And while you’re still in the planning phase, consider allowing extra time for some sightseeing. It’s no fun to stay on the beaten path all the time, and there are unique places to visit in every state.
If you need inspiration, check out these quaint, quirky and downright quizzical roadside attractions. There’s sure to be something that piques your sense of adventure.
Image Credit: cm195902 / Flickr.
Alabama: Boll Weevil Monument in Enterprise
In 1915, the Mexican boll weevil destroyed Alabama’s cotton crops. Dedicated in 1919, this monument serves as a reminder of the citizens’ ability to overcome adversity. Still, it’s not every day you see a bug topping off a monument.
Image Credit: milst1 / Flickr.
Alaska: Knotty Shop Mosquito in Salcha
The mosquito is known as Alaska’s unofficial state bird (the state boasts 35 species of the insect), so this larger-than-life woodcarving at a unique gift shop south of Fairbanks is appropriate. We do not want to think about how much a bite from a mosquito this size would itch.
Image Credit: Arthur Chapman / Flickr.
Arizona: Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch in Picacho
In the desert between Tucson and Phoenix, off busy Interstate 10, you can pull over, stretch your legs and feed the ostriches, as well as the goats, deer and a few other critters. What do ostriches eat, you ask? While they typically eat roots, leaves and seeds, they are technically omnivores and have been known to eat small rodents, lizards, snakes and bugs.
Image Credit: Paulimus / Flickr.
Arkansas: Popeye Statue in Alma
Known as the Spinach Capital of the World, Alma celebrates with an annual Spinach Festival at which Popeye the Sailor would feel right at home. Toot toot!
Image Credit: Brandon Rush / Wikimedia Commons.
California: Fallen Star at UCSD in San Diego
This permanent art installation at the University of California’s San Diego campus looks as though a little house fell from the sky (The Wizard of Oz-style) and landed on the roof of the school’s engineering building. Visitors can see a rooftop garden and panoramic views from the inside. Unexpected, right?
Image Credit: Sam Beebe / Flickr.
Colorado: World’s Largest Sticker Ball in Longmont
The ball, which is named Saul (naturally), entered the Guinness World Record book as the Largest Sticker Ball on National Sticker Day on Jan. 13, 2016. Saul can be found at Sticker Giant, a sticker company that specializes in custom stickers, in Longmont, which is about 35 miles north of Denver.
Image Credit: teamstickergiant / Flickr.
Connecticut: Giant Frogs on Spools in Windham
In June of 1754, the people of Windham awoke to spooky sounds coming from the outskirts of town. Brave armed men began shooting toward the noise, only to find the landscape littered with frogs come morning. This “we can laugh about this later” incident is commemorated with giant frog statues set on a bridge in town. While the frogs serve as a reminder, the spools speak to the area’s history in textiles.
Image Credit: cometstarmoon / Flickr.
Delaware: Miles the Monster in Dover
This concrete giant
welcomes (or scares off?) visitors to the Dover International Speedway, home of the “Monster Mile.” The speedway has hosted all types of cars races since it opened in the late ’60s, and Miles joined the scene in 2000.
Image Credit: Ricky / Flickr.
Florida: Betsy the Lobster in Islamorada
The spiny lobster is a popular Florida Keys species, which, unlike its Maine cousin, has no claws. A sculptor crafted the oversized Betsy for a restaurant that went under before he could complete her, so she now sits for everyone to see alongside the Overseas Highway.
Image Credit: BBM Explorer / Flickr.
Georgia: Doll’s Head Trail in Atlanta
In an attempt to clean up trash left by flooding and people littering, this artsy and somewhat creepy trail came to be. Cast-offs have become art that intermingle with nature and stunning views in Constitution Lakes Park southeast of Atlanta.
Image Credit: Marcus O. Bst / Flickr.
Hawaii: World’s Largest Aloha Shirt in Honolulu
This size 400 XL shirt hangs at the Hilo Hattie store on Nimitz Highway in Honolulu. It took 26 yards of fabric to create the shirt, which could cover 13 sumo wrestlers.
Image Credit: jdnx / Flickr.
Idaho: Statue of Liberty in Sandpoint
There is more to Idaho than spuds. Although not as tall as the real Lady Liberty, this replica of the famous statue stands attention at Idaho’s largest lake, Lake Pend Oreille, in the northwestern part of the state.
Image Credit: Dan Price / Flickr.
Illinois: Leaning Tower of Niles in Niles
While the tilt of the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy was unintentional, this half-size replica’s lean was entirely planned.
The Leaning Tower of Niles, as it’s called, was built in the 1930s as part of a park for employees of the Ilg Hot Air Electric Ventilating Company. The structure still stands today on grounds that have become a YMCA.
Image Credit: Ken Lund / Flickr.
