Americans have long been fascinated by quirky tourist sites, but roadside attractions really began to take off in the 1940s. Businesses used the appeal of these offbeat stops along major highways and interstates to their advantage, creating fantastic oversized objects to catch the eye of travelers. Perhaps nowhere is that more evident than on iconic Route 66, home to a plethora of billboards highlighting various peculiar roadside attractions.
As any avid road tripper knows, you never know when your road trip will take an unusual turn. The next time you’re on a cross-country trip, check out these 10 strangest roadside attractions in the United States.
Hole N" The Rock, Moab, Utah
Albert and Gladys Christensen carved their 5,000-square-foot dream home out of a huge rock on Utah's sandstone canyonland. Unfortunately, the 14-room house still wasn’t complete when Albert passed away in 1957. To honor his legacy, Gladys continued to develop the property, later opening an on-site gift shop and offering tours of her home.
After Gladys passed away in 1974, Hole N" The Rock remained a roadside attraction for travelers along U.S. Route 191. Today, visitors can admire Albert's artwork and Gladys' doll collection while exploring the home's interior..
You can also visit the animals at the site's petting zoo, enjoy a snack at the General Store, or shop for locally made Native American crafts at the Trading Post.And if you’re an art connoisseur, don’t miss Lyle Nichols' sculpted works of art at Hole N" The Rock.
Leila's Hair Museum, Independence, Missouri
Leila's Hair Museum showcases an eclectic collection of wreaths and jewelry crafted with human hair. Owner Leila Cohoon is focused on preserving antique hair art in all its forms, and her museum off Route 78 in Independence, Missouri, is a testament to her passion for this art form, housing over 600 hair wreaths and 2,000 pieces of hair jewelry.
Essentially, hair art is delicately fixed onto mat board material and tucked into gold frames. Hair wreaths highlight a family history and often contain the hair of multiple family members intricately woven together. Some brooches even contain locks of hair from lovers, complete with engraved sentiments. Meanwhile, neckpieces adorned with scenes painted with the beloved’s pulverized hair serve as memorials.
Dinosaur Kingdom II, Natural Bridge, Virginia
Looking to travel back in time on your next road trip? Virginia’s Dinosaur Kingdom II, located off Lee Highway in Natural Bridge, offers just that … well, sort of. What you’ll actually encounter is a wacky alternate universe where the Civil War Era collides with the Mesozoic Era.
Created by renowned artist and theme park developer Mark Cline, Dinosaur Kingdom II offers an unconventional yet entertaining blend of history and science. Get ready to see Stonewall Jackson battles a spinosaurus and dozens of other statues — some of them moving, complete with sound effects — that reenact a reimagined Civil War. Only this time, dinosaurs are on the attack. The roadside attraction is open year-round, rain or shine.
Jimmy Carter Peanut, Plains, Georgia
The world’s second-largest peanut structure (the largest is also in Georgia) welcomes travelers to President Jimmy Carter's hometown. An odd monument to the 39th president, the 13-foot peanut was built by the Democratic Party as a campaign gimmick during the 1976 election.
To make the monument a bit more appealing, a toothy smile was added to the peanut. In that year’s election, Carter took the lead in all of Georgia’s counties and eventually defeated Gerald Ford 297-240 in terms of electoral votes. Today, visitors often stop to pose with the Jimmy Carter Smiling Peanut when they drive along State Route 45 in Plains.
The Enchanted Highway, Regent, North Dakota
If driving through otherworldly landscapes sounds appealing, then check out North Dakota's Enchanted Highway. This 32-mile stretch of road connects I-94 to the small town of Regent, and it’s lined with several enormous metal artworks sculpted by local artist Gary Greff.
The sculptures have one main purpose: to entice travelers to get off the highway and visit Regent. Greff's first giant artwork, Tin Family, was erected in 1990 and depicts several towering metal figures. Over the past three decades, Greff has continued crafting these charming, surreal sculptures, attracting visitors from all over the country. While no two are stylistically alike, each sculpture is a celebration of North Dakota. One features Teddy Roosevelt, for example, while another consists of 60-foot pheasants.
