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10 Crazy Roadside Attractions to See on a Family Road Trip

From the world's largest ball of twine to a drive-through tree, hit the road in search of adventure and eye-popping weirdness.

Erica Silverstein · 4 months ago

  • travel
Carhenge

WikiMedia Commons

The road trip is the quintessential American travel experience — embracing the freedom of the road with endless stretches of highway, regional fast food empires, and must-be-seen-to-be-believed roadside attractions. Seek out the world’s largest ketchup bottle, basket building, buffalo monument, chest of drawers, and ball of paint for a quick photo op. Or enjoy the even more surreal scenes at these 10 crazy roadside attractions worth driving out of your way to experience.

1. Drive-Through Tree

Chandelier Drive-Through Tree

Getty

In my elementary school social studies textbook, there was a picture of a giant redwood tree with a car driving through it, and for years, my travel goal was to drive through a tree. On a road trip through northern California, I finally got my wish — and a lot of ribbing from my friends. Humboldt County is home to three drive-through redwood trees: the Tour-Thru Tree in Klamath, Shrine Drive Thru Tree in Myers Flat, and the Chandelier Drive Thru Tree in Leggett. And don’t listen to my friends, the experience was totally worth it!

2. Carhenge, Nebraska

Carhenge

WikiMedia Commons

Rising out of the plains of Nebraska is the mythic ... Carhenge. Yup, a to-scale replica of England’s Stonehenge, made out of old cars spray painted gray. Carhenge is a memorial to the artist’s father, who owned the farm where the attraction now presides. Once you’ve pulled over in Alliance, NE, you can tour the other sculptures on the property or hit up the Pit Stop Gift Shop for all your souvenir needs.

3. Enchanted Highway, North Dakota

Enchanted Highway, North Dakota

WikiMedia Commons

Driving hours through North Dakota isn’t always easy on the eyes, that is until you reach the Enchanted Highway. This 32-mile stretch of road between Gladstone and Regent is peppered with enormous metal sculptures, mainly depicting larger-than-life people (like the Tin Family) and animals (Geese in Flight and Deer Crossing). Most have parking lots, so you don’t have to take your social media photos out a moving car window. Don’t miss the Enchanted Castle at the end for a meal, bed, or souvenir postcard.

4. World’s Largest Ball of Twine

World’s Largest Ball of Twine

Darwin Twine Ball, via Twitter

Weird Al fans know that the World’s Largest Ball of Twine is in Minnesota (Darwin to be exact). But it’s got a rival for the title in Cawker City, Kansas. Wikipedia, the all-knowing judge, settles the dispute by asserting that the Kansas ball of twine is the largest built by a community, while the Minnesota ball is the largest built by a single person. Upstarts in Wisconsin and Missouri claim to be the heaviest or largest made of nylon. You might need to plan an epic road trip to visit all four twiney roadside attractions.

5. Big Things Small Town, Illinois

World's Largest Rocking Chair, Casey, Illinois

WikiMedia Commons

The town of Casey, Illinois, took the concept of “supersize” to heart. The town is home to multiple oversized roadside attractions, including the world’s largest mailbox, rocking chair, barbershop pole, teeter totter, and pitchfork, among others. Take a break from driving and walk around the downtown area where many of these larger-than-life are located. We guarantee the response to your Instagram photos will be HUGE.

6. Corn Palace, South Dakota

Corn Palace, South Dakota

WikiMedia Commons

If you think roadside attractions are corny, then the corniest of them all is South Dakota’s Corn Palace. The original Corn Palace dates to 1892 when road trips involved stage coaches instead of minivans. Each year, themed murals are made from 12 different shades of corn — so don’t plan your visit for September, when the citizens of Mitchell, SD, are busy tearing down last year’s decor and replacing it with a-maize-ing new artwork.

7. Rock City, Georgia

Lover's Leap, Lookout Mountain, Rock City, Georgia

Getty

A gorgeous natural landscape of rocky outcroppings and breathtaking seven-state views clearly needs more oomph to attract visitors. Or so thought some business folks in the 1950s when they decided to add a fairy village, restaurants, and shops to Lookout Mountain’s Rock City on the Georgia-Tennessee border. Make a detour to spend some time at this nature-based attraction, slipping through Fat Man’s Squeeze or traversing the Swing-A-Long Bridge — and of course, saying hello to all the gnomes and fairies.

8. Wild Blueberry Land, Maine

Wild Blueberry Land, Maine

Courtesy Wild Blueberry Land

If South Dakota can make a roadside attraction all about corn, then Maine can certainly do the same for blueberries. Wild Blueberry Land features a blueberry museum, gift shop, restaurant, and bakery housed in blueberry-themed buildings (including a blue geodesic dome). Time your visit with a snack break and chow down on blueberry pies, ice cream, and other treats while you take your selfies and try not to Veruca Salt into a giant blueberry yourself.

9. Beer Can House, Texas

Beer Can House, Texas

WikiMedia Commons

Now here’s a guy who took “reduce, reuse, recycle” to heart. John Milkovisch spent 18 years slowly covering his house with upwards of 50,000 flattened beer cans and garlands of beer can pieces. We don’t really recommend this as a way for you to lower your energy bills and save the earth, but the Beer Can House is one crazy roadside attraction worth a stop on your way through Houston.

10. Bowl Plaza, Kansas

Bowl Plaza, Kansas

Courtesy Grassroots Art Center, Lucas, Kansas

Every road trip demands a pit stop (or many). Turn your bathroom break into a photo opp when you pull over at Bowl Plaza in Lucas, Kansas. The public restroom (yes, it’s handicapped accessible) is shaped like a giant toilet bowl and covered in mosaics made from recycled glass, ceramics, mirrors, and even toys. You’ve never wanted to take a camera into a rest stop ... until now. Your Facebook friends will flip their lids.