s birthday to gather around with the townsfolk to sing “Happy Birthday” to their water tower!
It’s like something out of The Wicker Man, but way more kitschy.
6. World’s Largest Santa Claus: North Pole, Alaska
Address: 101 Saint Nicholas Drive, North Pole,
If you feel like an extra-long road trip that includes Canada, then a trip up to the North Pole (alright, not the North Pole) will help you discover the Santa Claus house, home to a place where Christmas exists year-round.
Just how big is Santa? He stands over 40 feet tall and weighs in at half a ton, but that’s what you’d expect for a man who eats cookies and milk from billions of households around the world.
He’s been at the North Pole since 1983 and has no plans on moving from where he currently stands with a cheerful smile from his little suburb community outside of Fairbanks.
7. Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho
Address: 2421 Business Loop 95, Cottonwood, ID 83522, United States
Dog Bark Park Inn was built by Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. It opened in August 2003 as the world’s biggest beagle.
If you plan a road trip, Dog Bark Park Inn may be a favorite destination. This tourist attraction site is located along Highway 95 in Cottonwood, Idaho. The shape of the inn makes it a landmark in the United States. Locals simply refer to it as Sweet Willy.
It appears on our list of weirdest roadside attractions because you can actually spend your night there. Dog Bark Park Inn offers bed and breakfast with dog-themed content. Hence, the name.
The hotel also has a gift shop, visitors center, and an art gallery of a Chainsaw artist. You will be amazed by the different dog breeds the carvings show. All thanks to Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin.
8. Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota
Address: 1126 Green Giant Ln, Blue Earth, MN 56013, United States
If you are looking for the best roadside attraction in Minnesota, consider Jolly Green Giant one of the best. This giant has been standing in the Blue Earth since 1979, thanks to the radio station owner Paul Hedberg. He has been looking after the giant statue over the years, and it has remained in pretty good shape.
The Jolly Green Giant stands 55.5 feet high and is dressed in healthy vegetables and 6-feet-long warrior boots.
The giant was named after the Green Giant Vegetables that thrived in the area. Paul Hedberg would give these to travelers, who he interviewed as they moved through the city. The place is still cherished for this rich history and is a national historic landmark.
9. Wall Drug Store, South Dakota
Address: 510 Main St, Wall, SD 57790, United States
Wall Drug Store is located near Badlands National Park in the western part of South Dakota. The store is popularly known for hand-painted signs that advertise free ice water. That approach, and less competition at that time, made the Wall Drug Store grow and become one of the United States’ leading roadside attractions.
Wall Drug Store has become a vast kitsch and commercial center, along with Interstate 90, where motorists stop to shop for different items, including Western wear. You can also stop by for refreshments and a break. The restaurants are best known for buffalo burgers and handmade donuts.
Wall Drug Store has a rich history that dates back to 1931. It has come from a humble beginning to become a must-stop site for many travelers. It attracts close to 2 million visitors to the City of Wall.
Visitors cannot resist stopping by to stretch their legs or enjoy the home-style meal and drinks offered here. Regardless of the nature of your trip, Wall Drug Store remains a roadside attraction you can’t just ignore.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Voyageurs National Park
10. The Enchanted Highway, North Dakota
Address: 607 Main St, Regent, ND 58650, United States
Driving along the Enchanted Highway, formerly known as Highway 21, can be monotonous. That is true until you get to a great piece of art by a metal sculptor and retired school teacher, Gary Greff. His metal works stand out in the middle of almost nowhere, as a chain of awesome roadside attractions.
The Gary Greff art pieces include the following:
- The Tin Family (1991)
- Teddy Rides Again (1993)
- Pheasants on the Prairie (1996)
- Grasshoppers in the Field (1999)
- Geese in Flight (2001)
- Deer Crossing (2002)
- Fisherman’s Dream (2006)
- Spider Webs (In progress)
His work started in 1989 and has continued ever since to date. Gary drew his inspiration for the metal sculptures from local wildlife and historical figures, such as Theodore Roosevelt.
The Enchanted Highway is now one of the best roadside attractions in the United States, attracting thousands of tourists each year.
See Related: Best Winter Destinations in Washington State
11. Marsh’s Free Museum, Washington
Address: 409 Pacific Ave, Long Beach, WA 98631, United States
Marsh’s Free Museum is located in Long Beach, Washington. This iconic site offers travelers camping sites and other recreational activities. This place is best known for its iconic Jack the Alligator. It is the mummified remains of cigar-smoking, cross-dressing celebrity of the Northwestern coast.
