The yearning to take road trips are practically inherent in every American. Is there anything more patriotic than packing up your car, blasting the radio, and taking a drive through those amber waves of grain out West?
Because Americans love to drive, it’s not surprising that entire towns have sprung up around the major highways and byways that people use to get around this country. These towns all require tourism to thrive, which means they have to get pretty creative in order to attract passerby.
That’s why every single state in the union has at least one totally wacky roadside attraction near the highway that you’ve got to check out. Pack your bags and get ready for the drive of a lifetime!
1. Alabama: The Ave Maria Grotto. This four-acre roadside attraction was made of trash and cement by the hunchbacked Benedictine monk Brother Joseph. The stunning and unique site contains more than 125 individual grottos.
2. Alaska: The World’s Largest Santa. The town that’s home to this Santa was named “David” until it was reborn as “North Pole”—complete with this 43-foot-tall Santa—in 1953. He fits in when it’s snowy, but even when things warm up it’s easy to see that he’s right where he belongs.
3. Arizona: London Bridge. Did you know that the original London Bridge isn’t in London at all? A section of the old bridge, which was built in 1830, was dismantled and transported all the way to Arizona where it now spans Lake Havasu. It’s a stunning local curiosity.
4. Arkansas: Christ of the Ozarks. Don’t be confused—you aren’t in Brazil, just the deep south! Still, it’s clear this statue was modeled after Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. It stands 66 feet tall and is the third tallest Jesus in the world.
5. California: Salvation Mountain. This colorful shrine is another example of roadside religious art. While the text at the top proclaims that “God Is Love,” you don’t need to be a believer to be wowed by this five-story-tall display.
6. Colorado: Herkimer, The World’s Largest Beetle. This giant West Indian Hercules beetle is designed to lure tourists to the May Museum of the Tropics. Even if he wasn’t under constant surveillance and surrounded by barbed wire, you still wouldn’t try to squish this bug.
7. Connecticut: Entropy and Watermelons. This roadside depiction of Hera in the Greek style was made by Tony Matelli. How the watermelons are related to the statue is anyone’s guess. Ponder the mystery for yourself when you pass by!
8. Delaware: Fountain of Youth. Who would have thought that the fountain of youth would be located in Delaware? Don’t skip down to this fountain to restore your years, though; it’s been empty for decades! But it’s still very Instagram-worthy.
9. Florida: Weeki Wachee Springs. If you ever wanted to see “real” mermaids, this is your chance! Since 1947, the Weeki Wachee mermaids have dazzled audiences. The swimmers must endure a tough application process and training program before they are accepted to become part of that world.
10. Georgia: Jimmy Carter Peanut. Believe it or not, this peanut—which stands at a whopping 13 feet tall—was erected by Jimmy Carter’s campaign team in their bid to see him elected as President. It still stands today featuring his signature, big-tooth grin.
11. Hawaii: Volcano Steam Vents. The next time you’re in Hawaii, make sure to check out these amazing vents that give off steam from the Kilauea volcano. Stop and take pictures, enjoy the steam, and anything else you like—like seeing what happens if you toss a piece of paper into that hole.
12. Idaho: Spud Drive-In Theatre. This massive potato sits outside of a movie theatre in Idaho and has been attracting tourists for years. It might not be the biggest potato recorded, or the oldest, but it’s still pretty darn cool… no matter how you slice it.
13. Illinois: World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. There’s more to this 170-foot catsup bottle than you might notice at first glance. In addition to being a hilarious novelty, it is also a working water tower. Gotta love civic infrastructure with a sense of humor!
14. Indiana: World’s Largest Ball of Paint. This giant ball of paint started off as a plain old baseball in 1977. Now, it’s covered in 24,000 layers of paint and it weighs more than two-and-a-half tons. The craziest part? It’s still growing!
15. Iowa: Albert the Bull. This bull has stood watch over his domain for more than 50 years. There’s a recorded message that will regale you with fun facts about the bull, including how he sees more than 200,000 visitors annually! Moooo!
