The U.S. is actually a treasure trove of weird attractions. From the furthest reaches of Maine to the coldest parts of Alaska, visitors will find all kinds of oddities dotting main and back roads that are made by locals, are the stuff of local legends, or are relics of historic events.
These spots are the perfect place to stop on your next road trip or to earnmark for a quick side trip on your next jaunt around the country. The Active Times has scoured the internet for reviews of kooky landmarks and weird attractions to bring you the absolute best of the best.
People will delight in hearing about your adventure to North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway. They’ll revel in your tales of California’s Cabazon Dinosaurs. No one will believe your wild story that there is an Elvis Memorial Chapel in Arizona unless you go and take photos or come back with wacky souvenirs.
Take the road less traveled on your next journey and visit these roadside oddities, enormous ordinary items, and buried bits of history from the weirdest tourist attractions in every state.
Known for being the white dress-shirt capital of America, the town of Andalusia, Alabama, hosts an enormous white shirt sign as a reminder of that. According to Roadside America, the tie is changed seasonally on this weird tourist attraction.
This Anchorage shop’s enormous needle is a must-see if you’re into tattoos. On display in the parking lot of a tattoo parlor, this needle is truly eye-catching — so much so that it’s become a major tourist photo op spot.
If you’re an Elvis fan in Arizona, the Elvis Memorial Chapel is the perfect spot to visit. The Elvis Memorial Chapel survived the devastating fires at the former Apacheland Movie Ranch and has since been reconstructed at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Guests can see tons of Elvis memorabilia as well as exclusive photos and props from when he filmed the 1969 movie “Charro!” on the Apacheland Movie Ranch grounds, including that very church.
Left: Map data ©2018 Right: istockphoto.com
There are more snakes in Snake World than there are at the Little Rock Zoo, according to owner Dale Ertel. The reviews on Trip Advisor are all glowing, and they warn visitors not to be dissuaded by Snake World’s sketchy exterior.
Two of the most photographed things in the high desert of California are the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Tourists on their way to vacation in Palm Springs stop by these massive dinosaur statues that seemingly appear out of thin air. Think you might recognize them? These dinosaurs starred in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.”
This enormous fork sculpture by Ted Yund in Creede, Colorado, is the largest fork in the United States. It’s over 40 feet long and weights over 600 pounds, breaking the record of the previous world’s largest fork, which was in Springfield, Missouri.
This tiny soda factory has been around for almost 100 years. Avery’s Beverages is the oldest bottling plant in New England, and tours are highly coveted as visitors get to make three bottles of their own soda! Be sure to call in advance before your tour to make sure they are bottling the day you go.
It’s super-cute and also kind of morbid, but guests can visit the unofficial postal system mascot, Owney, at the National Postal Museum, where he sits wearing a vest decorated with honors accrued during his travels assisting postal professionals. Owney has been dead since 1897 but was stuffed and displayed at the Post Office Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the St. Louis World’s Fair and the Smithsonian before being moved to his final resting place, where visitors can see him today.
Think of it as a metaphor. Delaware’s Fountain of Youth was discovered in 1631, making it one of (if not the) oldest claimed-to-be fountains of youth, and it now sits totally dry. Only a small gazebo and a sign marks the spot where the supposedly magic waters once were.
This “Gone With the Wind” attraction was once closed for good but re-opened due to public outcry in Plant City, Florida. It houses the world’s largest gift shop dedicated to the movie “Gone With the Wind.”
The best way to see a tiny version of the White House is to visit Georgia. This Atlanta replica is only three-fourths the size of the actual thing. How cute! The mini White House used to have tours of its replica of the Oval Office and the Lincoln bedroom, but now it’s a private home. However, it’s frequently photographed by on-lookers because… it’s basically the White House.
It’s relief for the eyes and for your bladder. Within the pink exterior of the Hotel Kona is the world’s most scenic urinal, and the hotel is very proud of it. Men using the facilities get to enjoy a gorgeous view of the ocean and the green terrain while they relieve themselves. The hotel’s manager told Roadside America that she is very proud of her hotel’s bathroom’s inclusion as an odd attraction.
Left: Dreamstime; Right: istockphoto.com
The man was tall, but the legend is even bigger. In Boise, visitors clamor to take pictures with an absolutely enormous Abraham Lincoln statue.