The Free Museum is a popular tourist destination for what it has to offer. What you can see ranges from snake skins to beehives and Soviet military medals. Many people go there to fulfill their curiosity about things they have just been hearing.
The museum has a vast, eclectic collection of things that we cannot list here for the sake of time. So, fulfill your curiosity, pay a visit to see glass fishing floats and other wonders that still remain hidden in the museum.
12. Dinosaur World, Kentucky
Address: 711 Mammoth Cave Rd, Cave City, KY 42127, United States
Dinosaur World is located in Cave City, Kentucky. It is one of the epic roadside destinations in the US, featuring sculptures of life-sized dinosaurs in a natural setting, comparable to the fictitious Jurassic Park. But this place offers more than just a roadside attraction.
The park offers dino-themed playgrounds to captivate your kids and provide family fun. You cannot just underrate this place. If you don’t have somewhere to go this weekend, consider this the best choice.
It also features a 5,000 sq. ft gift shop for the best value for historical artifacts. Your kids will have access to toys, games, and beautiful geodes.
It is a worthy place to spend your weekend with kids and give them an experience of a lifetime.
13. World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Kansas
Address: 719 Wisconsin St, Cawker City, KS 67430, United States
The World’s Largest Ball of Twine is located in Cawker City, Kansas. This world record holder is the major highlight and main tourist attraction in Cawker City.
Frank Stoeber, the man behind the historic ball, created a ball with 1.6 million feet of twine. Unfortunately, Frank died in 1974, but his legacy still lives. Cawker City built an open-air gazebo over the ball, and more twines were added to pay tribute to its designer.
The world’s Largest Ball of Twine remains the largest ball made by sisal twine built by one person. By 2014, the ball measured 41.42 feet in circumference, 10.8 feet in height, 8 feet in diameter, and weighed about 20,000 pounds.
The Cawker City even celebrates Twine Ball Day on the second Saturday of every August each year. If you want to learn more about it, there is an adjacent free-to-visit museum and a gift shop where you can get all the information.
14. Hole N The Rock – Moab, Utah
Address: 11037 US-191, Moab, UT 84532
Hole N The Rock is a unique attraction because of its location and how it was built. It all started when a hole in the rock was turned into a home. Before it was turned into an attraction site, it was home to a builder and his wife.
Albert Christensen is the man behind this bizarre roadside attraction. He started to cut through the sandstone cliff in 1940. His family moved into their new home in 1952 and stayed there until his death in 1957.
How we wish he could have lived longer in his one-of-a-kind home! The stories he could tell! Like why on Earth he thought this was a good idea!
This home in a massive rock is now open to the public. You can take a guided tour to enter it and see the architectural skills that turned a sandstone rock into a home. The guided tour should reveal lots of history behind the functional 14-room mansion.
Hole N The Rock also hosts a petting zoo and a gift shop.
15. Arkansas Alligator Farm, Arkansas
Address: 847 Whittington Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901, United States
Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo are located on Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The farm was founded in 1802 to mainly raise alligators. It also hosts a small museum featuring mounted alligators, a snack bar, and a souvenir shop.
The farm started out as a business, raising only alligators for their hides and selling them to parks and zoos. It is one of the first farms in history to use incubators to hatch eggs. That made the business of selling baby alligators boom in the early years.
The alligator-only farm now includes other zoo animals. You can find cougars, turkeys, chickens, turtles, ring-tailed lemurs, and wild boars. Its petting zoo has goats, emus, white-tailed deer, pigs, llamas, and other animals.
16. Bishop Castle, Colorado
Address: 12705 CO-165, Rye, CO 81069, United States
Bishop Castle was named after its builder, Jim Bishop. This one-man project has become a roadside attraction, forcing travelers to stop by to catch a glimpse. It is located along State Highway 165 in the West Mountains of Southern Colorado.
The building of this castle began in 1969. Jim Bishop bought the land for just $450 when he was 15. His intention was to build a family home. But when he laid rocks around the property, his neighbors thought it was a castle, and Jib bought the idea.
A fire broke out inside the castle in 2018, burning down a gift shop and a guest house. However, it still remains one of the roadside attractions in the United States. It reopened to the public and is still being renovated with funds from volunteers.
