Five Can’t-Miss Roadside Attractions for Your Next Road Trip

Once you embark on the great American Road Trip, it’s important to not only make pit-stops out of necessity but you should also plan to “stretch your legs” at some truly unforgettable roadside attractions, like these that were curated by Country Living.

Road trips are an undeniable travel resource that allows you to get to your desired destination at your own pace. Sure, you may have a set window in which you should arrive at Point B, but it’s in the transitional aspects of transit that the truest memories are forged. However, it’s not likely that you’ll select gas station #8 to reminisce about once it’s all said and done. This is exactly why every roadtripper should make it a point to include at least one of the following roadside spectacles on that travel itinerary on their next cross-country voyage. As always, be sure to check recent CDC recommendations and travel restrictions before you pack up the car.

Lucy the Elephant

Standing guard in front of Margate, New Jersey is a 65 ft. tall elephant statue named Lucy. Since being built in 1881,Lucy has served as a spectacle and tourist attraction, tavern house, summer residence, and she is the 12th tallest statue in the United States as well as the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America. In fact, Lucy became an official National Historic Landmark in 1976, joining the ranks of such notable United States Landmarks as the Hoover Dam and Statue of Liberty, and not only can you visit Lucy, but for a small fee, you could even take a guided tour through the gigantic architectural marvel yourself! 

Prada Marfa

Despite its name, this bizarre art project that resembles a Prada boutique stands isolated in Valentine, Texas. Created in 2005, this permanent land art project was a co-production between Ballroom Marfa and the Art Production Fund, and it stands as a testament to pop art, fashion, and baffling juxtaposition. While you can’t enter the shop and peruse the luxury goods from Prada’s 2005 fall collection at this roadside attraction, Prada Marfa will make any picture in which it’s in the background truly unforgettable.

The Parthenon

You know the saying, if you can’t make it to Greece, Nashville’s the next best thing! Proudly located as the centerpiece of Nashville, Tennessee’s premier urban park, Centennial Park, is this full-scale replica of the Athens original. Inside the structure, the architectural focus is on a 42-foot statue of the goddess Athena, just as the original Parthenon.  In addition to this architectural feat, the Parthenon also serves as Nashville’s art museum, housing a permanent installation of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th-century artists. Be sure to add this to your list of roadside attractions if you are passing near the area.

World’s Largest Mailbox

Don’t trust a roadside attraction list if it doesn’t feature a notorious “World’s Largest” entry. This mailbox stands over 5,700 ft. high, overlooking Casey, Illinois where more “World’s Largest” attractions can be found. Though the mailbox holds one of the nine Guinness World Records for “largest things in the world,” but to receive that honor, it needed to be fully functional. So, guests are invited to visit the mailbox, climb the staircase, send a letter of their own, and raise the red flag to signal a mail carrier to deliver it. This attraction is a no-brainer when it comes to a possible photo opportunity, as it’s a perfect sight from the ground-level or within its metal structure.

Carhenge

Rounding out the list is a reliable roadside attraction with an appeal that’s immediately understandable; it’s a replica of the world-famous Stonehenge, but it’s constructed with cars instead of stones. This truly unique sight was constructed in 1987, and it’s open to the public for free during the daylight hours in Alliance, Nebraska.

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Destinations for Traveling Smartly and on a Budget

When planning ahead for a future trip, it’s always beneficial for your itinerary to be safe, organized, and frugal- whenever possible, and with this curated list from Travel + Leisure, a trip’s excitement and fun does not have to break the bank.

It should be noted that traveling in general is complicated right now, so the following list should be taken into account in accordance with local government safety measures, restrictions and individual travelers’ personal health conditions prior to departure. That being said, many have been taking advantage of this frugal brand of trip-planning, known as “budget travel” in light of many being short on discretionary funds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though for many, it’s not seen as a deterrent, as much as it is a reason to travel as smartly as possible–by staying domestic and stretching your dollar as far as it’ll go.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Known today by its nickname, the ”Modern Frontier,” this city combines Western cowboy culture, active stockyards, oil sites, and urban attractions to give a modern-industrial vibe to Oklahoma’s capital city. Tourists and locals alike regularly take a stroll around Scissortail Park or one of the city’s various museums, such as the Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Additionally, this city is known internationally as the Horse Show Capital of the Word with many of the metro-area’s horse shows being free or low-priced. If in the area, be sure to also visit the city’s Bricktown entertainment district, an old warehouse district that’s been transformed into an entertainment hotspot with an aesthetically-scenic cana winding through its streets and in the background of your photographs.