16. Kansas: World’s Largest Ball Of Twine. Originally, this ball started as a way to get rid of leftover twine, and now it’s in all of the record books. While its shape has degraded as it has gotten bigger, this monstrosity still comprises about eight million feet of twine.
17. Kentucky: Dinosaur World. Inexplicably, this park contains more than 15o giant dinosaur replicas for you and your family to have fun exploring. It’s like Jurassic Park, except the threat of being consumed by velociraptors goes down by at least half. At least.
18. Louisiana: Mardi Gras World. This cool attraction stores hundreds of old Mardi Gras decorations and floats. It makes for a fun visit, provided you aren’t the kind of person who’s convinced that you’ll wind up in a Night At The Museum-type scenario.
19. Maine: International Cryptozoology Museum. Founded by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, this museum provides “proof” of some of the urban legends you heard growing up. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll bump into FBI agent Fox Mulder. He wanted to believe, right?
20. Maryland: National Museum of Health and Medicine. Travel to this museum to see all sorts of medical oddities! There’s the bullet that killed Lincoln and even slivers of his skull. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s undoubtedly cool.
21. Massachusetts: Paper House. That’s right—the name tells you all you need to know. This house is made entirely out of paper, and it took more than 20 year to construct. Do yourself a favor and leave your lighter in the car, though. You don’t want to be the guy who accidentally burns this place down.
22. Michigan: World’s Largest Tire. This 80-foot-tall tire was once a working Ferris wheel during the World’s Fair. The best thing about a tire this big is that you’ll only get a flat if you run over, say, a skyscraper or two in your giant car.
23. Minnesota: The Jolly Green Giant. It should come as no surprise that the state’s best-known food mascot looks over his vast domain. It’s definitely worth stopping to get your picture taken. Just don’t try to sneak a peek up his tunic!
24. Mississippi: Mammy’s Cupboard. This controversial roadside stand was accused of being racist in the 1960s. The owners responded by lightening the skin of the woman after whom the tasty little dive is named. Word on the street is they have a great apple pie.
25. Missouri: World’s Largest 20th Century Pecan. Spoiler alert: this is not a pecan. It is, in fact, a giant piece of concrete. Don’t try sneaking a big bite and you should be just fine visiting this oddity. Still, it’s just cement, so keep your expectations in check if you visit.
26. Montana: 50,000 Silver $ Bar. Not only does this bar serve a nice cold beer when you’re ready to turn in for the night, but they also have 50,000 silver dollar coins in their possession! This is the ideal place to stop and check out if you’re a real coin-head.
27. Nebraska: Carhenge. While this particular structure doesn’t share the mysterious origins of its namesake, it’s no less captivating. The site was created by Jim Reinders in 1987 and 100,000 people visit it each year.
28. Nevada: Rhyolite’s Last Supper. Starting in the early 1980s, the ghost town of Rhyolite became a popular place for sculptors to install their artwork. Some of the most striking images come in the form of this unique portrayal of the Last Supper.
29. New Hampshire: USS Albacore. Why is this active submarine just sitting in this ditch, you ask? Apparently it’s cheaper to insure a sub when it’s out of the water. So keep that in mind if you’re ever in the market for that kind of coverage!
30. New Jersey: Lucy the Elephant. Lucy isn’t just a roadside attraction—she’s an institution! Built in 1881, Lucy is officially the oldest roadside attraction in the United States. Clearly elephants age a whole lot better than humans…
31. New Mexico: The Four Corners. This neat little spot claims that, if you stand just so, you’ll be in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah all at the same time. (Not to be a buzzkill, but the actual intersection of all four states is about 2,000 feet away.)
32. New York: The World’s Smallest Church. This teeny tiny church can only hold two people and it floats on a lake in upstate New York. In an age where bigger is usually considered to be better, this tiny chapel defies the norm.
33. North Carolina: World’s Largest Set of Drawers. This mammoth chest of drawers was built to celebrate the town of High Point, or what is otherwise known as the “Home Furnishings Capital of the World.” So, what’s inside of these drawers? Probably giant underpants.
