The 12 Weirdest and Most Wonderful Roadside Attractions Across America
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Nothing compared to the freedom of going on family road trips as a child. Rolling down the windows in the backseat, wind blowing through my hair, I literally watched the world go by. The open road opened doors to an otherworldly life where rules were bent and adventure triumphed over routine. I remember stopping at eccentric places along Route 66 to collect small treasures, like a new geode for my rock collection. Summer travel was about enjoying the journey, not just focusing on the destination.
Cut to: road trips with me as the parent in the driver’s seat trying everything in my power to dissuade my kids from asking the inevitable “Are we there yet?” If you’re road tripping with your family this summer, try breaking up your journey by braking for these quirky roadside attractions across America. Many memories will be made en route as you encounter everything from roaring dinosaurs and towering trolls to an ice cream graveyard and America’s largest cave.
Read on for my top quirky attraction picks:
1. Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon, CA)
Wow your kids by walking among the world’s largest dinosaurs! The Cabazon Dinosaurs are an iconic roadside attraction, scaring up fun and photo ops for travelers since 1975. Pose beneath a towering, teeth-baring T. Rex, behold a giant pink Brontosaurus, and snap a pic with surfing velociraptors. If you stop by on a Saturday or Sunday between noon and 7 p.m., be sure to grab an ice cream or treat from the Wafflesaurus truck.
Learn more: Cabazon Dinosaurs
2. Fremont Troll (Seattle, WA)
Add some excitement to your trek through the Pacific Northwest. Fans of the fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff will be delighted to visit The Fremont Troll: an 18-foot-tall concrete troll with a piercing metal eye who lives under the north end of Seattle’s Aurora Bridge (on N. 36th Street and Troll Avenue N. to be exact). See if your kids can spy the Volkswagen Beetle that the troll is crushing in his grip.
Learn more: Fremont Troll
3. Carlsbad Caverns (Carlsbad, NM)
Swap out sitting in the backseat for spelunking in some caves, where your kids can channel their inner Indiana Jones at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. This stop promises plenty of adventure as you tour The Big Room trail, which boasts “the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America.” If you stop here at night, be sure to catch the Bat Flight program from late May-October. You’ll be mesmerized by the flight of a cloud of Brazilian free-tailed bats emerging from the caves to search for their nighttime feed. The bats return to the caves between 4 and 6 a.m. if your family is more early bird than night owl, and your travels coordinate better with making this stop at sunrise.
Learn more: Carlsbad Caverns
4. The Munster Mansion (Waxahachie, TX)
Even though the hit TV show “The Munsters” was before their time, your kids will still get a kick out of visiting The Munster Mansion. Owners Sandra and Charles McKee recreated this replica of the Victorian mansion depicted in the sitcom with meticulous attention to detail. The Munsters’ fire-breathing pet even greets you upon entry! Be sure to schedule your tour of the Mansion before you arrive, as it’s private property and no walk-ins are permitted.
Learn more: The Munster Mansion
5. Carhenge (Alliance, NE)
If you just have time for a quick stop to stretch your legs and snap a few incredible photos, pull over at Carhenge along Highway 87 any day from dawn to dusk to get your little car enthusiast’s motor runnin’. This scale replica of England’s Stonehenge was recreated by artist Jim Reinders as a memorial to his father. 39 automobiles spray painted gray and welded into gravity-defying positions make quite the impression. The Pit Stop gift shop at Carhenge is open May-September, so you can grab a souvenir to commemorate your road trip.
Learn more: Carhenge
6. Hole N’ The Rock (Moab, UT)
Cruising down Highway 191? Then stop by to take a 12-minute tour of this 5,000 sq. foot home that is literally carved into a rock! Now a memorial to the home’s builders, Albert and Gladys Christensen, your kids will be astounded that Albert spent 12 years excavating 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone from the rock — as this project morphed from being just a small alcove for his boys to an unbelievable feat of engineering. Extend your stop with a visit to the petting zoo on site to see exotic birds, deer, camels, and more.