Omaha, Nebraska

Another modernly underrated spectacle of middle America is Nebraska’s Omaha, a big-city hub with charming, small-town appeal. Appearing as an official stop on Lewis and Clark’s National Historic Trail, this city is located on the Missouri River near the Iowa border, and it’s brimming with history as well as attractions. Once unforgettable sight field with educational riches is Pioneer Courage Park, an urban park filled with exhibits of public art with over 100 monumentally-sized bronze sculptures depicting the tale of westward pioneers along 6 blocks of downtown Omaha. Other favorite spots are Kenefick Park, the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, and Durham Museum. Though, no trip to Omaha is complete without a visit to Bob, the city’s unofficial mascot, which is a 3,000 foot pedestrian bridge with both personality and a blue troll named Omar to take pictures with.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

While Philadelphia often gets Pennsylvania’s acclaim and is mistaken for the state’s capital, it’s Harrisburg that actually bears the title alongside a wide assortment of interesting sights and opportunities. One such event is a Willy Wonka-esque trip to Hersheypark, the 1906-founded, chocolate-themed amusement park. Additional offerings of Harrisburg include outdoor events that can take place on or off the Susquehanna River, the cultural enrichment gained by visiting the National Civil War Museum, and the artistic revelry of the Susquehanna Art Museum, which is now housed in a former bank. Though, no trip to Harrisberrg would be complete without a hunt for bargain books at the substantial Midtown Scholar Bookstore, encased in the walls of a renovated 1920’s theatre for the added theatricality and spectacle one can expect from Pennsylvania.

The full list of Travel + Leisure’s cheapest, though most enjoyable, cities in the United States, found here, also has destinations sprawling along America’s three major coasts, and their curated list was created by cross-referencing the most affordable average day rates at hotels in cities cited on Priceline’s list of the Top U.S. Destinations.

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Enjoy a Getaway in Austin

Just a few short decades ago, Austin was known only as a quaint college town with a significant hippie population and quirkiness, but after being greatly publicized as one of the “best places to live” by loads of print and digital media, including this article from Practical Wanderlust, it has exploded into a booming metropolis replete with artists and entrepreneurs, hipsters and hippies, musicians and high-tech professionals. Below we’ve given answers to your now burning questions so you can get started packing.

Who should visit Austin?

Everyone. No, really – family, friends, whoever.  We’re thinking a 15-passenger van could be fun!

What should be done in Austin?

Time for the good stuff – what do we recommend you do based on our research?  Well, everything.  But we can’t list everything for you here, so here’s what caught our eye:

  • Free tours at the Governor’s Mansion & State Capitol, including the legislative chambers and historical artifacts.
  • Contemporary Mexican and Latino art along tree-lined Congress Avenue at the Mexic-Arte Museum.
  • Check out SoCo Shopping District for vintage stores, boutiques, restaurants, street performers and pop-up artisan fairs.
  • Yes, the flying ones.  Between March and November, every night at sunset, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats take flight from under the Congress Avenue Bridge to cross Lady Bird Lake. We suggest enjoying this on a kayak tour or a bike tour.
  • Take in a live music bus tour– a live band on board the bus, and three iconic clubs and venues will give you a taste of the best live music the city has to offer.
  • Take the Weird Austin City Tour and answer questions like: Why is Willie Nelson a king there?What’s with the bats?  Where is the best breakfast taco?

Where you should visit, eat and sleep in Austin?

Wondering where to sleep and eat?  Look no further – we’ve got that covered for you, too!

  • Eats
    • Breakfast tacos from Jo’s Coffee– great coffee & crazy assortment of tacos!
    • 1886 Café & Bakery– homemade gourmet sandwiches, soups, and salads.Definitely try the sinfully famous 1886 Chocolate Cake.
    • Looking for over 350 rotating ice cream flavors? Amy’s Ice Cream has you covered.  How many scoops are you going to try?
    • Take the Secret Austin Food Tour– a little bit of history and A LOT of food.
    • It’s Texas – we can’t leave out BBQ. Set aside a large part of your day for the Wild About Texas BBQ Tour.  Bring your appetite and learn from a pitmaster!
  • Sleeps
    • Heywood Hotel– you can’t go wrong with this renovated 1920s bungalow boutique on the buzzing East Side.
    • Native Hostel– Austin has incredible hostels, including this locale, perfectly located near the artsy East side and the downtown entertainment epicenter.
    • Various AirBnB locations are available too, although there are restrictions. Peruse available rentals nearest your favorite spots or bounce around!

When you should visit Austin?

Year round.  However, spring and fall are the most pleasant with gorgeous weather. This is when the crowds are there with events like the South by Southwest Festival (interactive, film, and music; March) and the Austin City Limits Music Festival (October).

Winters are mild, but summer temps regularly get over 100° – no worries, though, because there’s lots of air conditioning and other places you can cool off.

Why you should visit Austin?

If we have to answer this one, you haven’t been reading. The real question now is why not!? You know you wanna see the bats.  We sure do! So pack your bags, and do your part to “Keep Austin Weird”.

