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Sometimes weird is good. After all, how boring would life be if everything was “normal?” The U.S. has quite a few oddities, many of which are best explored on a road trip. Summer is the perfect time to get behind the wheel, turn up the tunes, and discover things you never knew existed. After a thorough search of roadside attractions in every state, including some personally stumbled upon, this list of the most fun and unusual roadside attractions provides an easy way to plan your own memorable adventure.
Church With a Rock In It - Mentone
Set atop Lookout Mountain near the town of Mentone, Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel is known as the “Church With a Rock In It.” Though it didn’t land a spot on our world’s most beautiful churches list, this unique chapel is fused with a huge boulder that serves as a beautiful backdrop for the pulpit. It was constructed in 1937 and not long after, the man responsible, Col. Milford Howard, who was inspired by a chapel at a Los Angeles cemetery where his wife Sallie was buried, passed away. His ashes were placed inside the rock.
The Cat Mayor - Talkeetna
The unincorporated community of Talkeetna (one of Alaska’s best places to visit) doesn’t have an elected mayor, but it does have a rather interesting honorary mayor, a cat. A feline mayor has served citizens here since 1997, starting with Mayor Stubbs, named for its stubbed tail. After reigning for two decades, Stubbs died in 2017 and passed the torch on to his successor, Denali. Visitors can meet the mayor at Nagley’s Store, a historic general store in the center of town.
Hobo Joe - Buckeye
If you’re traveling through Buckeye, the westernmost suburb of the Phoenix Metro Area, you’ll see Hobo Joe, a 25-foot-tall statue and historical landmark that was once the icon of an Arizona restaurant chain. He was restored and moved to his current location in 2020. Carrying a copy of the Wall Street Journal, a candy cane, and a banana in his pocket, he’s said to be a well-traveled man, and he even has his own Facebook page.
Alligator Farm & Merman - Hot Springs
If you’re heading down Whittington Avenue in Hot Springs, you’ll run across this alligator farm, which not only has alligators and a petting zoo but a room with some rather bizarre artifacts. The Merman is what makes this place weird, and it’s something that must be seen to be believed. While you’re here, you can watch an alligator food show, which takes place at noon on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from May 1 through October 15. After, if you still have time to spare, you can check out some of these other fun things to do in Hot Springs.
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree - Leggett
Estimated to be over 2,400 years old, the famous Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree has been attracting road-trippers since it was carved out in 1937. Multiple generations have come to capture photos of their cars squeezing through the six-foot-wide, seven-foot-tall tunnel. Many are in disbelief, assuming that the sign beckoning them to do so is simply a scam or that the tree with a big hole must have fallen long ago. Yet, it’s still very much alive after 85 years of countless cars traveling through. If you happen to be road-tripping with your kids through California, here are a few more kid-friendly stops worth making along the way.
Mike the Headless Chicken - Fruita
Mike the Headless Chicken was a rooster, but he was very real, living a remarkable 18 months after a farmer chopped his head off. He even went on a national tour after being featured in Life magazine. A 5-foot-high metal headless statue was erected to pay homage to Fruita’s celebrity. The statue is located near Circle Park in Fruita, which is also home to the Colorado National Monument – a perfect add-on to any Colorado road trip.
North America's Tallest Elevator Test Tower - Bristol
As you approach Lake Compounce in Bristol (one of the best places to visit in Connecticut), there’s a rather curious sight – a 38-story windowless skyscraper all on its own. It stands out from the tree-filled landscape, clearly visible from surrounding roads at nearly 400 feet high, leaving many to wonder what in the world it is. It’s an elevator test tower, sending elevator cars plummeting to ensure yours won’t.
Monster Monument at Victory Plaza - Dover
The world’s largest stone monster can be seen from Delaware Route 1 in Dover, a must-visit spot in Delaware best known for its NASCAR racing, casinos, and Amish community. If you take a quick detour, you can get a closer look at this giant roadside, car-smashing creature that’s a mascot of Dover Motor Speedway dedicated in 2008.
Monument of States - Kissimmee
This weird, yet cool, 50-foot tower on Monument Avenue in downtown Kissimmee displays a rock from every state in the continental U.S. It was donated by volunteers and created to be a patriotic symbol of the unity of the states after the attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War. Today, it’s one of a few retro spots in Florida that will take you back in time.
Old Car City USA - White
The world’s largest known classic car junkyard was originally a general store that operated during the Great Depression. Eventually, it became a cemetery for old automobiles. In 2009, owner Dean Lewis who grew up on the property, transformed it into a tourist attraction to share his love of decomposing vehicles.