See Related: Best Things to do in Bemidji, Minnesota
17. Haines Shoe House, Pennsylvania
Address: 197 Shoe House Rd, York, PA 17406, United States
As the name suggests, Haines Shoe House is a shoe-shaped house located in Hellam Township, Pennsylvania. It is on the Shoe House Road, near the Lincoln Highway.
The house was built by a shoe salesman, Mahlon Haines, in 1948. As a shoe seller, he intended the building to act as a billboard to advertise his business. The entire structure stands 25 feet tall and has five stories. It was initially home to couples who rented it. But now, it has remained a roadside attraction open to the public.
The shoe house consisted of a living room located in the toe, two bedrooms in the ankle, a kitchen in the heel, and an ice cream shop on the instep!
18. World’s Tallest Thermometer, California
Address: 72157 Baker Blvd, Baker, CA 92309, United States
The world’s largest thermometer is a landmark in Baker, California. You may wonder what the temperature reading on this instrument is and what it means. Well, there is a history behind it.
The world’s tallest thermometer reads 134 °F (57 °C). This reading is from historic temperatures recorded on July 10, 1913, in the Death Valley. The statue stands 134 feet tall and weighs about 76,000 pounds. You can only imagine the loads of concrete that went into its construction! But what is the history behind it?
The thermometer was built in 1991 by Young Electric Sign Company for Willis Herron. Willis was a businessman who paid a fortune for it to be built close to his restaurant.
The latest development near the world’s largest thermometer is the fast charge station for electric cars behind it. The station is visible to travelers on Interstate 15, which gives another reason to stop by.
19. R.W. Lindholm Service Station, Minnesota
Address: 202 Cloquet Avenue, Cloquet, Minnesota
R.W. Lindholm Service Station is a gas station and a one-of-a-kind built by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1958. Surprisingly, the gas station is still functional. Apart from stopping by to marvel at its unique design, you can also fill your tank for the journey ahead.
The service station was designed by the same person who designed the station owner’s house in 1952. Upon seeing his expertise and experience in the oil industry, Wright asked Lindholm to do the same for the gas station. He seized the opportunity and made the service station a masterpiece. It cost about four times more than similar structures of that time.
The service station is still serving the residents of Broadacre City. However, it was the only Wright plan for the city implemented in his lifetime. He had bigger plans for Cloquet, unfortunately, he died before they could be realized.
His one and only implemented gas station design is another gas station in Buffalo, New York, completed in 2013.
20. Salvation Mountain, California
Address: Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233, United States
Salvation Mountain is a hillside visionary environment located in the California Desert area of Imperial Country. It was built by a local resident, Leonard Knight.
Salvation Mountain is identified by adobe bricks, discarded tires and windows, automobile parts, and gallons of paint that make up its features. It has many writings from the bible and other Christian phrases, contrary to the Sinner’s Prayer philosophy behind it.
The Folk Art Society of America declared it worthy of preservation and protection. That is currently underway as the Salvation Mountain is under threat of extreme desert climate.
Salvation Mountain may be famous today for its appearance in the media. You can also stop by to view the marvelous work done by Knight.
May his soul rest in peace.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Boston, Massachusetts
21. Lucy the Elephant, New Jersey
Address: 9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402, United States
Lucy the Elephant of Margate is a six-story elephant-shaped structure and is a marvelous piece of art with a rich history.
It was constructed by James Lafferty in Margate City by piecing together wood and tin sheets in 1881. It is located just a few miles from Atlantic City.
Lucy the Elephant was initially called Elephant Bazaar. James built it to promote sales in real estate and attract tourists. It has lived to that reputation until today.
Lucy the Elephant is currently the oldest surviving bespoke roadside tourist attraction in America!
22. Secret Caverns, New York
Address: 671 Caverns Rd, Howes Cave, NY 12092, United States
If you have a minute to spare near Howes Cave New York, you can branch out to explore the mysterious caves of Secret Caverns.
The roadside attraction site is (almost) 100% underground, as the billboard states.
Secret Caverns is a privately-owned attraction marked by a hokey-looking building on the surface.
You can easily misjudge what you will see inside the cave. There is nothing much from the outside apart from the kitschy building near the Howes Cave. But as they say, never judge something by its outward appearance!
When you enter through the door, you will discover a 100-foot-long waterfall and other natural wonders that only exist at Secret Caverns!