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Is 2020 The Year of The Road Trip?

According to TravelingLifestyle.net, these are the top ten places to visit around the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave if you’re planning a summer holiday this year. From beach holidays, hiking, road trips or camping, there’s something beautiful and fun for every type of vacationer, and it looks like 2020 may be the year of the road trip.  Let’s get packing, but first, make sure you have proper safety measures in place and learn which states are open for visitors!

US Road Trip

If you’re like us, deciding on one spot to visit can be difficult. Nearly all destinations require some sort of road trip to get to – so why not make the whole trip into one big road trip?  Consider planning a route to take in sights on the west coast, east coast, or even cross country.  RoadTripUSA.com provides a great list of the 11 most popular routes.

Los Angeles, California

If you’re looking for fun in the sun this summer, check out beautiful LA.  With so much to do and see, including beaches, theme parks, movie studios, sports and Hollywood tours, you’re certain to be able to find something suitable for everyone and within a reasonable budget.  Other locales nearby to check out include Malibu, Orange County, San Diego and Santa Barbara.

New York City, New York

Take a bite of The Big Apple (once it’s safe), one of the most sensational cities in the world with a spirit unlike anywhere else. Check out the Empire State building, Central Park, and various shops or theatrical productions.  If city life isn’t your speed, check out nearby beaches, including Coney Island, Orchard Beach and Robert Moses State Park.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando is a perfect road trip from Louisiana and a great family destination for a summery holiday.  Not only is Orlando the home of Disneyland, for kids and big kids alike, but they also offer tons more attractions including SeaWorld and Universal Studios. If you get tired of all the theme parks and attractions, you’re just a quick drive to some of the most beautiful beaches and state parks the states have to offer.

San Francisco, California Road Trip

This friendly, cultural city is a well-suited destination for a laidback summer vacation.  A few highlights to enjoy while there are the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Ocean City, Maryland

With its 9 mile long beach, “OC” is a classy vacation destination. Looking for rest and relaxation, complete with culture, restaurants and community events in a friendly/safe environment?  Look no further than Ocean City.  We hear the 4th of July celebration is like no other!

Nashville, Tennessee Road Trip

Famous for its vibrant live music and food scene, Nashville is one of the most fun and lively vacation destination spots to be found. You’re going to love the friendly Southern laid back energy of this destination.

Portland, Oregon

Looking for a splash more green on your road trip holiday?  Check out Portland – a great spot for a family summer with a combination of outdoor beauty and city buzz.  Portland boasts a very cool culture, including a thriving culinary scene, unique markets, beautiful parks and huge bookstores.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If lighthouses, beaches, seafood and quaint villages are more your speed, you’re going to love Cape Cod. This hook-shaped peninsula is like nowhere else in the country and is perfect for those that prefer to lay back and soak it in or go out exploring.

Boston, Massachusetts Road Trip

Full of history and culture, Boston is a great vacation destination for the warmer months of the year.  Check out one of their legendary sports teams or gorgeous parks, or go exploring in their museums, markets, and walking trails.

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Spots to Vacation Near Southeast Louisiana

Need a getaway from southeast Louisiana but don’t want to go too far these days?  These great vacations within driving distance don’t involve flying or cross-country driving – so pack up and hit the road to explore new sights for the summer vacation you deserve.  Below are some spots within a four-hour drive of southeast Louisiana that offer your family an reasonably priced vacation that you won’t soon forget.

Toledo Bend, LA/TX

Located on the Sabine River between Texas and Louisiana, the Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest man made body of water in Texas.  It is also the largest in the South. There are over 1,200 miles of shoreline offering limitless opportunities for outdoor entertainment.  There are both private and public facilities available for swimming, boating, picnicking, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, biking and sightseeing.

Avery Island

Avery Island is the home of TABASCO® Sauce, the famous hot sauce sold around the world.  The McIlhenny family has made the sauce on Avery Island, Louisiana for more than five generations.  The island and factory was built on a salt dome.  It is a beautiful world of wonder where the red peppers grow, the factory churns away, and wildlife inhabits the nearby Jungle Gardens.

The island’s top attractions include the visitor center and the sauce factory, but there is much more to do on the island – “Dine at 1868!” at the home of TABASCO® Sauce, build your own bloody mary drink, and try all of the TABASCO® Family of Flavors®.  You can also take a guided bird tour or a self-guided tour through Jungle Gardens.

Biloxi Vacation

Biloxi is one of the oldest communities in the country, having first been settled in 1699.  Nestled on the shores of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, Biloxi has remained a favorite vacation destination for generations.  Biloxi’s sandy beaches and serene waters are perfect for water skiing or deep-sea fishing.