34. North Dakota: The Enchanted Highway. Driving along this 200-mile stretch of highway could be deeply boring if it weren’t for all of the wild and imaginative sculptures that dot the land to keep you from getting stuck in a rut and falling asleep.
35. Ohio: The World’s Largest Basket. This might look like a giant picnic basket, but it is actually an office building where people have to work every day. Fingers crossed that giant bears don’t exist, hey Boo-Boo?
36. Oklahoma: Bowling Ball Yard. Local resident Chris Barbee started this project because he needed something to do with the old gazing balls in his wife’s garden that happened to be made of bowling balls. One thing led to another, and this roadside attraction was born.
37. Oregon: Grant’s Pass Caveman. The origins of this caveman might be mysterious, but the townsfolk still adores their local mascot. When teenagers burned it to the ground in 2004, the townspeople gathered together to rebuild it. They also cut down a tree that was blocking the statue from sight.
38. Pennsylvania: When the Ducks Walk on the Fish. In Pymatuning State Park, the water is so densely packed with carp that the ducks and seagulls who live on the water are actually known to walk over the fish on their way to get tasty treats from visiting humans.
39. Rhode Island: The Big Blue Bug. This mascot for New England Pest Control sits on their roof overlooking I-95. Thankfully, this termite is not alive. If he were, Rhode Island wouldn’t last very long, what with all the feasting he’d surely do.
40. South Carolina: The World’s Largest Fire Hydrant. This massive piece of art was commissioned by the city of Columbia in 1975. While this may not be a working fire hydrant, it is, in fact, a working fountain. So while it can’t officially put out fires, it can help you make a dent if you’ve got a bucket handy.
41. South Dakota: Petrified Wood Park. This unique park takes up one whole block of the town of Lemmon’s Main Street. Its location in the heart of town makes it a great place to check out if, you know, stuff made out of petrified wood is your thing.
42. Tennessee: Parthenon. Why bother traveling to Europe when you check out this reproduction of the famous Greek Parthenon in Tennessee? This replica was built in 1897. It might not be as old as the real thing, but it’s definitely less likely to topple over.
43. Texas: Beer Can House. Homeowner John Milkovisch used more than 50,000 beer cans for the construction of this roadside attraction. Though many revere the Houston home as high art, he says it’s just a way for him to the pass the time.
44. Utah: Metaphor: The Tree Of Utah. Swedish artist Karl Momen built this tree after daydreaming about how strange it would be to spot a tree while driving along the deserts of Utah. He was right: a tree in the middle of this desert is pretty darn strange.
45. Vermont: Gorilla Holding Up a VW Bug. You can spot this unique sight while driving along Route 7. The Gorilla’s other hand (you know, the one not busy sustaining the weight of a car) is outstretched so that passersby can pose while sitting on it.
46. Virginia: Foamhenge. It’s like Stonehenge, only in Virginia—and, you know, made of foam. Why human beings are so obsessed with creating their own “henges,” the world may never know, but here’s hoping they keep on doing it.
47. Washington: Fremont Troll. You’ve all heard the fables about trolls living beneath bridges, right? Well meet one who really does! This concrete creation can be found beneath the Aurora Bridge in Washington. It’s actually a popular hangout spot.
48. West Virginia: Mothman Statue. Mothman is an urban legend in West Virginia; he’s rumored to have come to the town of Point Pleasant in the 1960s where he passed his time terrifying the residents of the town.
49. Wisconsin: The World’s Largest Fish. This cheesy state is also home to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which happens to be located inside of world’s largest fiberglass fish. It’s as big as a Boeing 757, making it the largest thing in Hayward, Wisconsin—and it’s probably the biggest thing you will see all day.
50. Wyoming: Giant Head Of Abraham Lincoln. What, you might ask, does Wyoming have to do with Abraham Lincoln? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That’s what makes this random giant head of the 16th President so darn entertaining!
Wow! After reading this list, it’s kind of impossible not to want to get into your car and go for the road trip to end all other road trips. Who knew that this country was full of so many unique—and just plain weird—attractions?
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