Roadside Steam Vent - Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
Traveling along Crater Rim Drive in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, you’ll see steam rising from the road. It’s an odd but fascinating attraction, with some even pulling over for a quick “steam facial.”
Dog Bark Park - Cottonwood
Driving through the small town of Cottonwood in rural Idaho, you’re likely to spot Sweet Willy, a giant beagle. This colossal dog actually serves as a unique B&B, created for the owners to showcase their love of canines and art. You can always stop for a photo even if you don’t stay the night.
Henry's Rabbit Ranch - Staunton
As you make your way down Route 66, considered to be one of the best road trips in the world, you’ve got to make time for a stop at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. Created by Richard Henry, a man with a passion for rabbits, this bizarre place not only has actual bunny rabbits but VWs and all sorts of collectibles.
Martini-Loving Pink Elephant - Fortville
While this weird pachyderm will probably make you think you’ve been drinking yourself, it is very real. And hopefully, you’re sober as you drive along US 36 in Fortville. Located about 30 minutes northeast of Indianapolis, the enormous pink elephant can be seen wearing glasses while sipping a martini. It stands just outside Elite Beverages, a local liquor store.
Volkswagen Beetle Spider - Avoca
A quick detour from I-80 will bring you to the Avoca Spider Bug, a creepy yet fascinating piece of art sitting alongside a rural country road. It’s made up of an actual vintage VW bug, sitting atop eight metal spider legs. Many like to enjoy a break from the endless monotony of corn fields, stopping for a photo-op.
The Big Well - Greensburg
The world’s largest hand-dug well, The Big Well is 109 feet deep and 32 feet wide, painstakingly dug by hand in the 1880s to provide water to the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads. You can learn more about the historic well at the Big Well Museum.
Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland Museum - Calvert City
Hillbilly Garden is what it sounds like, with displays like Jack and the Beanstalk, an automobile jack nailed to a green-painted tree, and Technologically Impaired, an old computer monitor with three empty beer bottles. The owner, who says he was raised on “Hee Haw,” had planned on creating an indoor Toyland attraction with model trains, but it ultimately became a place for junk art. You’ll find it by following the instructions on signs nailed to trees along US 68 in Calvert City.
Abita Mystery House - Abita Springs
Located in the heart of Abita Springs (a Louisianna must-visit town), the Abita Mystery House is accessed via a 1930s gas station. For a few bucks, you can explore inside, where all sorts of monstrous freaks are displayed like the Quackigator and Bassigator, along with a flying saucer that’s crashed into an Airstream trailer and a house covered with thousands of glass shards.
Desert of Maine - Freeport
Maine is known for its breathtaking coast and dense forest. But desert? The Desert of Maine is an odd tourist attraction with 40 acres of glacial sand dunes surrounded by coastal forest, yet one of the best things to do in Freeport. There are even a few camels thrown in. Of course, it’s not a true desert as it gets quite a bit of precipitation.
The Unfinished Ark - Frostburg
A local pastor claimed Jesus told him to build an ark, so he did, or at least he started it. The structure was never finished, and it’s been sitting that way for decades, attracting the eye of many passersby along Interstate 68 in Frostburg, MD.
The Paper House - Rockport
Set along the rocky coast of Cape Ann, one of Massachusetts’ most charming small towns, the Paper House was a summer cottage built using newspapers. He had quite a few of them himself, but when he told friends and neighbors about his plans, they donated theirs to his supply. After its completion in 1922, some 100,000 sheets of newsprints had been used. Every paper surface was sealed beneath a waterproof coat of marine varnish, and the outer layers were chosen based on the interest of their headlines. Even furniture and other items were made of it too.
Nun Doll Museum at National Shrine Of The Cross In The Woods - Indian River
The Nun Doll Museum overshadows the beauty of the nearby National Shrine Of The Cross In The Woods. The rather odd institution displays more than 525 dolls and 20 mannequins, all wearing nun habits and other traditional religious garb, collected over decades to preserve Catholic heritage.
Largest Ball of Twine - Darwin
While there is more than one massive ball of twine, this one is the largest wound by one man. You can find this giant twine ball (that even captivated the attention of “Weird Al” Yankovic and inspired one of his songs) while passing through the town of Darwin.
The Frog Farm - Fayette
A dedication to frogs, the Frog Farm isn’t your usual farm, rather it’s made up of life-size folk art frogs that are positioned in various scenes doing things that usually only humans do, created by artist Louise Cadney Coleman.
