The final destination of a road trip gets a lot of (well-deserved) credit, but it’s often the memories made along the way that stick with you for a lifetime, and a recent collection of the “weirdest” roadside attractions from Thrillist helps you find that “world’s largest insert-object-here” to be found when you’re enroute and looking for a pitstop, distraction, or excuse to simply rest your legs.
While it may seem like the continental United States is randomly “littered” with random madness, know that there’s a method to it all; these oversized cooking utensils and trippy theme parks are situated to lure travelers to roadside attractions off the beaten path, so here’s a suggested list of locations that are considered worth the trip.
Rainbow Rock Shop, Arizona
While Route 66 isn’t quite what it was in the past, there’s still the roadside town of Holbrook to maintain the interstate magic with an unexpectedly dense collection of roadside attractions, cement dinosaurs. These statues, some up to over 25 tall, were constructed personally by the shop’s owner and costs only a few cents to pose with. It’s worth it for the photo evidence alone as you try to convince people that there really is a secret dinosaur haven in the middle of Arizona.
Bishop Castle, Colorado
This roadside attraction is a 160-foot tall stone and steel structure includes two catwalks, a ballroom, four towers and a vast collection of iron railings and flourishes that will make you think you’re in a literal story book. The drawbridge and fire-breathing dragon were built by Jim Bishop, who invites others to walk between the tower’s bridges (at your own risk) or simply admire the impressive decor, ranging from hand-painted signs to a literal axe sticking out of the floor in the castle’s main hall.
Monkey Island, Florida
Located on Florida’s western coast on the Homosassa River is Monkey Island with a name that begs you to see what all the fuss is about. This island is accurately named, as it houses a family of spider monkeys who now live in a caged enclosure, as they used to live on the mainland, harassing tourists by engaging in unlawful activities such as biting, pickpocketing, and vandalism. Take a break, enjoy some food and drink as you watch the monkeys from a safe distance whenever near the Homosassa River.
Doll’s Head Trail, Georgia
Georgia’s Constitution Lakes Park has a special history with its many lakes having been created by rainwater from a halted construction project decades earlier. Because of this, the park is covered in lakes, and a walking trail is lined by a local carpenter’s collected doll parts. Over the years, Joel Slaton has been repurposing junk and abandoned scraps into a muddy, creepy perimeter to this can’t miss patch of Georgian woods.
Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois
Though it’s only half the size of its famed Italian counterpart, this Midwestern version was built in 1934 and allows many tourists to pose for pictures in which they are “pushing” the leaning tower over without having to cross an ocean.
The Paper House, Massachusetts
Ellis Stenman in 1922 had an idea to insulate his summer home in newspaper, and this experiment grew tenfold into an outright obsession that consisted of 100,000 newspapers assembled into an actual house. Rest easy when you visit, as the home’s roof, floors, and frame aren’t made of paper, but the furniture, walls, amongst all else is made of paper, impressing many New England travelers.
Da Yoopers Tourist Trap, Michigan
We end our suggested list poetically, and rightfully with the “World’s Largest Working Chainsaw.” The term “yooper” is sling for a person living in the state’s Upper Peninsula, and this tourist trap is aptly named as it offers travelers with folk art, a tableau of deer drinking beverages, lots of outhouses, a gift shop, and of-course an oversize, but fully functional chainsaw.
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