Learn more: Hole N’ The Rock
7. Miles the Monster (Dover, DE)
The Fremont Troll mentioned above is an underground gem, but his distant, much larger twin, Miles the Monster, towers above Dover International Speedway (a.k.a The Monster Mile) across the country in Delaware. A whopping 46-feet tall, Miles is made of fiberglass, and his blazing red eyes look angry as he holds a race car he seems poised to crush in one hand. You can access Miles on North Dupont Highway. Turn left at the main entrance of Dover International Speedway, then go to the right and head to the back of the stadium. Here you’ll find the monster who’s under 24 hour surveillance to ensure he behaves.
Learn more: Miles the Monster
8. Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard (Waterbury Village Historic District, VT)
Pay your respects to Ben & Jerry’s “dearly de-pinted” at the least spooky graveyard in the world: Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard! Located on the grounds of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, you can take a nostalgic stroll through forty less fortunate flavors like “Wavy Gravy” and “Fossil Fuel” that didn’t quite cut it and are now forever frozen in time on a tombstone. If you spot a flavor you’d love to see resurrected, click here to let Ben & Jerry’s know and they may consider bringing it back to life. If you visit between noon and 6 p.m. daily, be sure to head to the walk-up scoop shop and scream for some ice cream that’s still very much alive.
Learn more: Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
9. Rock City (Lookout Mountain, GA)
It’s not every day you can make a stop that affords you a bird’s eye vantage point of seven states at once! The Lover’s Leap, Observation Point, and Seven States Flag Court at Rock City is located 1,700 feet above sea level and the views are unparalleled. Kids will also dig the ancient rock formations, expansive gardens, and the chance to walk across the swing-a-long bridge or through the hall of the mountain king. Reserve your tickets in advance since limited walk-up tickets are available.
Learn more: Rock City
10. Goats on the Grassy Roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik (Sister Bay, WI)
Passing through Sister Bay in Door County Wisconsin late May-mid October? Your kids will get a kick out of seeing goats grazing on grass on the roof atop Al Johnson’s! Travelers have come from all over the world to get a glimpse of this famous, most curious sight. Watching the goats eat will surely make your own “kids” hungry (see what I did there?), so head inside the restaurant to dine on some Swedish pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. Stop in Al’s Butik before you go to shop for some souvenirs like traditional Swedish clogs or a loaf of Swedish Limpa bread to nosh on during the rest of your road trip.
Learn more: Goats on the Grassy Roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik
11. Big Things Small Town (Casey, IL)
Is a road trip really complete if you haven’t seen the “world’s largest” something or other? Make a big impression on your family with a stop at Big Things Small Town. You’ll be wowed by myriad gigantic creations including the world’s largest rocking chair, the world’s largest mailbox (which you can climb up into to mail a letter of your own), and so much more, including 12 certified Guinness World Record World’s Largest attractions and 4 world record holders: The Largest Wind Chime, Golf Tee, Knitting Needles, and Crochet Hook. This pit stop will be a supersized hit.
Learn more: Big Things Small Town
12. Jelly Belly Factory Tour (Fairfield, CA)
Surprise your kids with a sugar rush on a self-guided tour of the Jelly Belly Factory. Walking along the 1/4-mile-long elevated tour lane to witness the factory operations of what goes into the making of a jelly belly will put some pep in their step. The tour also includes interactive exhibits and videos about Jelly Belly candy manufacturing. Stay awhile to enjoy additional activities like dining at the Jelly Belly Cafe (order the Jelly Belly bean-shaped pizza!), shopping at the Jelly Belly Candy Store or Chocolate Shoppe and Fudge Counter and strolling through the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Art Gallery. Leave with a bag of beans and play “Guess the Flavor”!
Learn more: Jelly Belly Factory Tour