BoatHenge - Easley
A nautical version of Stonehenge, BoatHenge is a unique work of lawn art that sits along the Missouri River in Easley. Not exactly the best imitation of one of the English Countryside’s most famous sites, the boats are stuck into the ground and standing up at Coopers Landing campground.
Giant Talking Penguin - Cut Bank
If you’re planning a visit to check out all of the things to do in Glacier National Park, you might want to visit Cut Bank too, where a 27-foot-tall penguin will welcome you. It celebrates the town’s claim that it’s the country’s coldest spot, although that doesn’t seem to be accurate, as the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state was 70 degrees below zero at Rogers Pass in 1954. The penguin, built in 1989 by Ron Gustafson, makes for a fun photo-op. When it’s working, it can even talk.
Carhenge - Alliance
One of several mimics of England’s Stonehenge, Carhenge is made up of 39 vintage cars covered with gray spray paint. This bizarre tourist attraction was created by geologist Jim Reinders who spent time studying the structure of the real Stonehenge. He decided to build it as a memorial to his father, who once lived on the farm where the site now stands. A visitor center was even added, with tens of thousands stopping by to see it every year.
The New Middlegate Shoe Trees - Middlegate
A beloved cottonwood served as a bizarre roadside attraction for many years, providing a fun look for those traveling the remote U.S. 50, known as the “Loneliest Road in America.” Unfortunately, a vandal topped it over, leaving many depressed as they passed what was once such a unique distraction. The good news is that new trees have taken its place. You can now see two trees with shoes hanging on the branches about 60 feet from where the original one was.
Yankee Siege Catapult - Greenfield
If you’re driving down the road through Greenfield, you’re likely to be taken aback when you see what looks like a huge medieval weapon ready to take out a castle wall. But the Yankee Siege Catapult was made for fun – watching pumpkins hurl through the air flying as far as they can possibly go before crashing to the ground with a splat.
Lucy the Elephant - Margate City
Lucy is a massive mammoth that was built in 1881 as a roadside attraction before the first true, modern automobile was even patented. Just imagine those horses doing a double-take. An iconic Jersey Shore attraction, she’s located along Atlantic Avenue and open to the public for interior tours of her six stories.
Roadrunner Sculpture - Las Cruces
The Roadrunner sculpture was originally made to encourage recycling, located at a rest area off Interstate 10 near exit 135 in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area, one of the state’s top destinations. You can’t miss it as it stands 20 feet tall and has Volkswagen headlights for eyes.
Shark Girl - Buffalo
The Shark Girl is definitely strange, but she’s also become a very popular Buffalo tourist attraction, with many stopping by for a selfie. Located at Canalside in Buffalo, the half-girl, half-shark fiberglass artwork was created in 2013 by artist Casey Riordan Millard, symbolizing the transformation of the western terminus of the Erie Canal on the Buffalo River.
Reminiscing, an Ode to Marilyn Monroe's Legs - Henderson
When it was created in 2005 by backhoe operator Ricky Pearce, Reminiscing, with its 40-foot-long pair of women’s legs spread suggestively, was not taken well by Henderson’s residents. But, as it was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe, eventually, art won out, and the piece still stands today. If you want a closer look, you can walk beneath the arch between the concrete legs that read “Reminiscing.”
The Enchanted Highway - Gladstone to Regent
Between Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and the small town of Regent 32 miles away, passersby will see all sorts of statues made from scrap metal. There isn’t a cohesive theme, and some are rather odd, like the eyes shaped out of geese. There are also giant grasshoppers, birds, and families of fish. Perhaps they were meant to make the drive through the flat terrain a little less boring.
World's Largest Basket - Newark
The former headquarters of the Longaberger Company along State Route 16 is a seven-story building that serves as the world’s largest basket. It’s a very unique piece of architecture that remained even after the organization shut down.
Winganon Space Capsule - Oologah
More than a few who’ve spotted this capsule were led to believe it somehow came from a NASA space mission. It was actually a cement fixer that fell off a truck in 1959 during a crash. As it was too heavy to haul away, it was simply left on the side of the road. Local residents and artists started painting it over the years, and now it looks just like a space capsule.
Cave Man Sculpture - Grants Pass
As you drive through Grants Pass in southern Oregon, you’ll be met by an amazing 16-foot-tall caveman sculpture that sits on an eight-foot base. He’s linked to the Caveman Club, which local businessmen formed to promote the area. The popularity of cavemen have inspired many tributes, including this cool yet bizarre attraction that’s been here for more than a half-century now.
