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.


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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Roadside Attractions For Your Next Road Trip

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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