The most romantic thing in Chicago is the plaque dedicated to the place where Michelle and Barack Obama shared their first kiss. It’s now in front of a Subway restaurant (which used to be a Baskin Robbins) in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. Whatever you feel about Obama, you must admit this is a pretty adorable memorial. There’s even a quote from Obama that reads: “On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as a curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.” Major swoon!
Mentone is known as “the egg basket of the Midwest” and they have the world’s largest egg to prove it. No, it’s not real, but if you love taking photos next to big food or weird attractions, this is definitely something to add to your collection.
Left: Dreamstime; Right: istockphoto.com
Why bother going to New York when you can drive to Des Moines? This Iowa city is home to a mini Statue of Liberty. Located on the east side of the Iowa State capitol, this replica isn’t green like the lady liberty we know and love on the East Coast but rather a ghostly white.
US Department of Education/Wikimedia commons
The Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame is a must-see kitschy attraction for anyone who wants to express their admiration for the people who taught us to read, count, and spell. There is even a room in the museum devoted to school artifacts like old wooden desks, mimeograph machines, chalkboards, and a piano! Sounds like the perfect spot for a field trip!
Visitors love to Instagram this silly sign. "Home of 2000 happy people and a few soreheads," reads the iconic Harford welcome plaque. Wouldn’t it be funny if the soreheads had signs designating who they are!
Left: istockphoto.com; Right: Louisiana State
Get in touch with your spooky side at this New Orleans gravesite. Notorious Voodoo queen Marie Laveau has laid entombed since 1881, but it’s still widely believed that her spirit will help you with whatever you need should you leave the right combination of offerings or draw three X’s on her tomb. Even spookier, the only way to visit her tomb is by group tour. That means you’ll be making your offering in front of a lot of people.
Michael G McKinne/Shutterstock.com
If this isn’t the most Instagrammed spot in Maine, it should be. The L.L. Bean flagship store has a 16-foot-tall rubber boot in front of it, perfect for posing with however you choose.
Something Original/Wikimedia Commons
Rest in… the coolest headstone ever. Elijah Jefferson Bond, the inventor of the Ouija board, has the coolest tombstone we have ever seen. Carved in the back is a Ouija board with the traditional “yes” and “no” in the left and right corners. It’s the perfect spot to snap a cool Instagram or build your Tumblr aesthetic. Recently, someone left a crying-eye planchette on the Ouija board part of the headstone. Would you dare try to communicate with Mr. Bond?
If you enjoy unintentionally suggestive statues or art, this Worcester work of a naked boy with a sea turtle is a big (and weird) tourist attraction. According to Roadside America, the sculptor died before he could complete the statue. We wonder what the finished design was supposed to be??
Sea Shell City is an iconic place to pull over and enter, but it’s really this one attraction that visitors stay for. Their enormous man-killing clam is totally kitschy-cool. The clam is pretty large, but it’s more silly than scary. Don’t worry, it won’t bite you if you take a picture with it.
Edgar Lee Espe/Shutterstock.com
You can sit in Paul Bunyan’s huge palm and take the perfect road-trip vacation photo at this Akeley attraction. Although he is currently not the tallest Paul Bunyan statue in the U.S., his creators say that if he stood upright he would be about 60 feet fall, making him semi-officially the largest Paul Bunyan.
Left: Map data ©2018 Google; Right:istockphoto.com
Left: Map data ©2018; Right: istockphoto.com
If you’re looking for the creepiest roadside attraction, this old MFA oil service station that appears to be busy with cars is certainly it. Upon closer inspection, the cars are eerily full of mannequins! According to one reviewer, the stuffed monkeys in the taxi cab are rumored to be from the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. Depressing!
Russell Speeders Car Wash/Yelp
Known as the “Spinning Yellow Giant” this 20-foot-tall man wearing a yellow rain coat rotates in front of an Omaha car wash. The enormous man is also joined by smaller animatronic mannequins (also wearing yellow raincoats) throughout your car wash experience!
This might be the weirdest tourist attraction on our list. This hot dog man is carved out of a dead tree and smiles at passersby on the road. Alternatively, this enormous hot dog man wearing a baseball cap is also kind of cute!
If you’re a “Hamilton” fan, this is a must-see. The actual rock where Alexander Hamilton rested his head after he lost his duel with Aaron Burr is now a monument! Plus, it’s seriously close to the Lincoln Tunnel, so you could always see the Broadway show, hop in a cab, and go!