While a day at the beach is guaranteed to be fun, there are lots of other great experiences like a riverboat tour of the Biloxi Lighthouse, entertainment and shows at a casino, and a host of museums that your family will love.  On your way in, be sure to check out the Biloxi Visitors Center, north of the Biloxi Lighthouse and west of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, on U.S. 90.

Fairhope Vacation

Located another 90 minutes past Biloxi lies another vibrant town that rests on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.  Fairhope is known for its lovely parks and sweeping panoramic views of Mobile Bay. You’ll want to make it a point to visit all of the cafes, art galleries, gift shops and seafood restaurants in Fairhope and the surrounding area.  This is a great destination to just kick back and relax.  The locale offers golf, shopping, fishing, and exceptional seafood – to name a few.  There truly is something for everyone there. We recommend strapping your bike onto your vehicle when you check this place out.  You’ll want to check out all of the biking trails with amazing views of the coastline and historic neighborhoods of Fairhope.

Mobile Vacation

Across Mobile Bay from Fairhope is Mobile, Alabama.  Whether you’re coming through as a tourist, visiting family, or there for a brief stay for business, you’ll find plenty of ways to occupy your free time.  Mobile is one the oldest cities on the Gulf Coast and offers visitors exciting, entertaining and educational experiences year-round. There are loads of things to do when you visit – be it art, Mardi Gras, southern history, good food spots and a surprisingly active nightlife.

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Weirdest Museums in America

America is known for a lot of things, so it’s no surprise that there is a surplus of weird museums for visitors to see. Mashable shares their favorite “weirdest museums” for all of the road-trippers out there looking to add a little variety to their next adventure.

From Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon, there are plenty of weird museums to fill your daily itinerary and learn some strange facts about American inventions and obsessions. From a Maple Museum to a Toilet Seat Art Museum, there is something out there from everyone.

1.  New England Maple Museum-Weirdest Museum

Located in Vermont (because where else would an American maple museum be located?), you can learn about maple syrup’s history dating back to the Native Americans and leading up to modern day, a 200 year coverage.

Then you can check out the gift shop and take some delicious syrup back home with you!

Address: 4578 U.S. 7, Pittsford, Vermont 05763

Admission: $5

2.  The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe

If you find yourself in Richmond, Virginia, you won’t want to miss this museum!

Dedicated to all things Poe, this museum is also located in the oldest standing building in the city. You can expect to find a huge collections of manuscripts, letters, memorabilia, and experience a realistic example of how Poe lived and worked.

Address: 1914-16 East Main St., Richmond, Virginia 23223

Admission: $6

3.  National Mustard Museum-Weirdest Museum

Love condiments? The mustard museum may be just the place for you! You won’t want to miss this Wisconsin sight.

Here you’ll find more than 5,624 different kinds of mustard from 50 states and 70 countries, you’ll even be able to use a one of a kind mustard vending machine!

Address: 7477 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562

Admission: Free

4.  Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum-Weirdest Museum

Yep, you read that right. Barney Smith, a 98 year old proprietor, has a toilet seat art collection he opens to the public every year in Texas.

With over 1,400 decorated toilet seats, Barney makes a new one yearly for his wife to celebrate their anniversary. Somewhat odd, yet somewhat charming.

Address: 239 Abiso, Alamo Heights, Texas 78209

Admission: Free

5.  Idaho Potato Museum

Fried potatoes, baked potatoes, french fries, hash browns, au gratin – if it’s made with potatoes then they’ve got it.

Located in Blackfoot, Idaho, this museum is for all those potato lovers out there! Learn about the

History of farming potatoes and don’t forget to get a picture with the massive potato replica out front!

Address: 130 NW Main St, Blackfoot, Idaho, 83221

Admission: $3

6.  International Banana Museum-Weirdest Museum

Calling all banana lovers! Check out this museum in Mecca, California and see a world-record of 25,000 banana related items and pictures. Don’t forget to try their homemade banana ice cream or milkshakes and then snap a pic with the massive banana statue!

Address: 98775 State Hwy 111, Mecca, California 92254

Admission: Free

7.  Museum of Western Colorado: Dinosaur Journey

Most likely the best dinosaur museum in the country, this museum borders the line between awesome and weird. If you find yourself in Colorado, make sure to swing by and check out the animatronic dinosaurs that eat each other, fossil exhibits, and pre-historic records.

Address: 550 Jurassic Court, Fruita, Colorado 81521

Admission: $8.50

8.  Historic Auto Attractions

This isn’t your average car museum.

Here, you can see the car used in the Batman television series, the DMC DeLorean from Back To The Future, and the paddywagon from Ghostbusters. Make sure you don’t miss the collection of presidential and world leaders limousines and Elvis Presley’s personal car.

Address: 13825 Metric Drive, Roscoe, Illinois 61073

Admission: $12

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