Indiana: Giant Leg Sundial in Lake Village
Sun Aura is a clothing-optional campground near the Kankakee River in the northwest part of the state. This leggy timepiece welcomes visitors to the resort.
Image Credit: Sun Aura Resort / Facebook.
Iowa: Statue of Isis in West Branch
This bronze, 7-foot-tall, veiled statue named for the Egyptian goddess of life (not the terrorist group of the same name) was given to Herbert Hoover by the people of Belgium as a token of thanks following WWI.
Image Credit: Teemu008 / Flickr.
Kansas: World’s Largest Souvenir Plate in Lucas
Image Credit: Jody Halsted / Flickr.
Kentucky: Colonel Sanders Wax Statue in Louisville
Tourists who stop by the Louisville Visitor Center can snap photos with the KFC founder … or at least his lifelike wax model. He’s even holding a wax bucket of chicken.
Image Credit: jmdillree / Flickr.
Louisiana: Abita Mystery House in Abita Springs
Also known as the UCM (you-see-em) Museum, this diminutive building stores thousands of homemade inventions, folk art pieces and other found items. Be sure to check out the Swamp Ghost and the Bassigator!
Image Credit: Infrogmation / Flickr.
Maine: Big Easy Chair in Kittery
After vandals damaged the popular 12-foot wooden and fiberglass sculpture, the community rallied to repair and rebuild the popular landmark. Why not stop and sit for a spell?
Image Credit: Dougtone / Flickr.
Maryland: RCA Dog in Baltimore
You probably recognize “Nipper the Dog” and his cocked head from Radio Corporation of America (RCA) ads. The 18-foot statue originally sat atop the RCA building in the 1950s. Today, he and his phonograph sit atop the Maryland Historial Society Museum in Baltimore.
Image Credit: cdsessums / Flickr.
Massachusetts: Huge Baby Heads in Boston
A pair of 10-foot, bronze baby heads — one awake and one seemingly asleep — flanks a fountain on the lawn of the Fenway entrance lawn of the Museum of Fine Arts, symbolizing day and night.
Image Credit: o palsson / Flickr.
Michigan: Einstein Playing Frisbee in Kalamazoo
Even geniuses need breaks. This welded steel statue is installed near the main entrance to the building that houses the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences building on Western Michigan University’s Parkview Campus.
Image Credit: Vinny Gragg / Flickr.
Minnesota: Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth
Image Credit: Dougtone / Flickr.
Mississippi: Devil’s Crossroads in Clarksdale
Legend has it that on this spot, aspiring bluesman Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil himself in exchange for guitar-playing fortune and fame. The talented musician died mysteriously at the age of 27.
Image Credit: Mr. Littlehand / Flickr.
Missouri: The Awakening in Chesterfield
This partially-buried, massive aluminum sculpture appears to be a metal giant arising from the earth. Measuring 70 feet in length and 17 feet at its tallest point, the sculpture is located near the city’s Central Park.
Image Credit: Vironevaeh / Flickr.
Montana: The Vortex and House of Mystery in Columbia Falls
Some say the Montana Vortex is a quantum or gravitational anomaly defying the laws of physics and nature. Others state that it is a hoax using optical illusions. You can decide for yourself when you visit.
Image Credit: sporst / Flickr.
Nebraska: Carhenge in Alliance
A modern replica of Stonehenge, Carhenge is actually a circle of cars painted stone-gray located in northwestern Nebraksa. Check out the adjacent Car Art Preserve while you’re there.
Image Credit: cm195902 / Flickr.
Nevada: Goldwell Open Air Museum near Rhyolite
Advertised as “Art where it seemingly shouldn’t be,” this 15-acre outdoor art installation beckons visitors near the ghost town of Rhyolite. It is a project of an artist residency program in the nearby Red Barn Art Center.
Image Credit: gamillos / Flickr.
New Hampshire: USS Albacore in Portsmouth
Originally a research submarine designed by the Navy in the ’50s to test experimental features, the USS Albacore is now a museum. As you take a self-guided tour, recorded audio tells you about features and life aboard a sub.
Image Credit: tvanhoosear / Flickr.
New Jersey: World’s Largest Light Bulb in Edison
Situated on a 36-acre state park, the 117-foot Edison Memorial Tower is topped with a 13-foot,-8-inch-high light bulb made of Pyrex glass segments. Visitors are encouraged to visit the tower and museum.
Image Credit: Adam J Skowronski / Flickr.
New Mexico: Roadrunner in Las Cruces
On a hill overlooking Interstate 10 stands a 20-foot-tall bird made from scrap metal and other castoffs salvaged from the city dump. In fact, its belly is mostly comprised of old white shoes.
Image Credit: dherrera_96 / Flickr.
New York: Cross Island Chapel in Oneida
There are some tiny churches across the country, but this one takes the cake. With a floor area of less than 30 square feet, the chapel sits on a wooden deck in the middle of a pond and seats only two people. Naturally, this tiny chapel is a draw for those visiting upstate New York
Image Credit: Carolyn / Flickr.