It reveals some stunning natural features that you might have learned in your geology class. There is also an added bonus of vintage arcade games that can keep you engaged if you are not in a rush!
23. Farnham Fantasy Farm, West Virginia
Address: 14633 Winchester Grade Rd, Unger, WV 25411, USA
You have not seen anything like Farnham Fantasy Farm – trust me. It is one of the weirdest roadside attractions we have on this list.
What gets people even more confused is the “residents” of the farm. They definitely don’t look like farm produce or workers. But the scene created is certainly heartwarming.
The farm has fiberglass statues of famous figures such as Yogi Bear and Simpsons and many more. They were built locally or collected from different parts of the country.
Farnham Fantasy Farm is located in Unger, West Virginia. The property is owned by George Farnham, the man believed to be behind some of the giant statues.
24. Flatwoods Monster Sign, West Virginia
Address: Centralia, WV 26601
You’ve likely heard many ghost and monster stories since childhood. Well, the residents of Flatwoods have accounts of a monster that once terrorized the town!
Witnesses tell their accounts of the horrific experience in 1952. A light showed from the sky and seemed like falling down. They investigated what happened and found what they described as a monster with bloodshot eyes and a green outfit that glowed! Out of terror, they ran for their lives and told their stories to everyone they could meet.
The following day, the ghost was reported when it terrorized a woman, her children, and a dog in their car. It then disappeared, never to be seen again.
The story made headlines in the papers, and an investigation was launched but with inconclusive findings. Today, a Flatwoods Monster Signpost devoted to the creature still stands.
25. Rock City, Georgia
Address: 1400 Patten Rd, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750, United States
Our countdown of the best roadside attractions in America is still on, and we now present the Rock City. Rock City is one of the popular tourist destinations in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
It was opened in May 1931. It initially received very few visitors, but after a well received “See Rock City” barn advertisement in 1935, the location became a top tourist site in Georgia.
One of the selling points used in the advertisements was that you could see seven states from one point in Rock City. That claim is difficult to prove to date because of the increasing air pollution that causes visibility problems.
You’ll also have a chance to marvel at the High Falls of the Lookout Mountain. This manmade waterfall adds character to the Rock City Gardens.
26. The Mystery Hole, West Virginia
Address: 16724 Midland Trail, Ansted, WV 25812, United States
Mystery Hole is located in Amsted. The closest attraction site is Hawks Nest State Park. The roadside attraction site was founded by Donald Wilson in 1973.
Mystery Hole is best known as a gravity-defying wonder. This is one of the places you can go to if you want to prove Isaac Newton wrong!
Mystery Hole consists of a series of underground rooms. The walls and floors are all designed to depict the gravity-defying aspect. Even guided tours like this place because they want to prove to people that gravity does not work there.
If you are inside the cave, water seems to flow upwards, which is a wonder one might never comprehend. Your guide may further prove it by sitting on a chair that seems to float in the air!
27. Hood Milk Bottle, Massachusetts
Address: 306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210, United States
Hood Milk Bottle stands 40 feet tall next to the Boston Children’s Museum. Its rich history dates back to 1933 when it was built as a roadside stand for ice cream maker Arthur Gagner. He used it to lure travelers on Route 44 to buy his ice cream. Since then, many vendors have used it.
Hood Milk Bottle is one of the landmarks in the region and the best roadside attraction. Its recent renovation makes it even more attractive to travelers.
What is the oldest roadside attraction?
Lucy the Elephant is arguably the oldest surviving roadside attraction in the United States. The statue was constructed in 1881. This wooden structure has defied all odds and has become one of the leading tourist destinations in the US.
What is the largest roadside attraction?
Most of the United States‘ roadside attractions are the largest worldwide. The country has the world’s largest ketchup bottle, rollerskate, thermometer, biggest ball of twine, dinosaurs, Jolley the Green Giant, etc.
Is there an app for roadside attractions?
Yes. Many roadside attraction apps can show you nearby natural wonders, museums, oddities, statues, etc. TripBucket is one of the most popular and commonly used to help locate roadside attractions worldwide.
What is the most beautiful place in the world to visit?
The Grand Canyon is arguably the most beautiful place to visit for its spectacular scenery. This vast geological wonderland extends 18 miles across and one mile deep. It also displays colorful rock layers and one-of-a-kind vistas.
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