Another sculpture, titled Geese in Flight, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest outdoor sculpture in the world. Towering 90 feet above the freeway exit, it’s a must-see attraction for anyone traveling through this area.
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
In a cow pasture off I-40 you’ll encounter a row of10 Cadillacs that stick out of the dirt like dominoes. This unique display, known as Cadillac Ranch, was built in 1974 when an eccentric millionaire teamed up with an art collective called The Ant Farm. It has since inspired several other auto-based art pieces, including Nebraska's Carhenge.
Impressively, the exhibitions at Cadillac Ranch are interactive and always evolving. While many quirky roadside attractions are static in nature, visitors to Cadillac Ranch are actively encouraged to add their own creative touches to the graffiti that already covers the vehicles.
Each time you visit, the Cadillacs will be covered in more layers of unique artwork — so why not grab some paint and head out there to make your mark?
Wild Blueberry Land, Columbia Falls, Maine
Since 2001, the 220-acre Wild Blueberry Land has been sharing its love of blueberries and sustainable farming with visitors from all over the country. Located between Route 1 and Route 187, Wild Blueberry Land is packed with delightful blue sculptures and even a giant blueberry-shaped building, all surrounded by the area's lush farmland.
With a museum and gift shop, visitors can learn all about the history of the blueberry. And, of course, there's no shortage of delicious blueberry foods on sale — pies, jams, sauces, ice cream, bread, and candy — so no one leaves Wild Blueberry Land hungry.
Although this is a seasonal operation (from mid-June through early October), the beautiful landscape and unique sculptures are worth a visit at any time of the year. Whether the blueberry fields are in full summer bloom, the foliage is fiery red, or the whole farm is dusted with snow, this is certainly one of the more charming — and idyllic — roadside attractions in America.
Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
The Dog Bark Park encourages travelers to "Come Experience the Dog!" While this may be a slightly strange invitation, it's definitely one worth accepting if you happen to be passing through local Route 95 in northern Idaho.
Dog Bark Park features the world's two biggest beagles, Sweet Willy and Toby. While 12-foot-tall Toby is impressive enough, Sweet Willy is the real star: His official name is the Dog Bark Park Inn, and he is a literal bed-and-breakfast — that just happens to be shaped like a giant beagle.
The park — which includes an artist's studio, gift shop, and incredible views of the surrounding countryside — is run by husband and wife artists Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. Sullivan and Conklin also sell plenty of their own wood carvings at their gift shop. There, you’ll find whimsical little sculptures carved in the shape of bears, cats, fish, and, of course, dogs.
International Cryptozoology Museum, Portland, Maine
Sasquatch, the Jersey Devil, the Montauk Monster, and sea serpents — these are just a few of the mysterious creatures you can learn about at the International Cryptozoology Museum. Dedicated to the study of “hidden” or otherwise unknown animals, this museum is currently the only one of its kind in the world.
Located off I-295 in Portland, Maine, the museum features a large range of exhibits with cryptids, fossils, and artifacts from cryptozoological expeditions, making for a fascinating excursion for skeptics and true believers alike. Opened by Loren Coleman in 2003, the museum initially began with just a small collection of artifacts from Coleman’s home. The International Cryptozoology Museum hopes that its mystical exhibits can help spark young people's interest in fields such as zoology, biology, and anthropology.
Petrified Wood Park, Lemmon, South Dakota
The Petrified Wood Park takes up an entire city block in Lemmon, just off U.S. Route 12, and is a sight to behold. Built during the early 1930s, the site contains eerie, tree-like structures made entirely of petrified wood.But, there's plenty more to see in this one-of-a-kind park, including a waterfall, castle, and wishing well — all of which are made of petrified wood.
Petrified Wood Park is also home to two museums. The Petrified Wood Park Museum is particularly striking, crafted from (you guessed it) petrified wood and decked out with a host of intimidating spires along the outer walls. This museum contains a fascinating array of local antiques inside: kerosene lamps, buffalo heads, a replica bread wagon, and even a miniature petrified wood house.
The second museum is slightly smaller and features documents and news articles about the history of this roadside attraction. It’s also home to the park's gift shop, which sells souvenir shirts, postcards, and samples of petrified wood.