North Carolina: The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park in Wilson
An eye-catching marriage of science and art awaits at this unusual roadside attraction. Nearing retirement, farm machinery repairman Vollis Simpson began constructing the animated 40-feet, 50-inches-tall sculptures and continued until his death at the age of 94. His field is now a park and museum.
Image Credit: Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr.
North Dakota: The Enchanted Highway in Regent
This 32-mile stretch of highway is guarded by multiple massive sculptures made of scrap metal. Designs include deer, pheasants and even Teddy Roosevelt.
Image Credit: minnemom / Flickr.
Ohio: Longaberger Basket Building in Newark
This seven-story building shaped like a picnic basket was originally the headquarters for the famous basket-making company. With the Longaberger company in tough form (it officially shut down in May 2018), the building had been on the market for a few years and finally sold to a new owner in January 2018. The new owner plans to keep the building’s iconic exterior.
Image Credit: Longaberger/Facebook.
Oklahoma: Bumblebee and Optimus Prime in Stillwater
A Stillwater body shop has a unique form of security: a life-size Transformer replica stands at each of its two locations.
Image Credit: visitstillwater.org.
Oregon: Harvey the Rabbit in Aloha
This bug-eyed bunny has been the trademark attraction of Harvey Marine for decades. Whether he encourages you to buy a boat or gives you nightmares is a matter of perspective.
Image Credit: Tualatin Valley / Flickr.
Pennsylvania: Oversized Quarter near Everett
Located on the lawn of the Down River Golf Course east of Everett on Lincoln Highway stands a massive quarter. Students at the Bedford County Technical Center made the coin, which weighs nearly one ton.
Image Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM / Flickr.
Rhode Island: Gun Totem in Providence
Artist Boris Bally created this concrete pillar using 2,000 guns, which were part of a government gun buy-back program.
Image Credit: dippy_duck / flickr.
South Carolina: Man Walking Alligator on Hilton Head Island
The sculpted man walking with an alligator on Pope Avenue is Sea Pines founder Charles E. Fraser, who was known for his conservation efforts when developing the island.
Image Credit: HHIslandLife / Facebook.
South Dakota: Porter Sculpture Park in Montrose
This little-known roadside attraction boasts the works of self-taught South Dakota native Wayne Porter. The 50+ sculptures are completely touchable and the park is pet-friendly as well.
Image Credit: newlow / Flickr.
Tennessee: Titanic Replica in Pigeon Forge
If you have ever wanted to reenact Jack’s “I’m the king of the world!” scene from the movie, this may be your chance. This tour-able museum features artifacts from the film and much more.
Image Credit: Madison Berndt / Flickr.
Texas: Eiffel Tower Replica in Paris
If you have always dreamed of standing in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower but France is out of your budget, just head to Northeast Texas. The 65-foot tower has a red, 10-foot-diameter cowboy hat on top, y’all.
Image Credit: Drriss & Marrionn / Flickr.
Utah: Up House in Herriman
You will be tempted to go buy a big bunch of helium balloons when you see this adorable home near Salt Lake City. While tours are no longer available, the owners are happy for visitors to shoot selfies from outside.
Image Credit: brettneilson / Flickr.
Vermont: Granite Zipper in Barre
This public art installation uses the area’s own famous stone, known as Barre gray granite. The 74-foot-long sculpture makes it seem as though the earth is opening.
Image Credit: Kevin Stewart / Flickr.
Virginia: Big Cootie Bug at Shenandoah Caverns
There are numerous reasons to visit the caverns, but even if you don’t have time for the complete tour, you can stop by and see the over-sized Cootie bug.
Image Credit: RigbyMel / Flickr.
Washington: Marsh’s Free Museum in Long Beach
In operation since 1935, this “curiosity shop” boasts the world’s best saltwater taffy, as well as Jake the Alligator Man and many other oddities.
Image Credit: marshsfreemuseum.com.
West Virginia: Mothman in Point Pleasant
The story goes that back in 1966, men in black hunted a flying, red-eyed creature in this small West Virginia town. Visit the Mothman statue and nearby museum to find out more about this mysterious occurrence.
Image Credit: puroticorico / Flickr.
Wisconsin: Fred Smith’s Concrete Park in Phillips
After retiring from his job as a lumberjack back in 1948, Fred Smith began making concrete sculptures until his death in 1964. The Northern Wisconsin park displaying his work is open for self-guided tours year-round.
Image Credit: Dakota Kingfisher / Flickr.
Wyoming: Elkhorn Arch in Afton
A unique archway stretches across Main Street in downtown Afton. Constructed in 1958, it contains more than 3,000 wapiti antlers.
Image Credit: Andrew Kalat / Flickr.
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