What would a family vacation be without some of the most unique and unusual road-side attractions? There’s no sense in driving for hours upon hours without a little bit of fun for the whole family at each stop along the way. Skip out on the boring ‘rest stops’ and try these popular road-side attractions to complete the experience this vacation. The best part? Some of everyone’s favorites are free! Check out the list below to see if you can squeeze any into your itinerary:
1. Hole n’ the Rock—Moab, Utah
Hole n’ the Rock is a unique home dug into the side of a colossal sandstone rock. Take a look around the 5,000 square foot home and check out the trading post and gift shop in one stop. The tour only takes 12 minutes so it won’t throw you offf your schedule for too long. The Hole n’ the Rock is located in Canyonlands Country in Southwestern Utah for those traveling along US Highway 191. It’s open all year round and is best to call ahead for hours. Adults cost $6, youth $3.50 and children 5 and under are free.
2. World’s Largest Fork—Springfield, Missouri
Named the “World’s Largest Fork”, this giant 35 foot tall fork can be found sticking out of the ground in Springfield, Missouri. If you are passing through, add a stop to see what the landscapers have planted underneath the fork. Often times you will see green leafy plants that resemble lettuce.
The fork once stood outside a restaurant but was moved just off US Highway 60 just outside Noble & Associates—an ad agency!
3. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue the Ox—Minnesota, California, Oregon
Next road trip, add Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox—some of America’s most famous folk heros—to your itinerary. These huge statues can be spotted all across America from Minnesota to California. Paul and Babe in Bemedji, Minnesota were added to the national register of historic places in 1988. In Klamath, California, Paul and Babe are situated just out front the Trees of Mystery and a giftshop with delicious fudge inside! Other locations include Brainerd, Akeley, Ossineke, Grayling and Paul’s gal in Hackensack.
4. Stonehenge Memorial—Goldendale, Washington
Who would have guessed you could see Stonehenge right here in America? Near the Washington-Oregon border just off Highway 14, head to the town of Goldendale where you will find the Maryhill Stonehenge—a scale sized replica of the original! The only difference is this concrete WWI monument is made of concrete. Here at the monument you can capture a breathtaking view of the Columbia River with windmills in the distance. Admission is free and there are fruit stands and wine-tasting at Waving Tree Tasting Room just down the hill.
Why head to England when America has it all?!
5. World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock—Sugarcreek, Ohio
In Sugarcreek, Ohio you will find the “World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock” with a walk down main street. This popular attraction was built in 1972 by a Swiss Cheese-maker and was once located at the Alpine Alpa restaurant. The clock stands 23 feet tall and 24 feet wide and can now be spotted on Factory Street. It is a landmark favorite and can be seen operating just as it did when it was originally constructed.
6. Ave Maria Grotto—Cullman, Alabama
The Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama is a fantastic stop for anyone who wants to see a ‘mini-Jerusalem’. These sculptures carve the most monumental religious buildings from around the world out of stone and concrete. There are 125 religious sites and shrines—the work of Borther Joseph Zoettl a Benadictine monk here at the Saint Bernard Abbey. This stop is located at 1600 Bernard Drive SE in Cullman. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
7. Oregon Vortex and Mystery House—Oregon (or the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California)
If you are up for solving a mystery, head to the Oregon Vortex—home to the mystery house. The Oregon Vortex is a paradoxical site where some say the forces of nature cause the magnetic pole of this area to point slightly off the usual north. Many strange illusions and odd perceptions can be found at the Mystery House. There is also a similar attraction in Santa Cruz, California named the Mystery Spot. The Oregon Vortex is open March 1st to October 31st. Adults are $12.50, youth $9 and children 5 and under are free!
8. Lucy the Elephant—Margate, New Jersey
Everyone’s favorite elephant is located in Margate, New Jersey along the Atlantic coast. Lucy the Elephant is a popular attraction listed in the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks. Come visit the elephant, climb up the spiral staircase to the top and take in the grand view of the shoreline from six stories up! Lucy is located inside Josephine Harron Park. Tours run every 30 minutes, and it’s open from 11 am to 4 pm with extended hours throughout the year.
This massive elephant was created in 1881 and remains an iconic Jersey landmark!
9. Cadillac Ranch—Amarillo, Texas
Just off Highway 40 in Amarillo, Texas is one of the most popular Cadillac sculptures in America. Cadillac Ranch was founded in 1974 by members of the Ant Farm art group. This public sculpture features the evolution of Cadillac cars through the years—each sticking out of the ground at the same angle as the Pyramids of Giza! Stop by to see the Cadillac model transform over time.
10. World’s Largest Musical Fountain—Grand Haven, Michigan
The World’s Largest Musical Fountain is a water and lights show located in Grand Haven, Michigan. The fountain is best seen from Waterview Stadium. Many shows play just before sunset through the summer, but it’s always best to check ahead for the correct times before you go!
If you are ever in the area, this 20 minute show is worth the stop.
11. Grotto of Redemption—West Bend, Iowa
Named by Iowan magazine as “Miracle in Stone”, Grotto of Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world! This place is the perfect stop to see the largest collection of gems and precious stones found in any one location. The Grotto is spread across nine separate grottos to depict scenes from the life of Christ. It is also listed under the National Register of Historical Places 2001.
A composite of nine seperate grottos, each portrays a scene in the life of Christ. To see it, head to 300 N Broadway in West Bend, Iowa.
12. The World’s Largest Rotating, Revolving Globe—Falmouth, Maine
One of the coolest stops in Maine is none other than Eartha—the World’s Largest Rotating, Revolving Globe. It simulates true earth movements and measures an amazing 41.5 feet across! It first made its debut in 1998, and remains the largest of it’s kind. To see this globe, take exit 17 off Highway 295. You can see it from outside at any time, but to take a look up close, the lobby is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm.
This 3 dimensional model of Earth portrays a scale size globe of our planet complete with mountains and landforms.
13. Biosphere 2—Oracle, Arizona
An incredible place to stop and learn about the planet is Biosphere 2, just north of Tuscon. This unique facility holds a world of research at the edge of the Santa Catalina Mountain range, surrounded by a natural preserve. This place will offer you insight into the latest studies, while you also get to explore the mini-world within the facility. Tours are offered every 30 to 40 minutes between 9:30 am and 4 pm, and closed toed shoes are recommended.
14. Drive Through A Tree—California
If you ever find yourself on a drive north of San Francisco along California Highway 101, take this time to drive through a tree. The Chandelier tree is an enormous Redwood that has been hollowed out, so that you can fit your car through it! This tree is an amazing sight, and makes a great stop for a break and a unique photo opportunity.
15. World’s Largest Lava Lamp—Soap Lake, Washington
This isn’t just any old lava lamp—it’s a colossal work of ingenuity and advanced technology! This project is a work in progress, but it is expected that you will be able to watch the lava lamp perform at dusk. Keep your eyes open for when the Soap Lake Lava Lamp makes it debut.
The Soap Lake Lava Lamp uses a laser projection to mimic the red liquid found within a lava lamp.
16. The Enchanted Highway—Regent, North Dakota
Near Regent, North Dakota, The Enchanted Highway stretches with some of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures. Spot the fishes, farmers and birds along this 32 mile stretch between the Gladstone exit north of Regent and east of Dickinson on Highway 94. Some of these sculptures are worth stopping for photographs, and many also have picnic shelters to stop for a break before you get back on the road.
What’s your favorite roadside attraction? Did we mention it?! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.