This former UFO crash site is a big tourist attraction for sci-fi junkies and alien lovers. Supposedly, a UFO crash-landed on this site in 1948. Now all that remains is a plaque with the gory details of the crash and some rocks gathered into the shape of an alien’s face.
Joi Ito/Wikimedia Commons
This New York City attraction is right off of a subway line and full of nods to its film history. According to Roadside America, when actor Harold Ramis died in 2014, fans set up a memorial on the sidewalk outside of the fire house.
Left: Map data ©2018 Google; Right:istockphoto.com
This fun attraction is all fake! Cedar Point is home to the only plastic flamingo petting zoo in North Carolina! Located in the front yard of a tourist information center next to the highway, this is an incredible Instagram opportunity just waiting to happen. The flamingos aren’t just for petting and photos — they can also be adopted (purchased).
The Enchanted Highway, a creation by retired school teacher and metal sculptor Gary Greff, features fantastical sculptures along an empty road in Regent, North Dakota. Visitors can see enormous birds, grasshoppers, deer jumping fences, fish, seaweed, and even more incredible designs. Greff has also opened the Enchanted Castle Hotel where guests can stay while taking in his creative creations because other hotels may be hard to find… it truly is “in the middle of nowhere.”
Left: istockphoto.com; Right:Universal Studios/Wikimedia Commons
This grave is rumored to belong to Dr. Frankenstein. According to one post on Roadside America, “Rumor has it that a Timken family member in Germany wrote to his successful cousin in America and told him how the grave site of Victor Frankenstein was being defaced and spit upon in their small town. The American Timken and founder of Timken Roller Bearings paid for the remains of the body to be flown to Canton to give Dr. Frankenstein a peaceful resting place.” Who knows if it’s true!
Again, if you love big versions of everyday items, you’ve got to check out the world’s largest peanut! It was repeatedly removed from its pedestal because high schoolers kept stealing it, but it’s back now in all of its glory.
Left:Map data ©2018 Google; Right:istockphoto.com
According to one reviewer, “The funny thing about the Memorial Toilet, according to my mom who lives in Estacada (and it's where I grew up), is that the guy it was named for was alive when they built the ‘memorial toilet’ in his honor.”
Jeff Kubina/Wikimedia Commons
The coolest part about this coffee pot-shaped building is that you can go into it. There is even a gift shop next door!
What’s cuter than Mr. Potato Head? Mrs. Potato Head. She stands 6 feet tall in her bikini and sunglasses at the Westerly State Airport greeting visitors. She is certainly one hot potato!
South Dakota’s Corn Palace is a magnificent building covered in creative murals made out of corn to resembles various themes. The theme throughout 2016 and 2017, for instance, was “Rock of Ages” and included corn depictions of the likes of Elvis, Willie Nelson, and John Travolta. The current theme is a salute to the military.
Left: Dreamstime; Right: Denny-Moeller terms Talent, Inc./Wikimedia Commons
This tribute to country star Minnie Pearl is made entirely of chicken wire. The 8-foot-high chicken wire sculpture that was, designed to resemble the folksy comedian’s, was donated to the town of Centerville once completed.
No, you won’t be able to see a dead body if you look in — it’s been quite a while since Timothy Clark Smith was buried in 1893. TCS’s grave was outfitted with a little window because Mr. Smith feared being buried alive. Now it’s just a spooky tourist attraction in Vermont.
AFP/Getty Images/The Active Times
Haters might not believe it, but this Aberdeen location is supposedly where Kurt Cobain lived in a refrigerator box. This is the former home of Dale Crover (aka the first drummer of Nirvana) and Nirvana fans take pictures of the enclosed entryway where the rocker frontman Kurt Cobain resided.
A 6-foot tall statue of Pope John Paul II holds his arms open outside Generations Restaurant and Pub in West Virginia. The statue was commissioned by restaurant owner Mike Duplaga Jr. after seeing the impressive 45-foot-tall version in Poland. Now it’s a great reason to visit West Virginia!
Jeff the quiet/Wikimedia Commons
This pit is full of the bones of an estimated 20,000 buffalo. Visitors and archeologists are welcome, but only 5 percent of the bones have been excavated, so quite a few more bones could be under there! If the weather is bad, there are also a bunch of fun indoor places you can check out if it's too cold or rainy outside.
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