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Offbeat Adventures: 10 Quirky Roadside Attractions Across the Land

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Embark on a journey through America’s highways and byways, where the allure of the open road is matched only by the quirky and unusual roadside attractions that dot the landscape. These unique stops, ranging from the whimsical to the downright bizarre, offer a delightful break from the monotony of long drives. This guide introduces you to some of the best roadside attractions, ensuring your road trip is anything but ordinary. Whether it’s giant sculptures, mysterious sites, or kitschy landmarks, these attractions add a dash of fun and a touch of the unexpected to your travels.

1. Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Cheri Alguire

Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska, is an intriguing replica of England’s Stonehenge, but with a twist – it’s made entirely of vintage American cars. This peculiar monument, created by Jim Reinders, has become a beloved roadside attraction. The cars, arranged in a circle and painted gray to mimic the stones of Stonehenge, create a surreal landscape against the backdrop of Nebraska’s plains.

The site also features additional car sculptures, adding to its artistic attraction. It’s a perfect stop for those who appreciate both the mystique of ancient sites and the charm of Americana.

Insider’s Tip: Visit during the summer solstice for special events.

When To Travel: Open year-round, but summer offers the most comfortable weather.

How To Get There: Carhenge is just north of Alliance, accessible via Highway 87.

2. The World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Larry Porges

In Cawker City, Kansas, lies the world’s largest ball of twine, an iconic symbol of American roadside attractions. Started by Frank Stoeber in 1953, the ball has grown to enormous proportions through community efforts and contributions from visitors. This quirky landmark represents the town’s pride and the collective spirit of the people who have added to its size over the years. Visitors are encouraged to contribute to the ball’s growth, making it a living piece of folk art.

Insider’s Tip: Stop by during the annual Twine-a-thon in August to participate in the ball’s growth.

When To Travel: It is accessible year-round, but the Twine-a-thon in August is a special treat.

How To Get There: Cawker City is off Highway 24 in North Central Kansas.

3. Salvation Mountain, Niland, California

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ovidiu Hrubaru

Salvation Mountain, near Niland, California, is a vibrant pilgrimage to one man’s devotion and artistic vision. Leonard Knight created this folk art monument covered in colorful biblical and inspirational messages. Made from adobe, straw, and thousands of gallons of lead-free paint, it uniquely expresses faith and creativity.

With its bright colors and simple yet powerful messages, the mountain offers a visually stunning and thought-provoking experience. It’s a must-visit for art enthusiasts and those seeking a place of peace and positivity.

Insider’s Tip: Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the area can get very hot.

When To Travel: Visit in the cooler months from November to March.

How To Get There: It’s located in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County and accessible via Beal Road.

4. The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz, California

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Iv-olga

The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California, is where the laws of gravity and physics seem to be turned on their head. This circular area, about 150 feet in diameter, is famous for its visual illusions and gravity-defying phenomena.

Whether it’s a natural occurrence or clever engineering, the Mystery Spot offers a fun and mind-boggling experience. The guided tours are entertaining and informative, making it an enjoyable stop for families and curious travelers.

Insider’s Tip: Book tickets in advance, especially during weekends and holidays, as it gets crowded.

When To Travel: Open year-round, but summer offers extended hours.

How To Get There: Located in the redwood forests outside Santa Cruz, off Branciforte Drive.

5. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Erwin Widmer

Cadillac Ranch, an iconic art installation near Amarillo, Texas, is a striking tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Cadillac cars are half-buried nose-first in the ground, with their tail fins pointing skyward. Created in 1974 by a group of artists known as The Ant Farm, the installation has become a symbol of American pop culture.

Visitors are encouraged to leave their mark on the cars with spray paint, making it an interactive art piece. It’s a must-see for those interested in Americana and public art.

Insider’s Tip: Bring your own spray paint to contribute to this ever-changing art piece.

When To Travel: Accessible year-round, but spring and fall offer the most pleasant weather.