Space Acorn - Kecksburg
In 1965, a fiery object rocketed across the night sky before crashing into the woods near rural Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community in Mount Pleasant Township. A quarter-century later, the TV series Unsolved Mysteries came to the town to make a docu-drama about the event and built a life-size replica of the UFO, known as the Space Acorn, to use for filming. The bizarre object was left behind, and today it remains a quirky roadside attraction, the perfect complement to the annual UFO festival held here.
World's Largest Bug - Providence
Providence is said to be home to the world’s largest bug, a termite 928 times the size of a real one. It belongs to a pest control company called Big Blue Bug Solutions and stands on its roof, visible from Interstate 95. If you have the time, take the exit into Providence and check out these fun things to do.
UFO Welcome Center - Bowman
A tourist curiosity in the backyard of a local resident’s home, the UFO Welcome Center was built by Jody Pendarvis, who decided that any aliens who touched down in the area needed a welcoming spot to rest upon arrival. The 42-foot-wide flying saucer is made of plastic, fiberglass, and wood.
Wall Drug - Wall
Wall Drug is one of the most famous roadside attractions in the country and a must-stop for any visit to (or through) South Dakota. It all began with a promotion as the store decided to advertise by giving away free ice water to travelers heading to Mount Rushmore. While others did the same, they weren’t good at promoting it. Eventually, there were signs proclaiming “Wall Drug Or Bust” in every state, and not long afterward, they were placed at places around the world, from busses in London to the Taj Mahal in India. The giant Jackelope outside the store on Main Street in Wall has become a must-do photo-op.
Backyard Terrors Dinosaur Park - Bluff City
Bluff City resident Chris Kastner created a dinosaur park in his own backyard. The six wooded acres are filled with more than 70 life-size dinosaurs that were designed for fun rather than profit. The park still runs entirely on donations.
Beer Can House - Houston
Before 1968, the Beer Can House was an unassuming abode on the west side of Houston. After a man became bored with his retirement, he started decorating his patio with odds and ends. Eventually, he replaced his lawn with them before turning to his house. Thousands of beer cans were flattened for aluminum siding, and over nearly 20 years, 39,000 were incorporated throughout the home. After he died in 1988, his wife started welcoming visitors to see it and it became one of the things to do in Houston. When she passed, it was purchased by The Orange Show Foundation, which opened it to the public in 2008.
Hole N" The Rock - Monticello
There’s a 5,000-square-foot home carved directly into a rock along Highway 191 in Utah, and everyone is welcome to visit. It was hand-carved in the 1940s, taking over a decade of drilling and blasting to complete. Today it’s a popular roadside attraction with giant white painted letters calling travelers along Highway 191 to visit the “Hole N” The Rock.”
World's Tallest Filing Cabinet - Burlington
A public art installation, the “World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet” is a structure stacked 38 drawers tall, made up of real filing cabinets. While it’s unknown whether that claim is true, there’s no doubt that it’s rather bizarre and a can’t-miss thing to do in Burlington. After 20 years out in the elements, it’s perhaps even more bizarre than ever, with some of the drawers partially open and being used as bird nests.
The Arm of Stonewall Jackson - Fredericksburg
Did you know that Stonewall Jackson’s arm has its own gravesite in one of Virginia’s most charming towns? Apparently, during the Battle of Chancellorsville, one of his own men accidentally fired at his arm. Due to the incident, the National Park Service preserved the site in Fredericksburg, although the arm was never actually found.
Rosie the Walking Fish - Sekiu
It’s impossible not to do a double-take when you see Rosie, a fish walking while wearing tennis shoes, a skirt, and a pink bra. She’s the mascot of Sekiu, a small town on the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula. She’s right next to the welcome sign along Highway 112.
Farnham Fantasy Farm - Unger
George and Pam Farnham have collected some giant statues displayed at their home in Unger, West Virginia, a tiny unincorporated community west of Martinsville. It all began because George wanted a “huge fiberglass dinosaur,” but Pam wasn’t as keen on the dinosaur idea, so she bought a Santa Claus, a surfer enjoying a giant coke, and the “Muffler Man” that stands 25 feet tall.
Fiberglass Statue Mold Yard - Sparta
Fiberglass Statue Mold Yard is a massive graveyard for giant fiberglass statues made for various businesses. While that might not sound like much, some are rather creepy, looking like something from the start of a horror movie.
World's Largest Jackalope - Douglas
Known as Wyoming’s “Official Mythical Creature,” the world’s largest jackalope has roots dating back to 1939, when a Douglas taxidermist stuffed an animal that was said to be the offspring of an antelope and a jackrabbit. You can take a selfie in front of the weird oversized statue that sits in front of the Douglas Railroad Interpretive Center.