Top 10 Weirdest Roadside Attractions
Ah, the Great American Roadtrip. Miles of fast, straight roads, beautiful and ever-changing scenery – it’s an American tradition for a reason. So, what makes a great roadtrip? Is it the company? Or the car snacks? What about the giant termite by the roadside? Well, that’s specifically for travelers on I-95, near Providence, RI, but the roadside is host to a huge number of bizarre attractions and wherever you go, you’re bound to find something interesting to look at. Find out which ones are weirder than others, in our Top 10 Weirdest Roadside Attractions.
10. Cadillac Ranch, TX
This art installation has been an icon of Route 66 ever since 1974, when it was installed by a group of hippes, funded by local billionaire Stanley Marsh 3. The Cadillac are positioned into the ground at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Gaza and are meant to represent the evolution of the Cadillac’s tailfin.
The land it sits on is privately owned, but visiting and graffiti-ing is not discouraged. In fact, the graffiti is what makes the Cadillacs so colorful. At one point they were repainted to their original colors, but only a day elapsed before the first bit of graffiti appeared (although graffiti is illegal in the State of Texas). The ranch has become such a symbol of the Mother Road that when Pixar made their Route 66-themed film “Cars“, the mountains outside the town were called “The Cadillac Range” in tribute, and were at the same angle as the ones on the ranch. . A neat way to introduce the ranch to the next generation!
9. Enchanted Forest, OR
As you’re driving down Interstate 5, look out for the black and white timbered house 7 miles south of Salem. It may just look like a piece of eccentric architecture- perhaps from some German settlers – but it is actually the gateway to the Enchanted Forest theme park. The park is themed around fairy tales and fantasy and includes a European Village and the “Challenge of Mondor”, an adventure ride that opened in 2006.
The park was built in 1964 by Roger Tofte with “very little time or money”. Construction almost bankrupted the Toftes, and friends teased them about “Idiot Hill” – the project that seemed like it would never be fruitful. But the park eventually opened in 1971 and was a success from the start, with 1,000 visitors on the second day. A strange piece of roadside fantasy, but worth a look!
8. Perry’s Nut House ME
What is the natural partner to peanuts? “Taxidermy!” I hear you cry. And you’d be right -at Perry’s Nut House you can both explore the history of nut retail and take in some fine specimens of dead animals. It was opened in 1927 by I.L. Perry, selling pecans and other nuts but also displayed some “curios” he had collected on his travels, including a water buffalo shot by Teddy Roosevelt.
In 1997, many of the pieces were sold and it seemed like the Nut House would close forever, but it reopened by popular demand in 2004 and still sells fudge and nuts to customers that come in search of the stuffed gorilla and funhouse mirror. A curiosity to see if you’re ever on the Maine coast.
7. John Dillinger Museum, IN
How about a roadside attraction with a moral learning opportunity? The take-home message of the John Dillinger Museum is “Crime Doesn’t Pay” and it’s not very subtle. It looks at the life (and specifically death) of gangster John Dillinger and the early years of the FBI, as they chased the Dillinger gang. When the attraction opened in 1999, locals were concerned that it might glorify crime – hence the strong anti-crime message.
It’s an interesting collection, including Dillinger’s “death trousers” which he was wearing when he died, and his wooden gun. And don’t worry, it won’t make impressionable children want to take up a career as a gangster – they’ve made sure of that.
6. Spongeorama, FL
Ever wondered about the history of sponge-collectors in Florida? Don’t worry, there’s a museum in Florida that caters to just that need. Spongerorama boasts the “World’s largest selection of natural sea sponges” and you can enjoy a movie all about the sponge industry while you contemplate which sponge-related product to buy, out of their extensive range.
If you think it sounds less than thrilling, you’re not alone. One reviewer said “The museum is in need of a renovation and the movie they show at the museum is dreadfully boring and out of date, but the museum is FREE. How can you really complain about a free museum tour and video?” Hmm, maybe you can complain because it’s “dreadfully boring”? Others say it’s fascinating, so head to Tarpon Springs and judge for yourself!
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