How To Get There: Located along I-40 just west of Amarillo.

6. The Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Johnnie Laws

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, is a unique American landmark decorated annually with murals made entirely of corn and other grains. This tradition, dating back to 1892, celebrates South Dakota’s rich agricultural heritage.

The designs are intricate and change yearly, making each visit a new experience. Inside, the palace is a multi-use center with exhibits on its history and the corn mural process. It’s a fascinating stop for those interested in folk art and agrarian traditions.

Insider’s Tip: Check out the annual Corn Palace Festival in late August for extra festivities.

When To Travel: Open year-round, but the new murals are usually completed by late August.

How To Get There: Situated in downtown Mitchell, it is easily accessible from I-90.

7. The Enchanted Highway, Regent, North Dakota

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Larry Porges

The Enchanted Highway in North Dakota offers a unique driving experience with its series of large scrap metal sculptures. Stretching 32 miles from Gladstone to Regent, these sculptures, including “Geese in Flight” and “The Tin Family,” are among the world’s largest.

Created by local artist Gary Greff to revive his hometown of Regent, the sculptures turn the highway into an open-air art gallery. The drive itself is a peaceful journey through North Dakota’s picturesque landscapes.

Insider’s Tip: End your drive in Regent to visit the Enchanted Highway Gift Shop.

When To Travel: Best visited in the summer or early fall for pleasant driving conditions.

How To Get There: Starts at Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and ends in Regent.

8. The Jolly Green Giant Statue, Blue Earth, Minnesota

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Steve Cukrov

The Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota, is a towering homage to the Green Giant vegetable company. This 55-foot-tall statue of the iconic green mascot is a popular photo stop for travelers. The statue, with its friendly smile and welcoming pose, embodies the spirit of fun that characterizes many American roadside attractions. Nearby, the Green Giant Museum allows you to explore the history of the company and its famous figures.

Insider’s Tip: Visit the nearby Green Giant Museum to learn about the history of this iconic figure.

When To Travel: Accessible year-round, but summer is the best time for a visit.

How To Get There: Located just off I-90, at the intersection with Highway 169.

9. The Big Banana, Coffs Harbour, Australia

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alex Cimbal

The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, Australia, is one of the country’s most famous “big things” and a classic example of an oversized roadside attraction. Built in 1964 to highlight the area’s banana industry, the Big Banana has evolved into a fun park with attractions like a water park, ice skating rink, and a banana-themed educational tour. It’s a fun stop for families and anyone looking to add a bit of whimsy to their road trip.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss the banana-themed souvenirs at the gift shop.

When To Travel: Enjoyable year-round, but the summer months offer more activities.

How To Get There: Located on the Pacific Highway just north of Coffs Harbour.

10. The UFO Watchtower, Hooper, Colorado

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / TLF Images

The UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado, offers a unique experience for those intrigued by the unknown. This observation platform and garden, adorned with alien-themed sculptures and a designated “vortex” area, provide a panoramic view of the San Luis Valley, known for its high number of UFO sightings.

The site has become a gathering place for UFO enthusiasts and curious travelers. Camping is available, allowing visitors to stargaze and perhaps catch a glimpse of something unexplained.

Insider’s Tip: Camp overnight for a chance to stargaze and maybe spot a UFO.

When To Travel: Summer offers the best chance for clear skies and UFO events.

How To Get There: Located off Highway 17 in the San Luis Valley.

The Bottom Line

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / AlessandroBiascioli

These quirky and unusual stops enrich your road trip adventure, each adding a unique flavor to your journey. From monumental artworks to mysterious sites, these attractions break the monotony of long drives, offering delightful surprises around every bend. Watch for these hidden gems that make every journey memorable as you hit the road. Happy travels!

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The post Offbeat Adventures: 10 Quirky Roadside Attractions Across the Land republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / OPOLJA.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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