If you’re planning a trip and want to skip the usual ho-hum tourist spots, consider this list mandatory reading. With this catalogue of the weirdest tourist attractions in every state, you will avoid the trap of long lines and underwhelming monuments in favor of some of the lesser-known but no less incredible back road sites throughout America.
Begin thinking of Instagram captions now, because visiting any of these attractions is going to give you crazy good content and a wild story to tell your friends. People will delight in hearing about your adventure to North Dakota’s Enchanted Highway. They’ll revel in your tales of California’s Cabazon Dinosaurs. No one will believe your wild story that there is an Elvis Memorial Chapel in Arizona unless you go and take photos or come back with wacky souvenirs.
So, go for it! Take the road less traveled on your next journey and visit these roadside oddities, enormous ordinary items, and buried bits of history from the weirdest tourist attractions in every state. Everyone gets bored hearing about The Bean in Chicago or M&M’s World in New York anyway.
You wouldn’t ever think Elvis Presley would have a place in Arizona, but “the King” lives on in Apache Junction. The Elvis Memorial Chapel survived the devastating fires at the former Apacheland Movie Ranch and has since been reconstructed at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Guests can see tons of Elvis memorabilia as well as exclusive photos and props from when he filmed the 1969 movie Charro! on the Apacheland Movie Ranch grounds, grounds, including some scenes filmed in this very church.
The next time you’re in Arkansas, be sure to stop by Snake World! Owner Dale Ertel claims that the tourist attraction houses over 70 snakes, which is even more than the Little Rock Zoo. The reviews on Trip Advisor are all glowing, and warn visitors not to be dissuaded by Snake World’s sketchy exterior.
In the middle of nowhere, California, stand the Cabazon Dinosaurs. There are two dinosaurs, and they are glorious — not to mention highly photographed by tourists on their way to vacation in Palm Springs. These dinosaurs are also known for their appearance in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. The long-necked dinosaur also houses stairs and a kitschy toy shop inside its body.
This tiny soda factory is also the oldest bottling plant in New England and has been around for almost 100 years. Tours of Avery’s Beverages are highly coveted, as visitors get to make three bottles of their own soda! Be sure to call in advance before your tour to make sure they are bottling the day you go.
You can see the unofficial postal system mascot, Owney, at the National Postal Museum where he sits wearing a vest decorated with honors for his travels assisting postal professionals. The little dog died in 1897 but has been displayed at the Post Office Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the St. Louis World’s Fair, and the Smithsonian before arriving at his final resting place, where visitors can see him today.
If you’re a big fan of Gone With the Wind you’re going to want to stop by the world’s largest Gone With the Wind collection. It also houses the world’s largest gift shop dedicated to the movie. Originally a part of Cypress Gardens (the home meant to resemble Tara from the film), the memorabilia attraction closed only to be reopened in Plant City.
Want to see the White House without having to go to D.C.? Consider traveling to Atlanta, where they have a replica three-quarters the size! The mini White House used to offer tours of its replica of the Oval Office and the Lincoln bedroom, but now it’s a private home. However, it’s still frequently photographed by on-lookers, because… it’s basically the White House.
The Hotel Kona is home to the world’s most scenic urinal and they are proud of it. Men using the facilities get to enjoy a gorgeous view of the ocean and the green terrain while they relieve themselves. The pink exterior-ed hotel’s manager told Roadside America that she is very proud of her hotel’s bathroom’s inclusion as an odd attraction.
You can take a funny picture with an absolutely enormous Abraham Lincoln in Boise, Idaho. People have enjoyed posing with this comically large statute since its unveiling in 2010.
There is a plaque on one of the rocks in front of a Subway restaurant (that used to be a Baskin Robbins) in the Hyde Park neighborhood in Chicago where Barack and Michelle Obama had their first date and subsequently, their first kiss. Whatever you feel about the Obamas, you must admit this is a pretty adorable memorial. There’s even a quote from Barack that reads: “On our first date, I treated her to the finest ice cream Baskin Robbins had to offer, our dinner table doubling as a curb. I kissed her, and it tasted like chocolate.” Major swoon!
Mentone is known as “the egg basket of the Midwest” — and they have the world’s largest egg to prove it. No, it’s not real, but this enormous cement egg is still well worth taking a photo next to.
If you can’t make it to New York to see the real thing, try road-tripping it to Des Moines for a shot with the mini Statue of Liberty. Located on the east side of the Iowa State capitol, this replica isn’t green like the Lady Liberty we know and love on the East Coast but rather a ghostly white.
Kansas really knows how to appreciate its teachers. The Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame is a must-see kitschy attraction for anyone who wants to show their admiration of the people who taught us to read, count, and spell. There is even a room in the museum devoted to school artifacts like old wooden desks, mimeograph machines, chalkboards, and a piano!
Clearly the town of Hartford has a good sense of humor. "Home of 2000 happy people and a few soreheads," reads the iconic welcome sign. Definitely Instagram that!
Visit Marie Laveau’s grave… if you dare. The notorious Louisiana Voodoo queen may have died in 1881, but it’s still widely believed that her spirit will help you with whatever you need should you leave the right combination of offerings or draw three X’s on her tomb. Unfortunately, due to tons of grave-defacing, the only way to visit her final resting place is by taking a tour with a licensed tour guide.
The inventor of the Ouija Board has the coolest tombstone ever. Carved into the back of Elijah Jefferson Bond’s tombstone is a Ouija Board with the traditional “yes” and “no” in the left and right corners. It’s the perfect spot to snap a cool Instagram or build your Tumblr aesthetic. Recently, someone left a crying-eye planchette on the Ouija Board part of the headstone. Would you dare try to communicate with Mr. Bond?
This statue of a naked boy with a sea turtle is a big (and weird) tourist attraction for its possibly unintentionally suggestive nature. According to Roadside America, the sculptor died before he could complete the statue. We wonder what the finished design was supposed to be.
Located inside Sea Shell City, this enormous man-killing clam is totally kitschy-cool- plus there are kooky signs for it on the road the closer you get. Although the clam is admittedly pretty large, it’s more silly than scary, and it’s one of the most photographed items inside Sea Shell City!
This Paul Bunyan statue stands out because you can sit in his huge palm and take the perfect road-trip vacation photo. Although the crouching figure is currently not technically the tallest Paul Bunyan statue in the U.S., his creators say that if he stood upright he would be about 60 feet fall, making him officially the largest Paul Bunyan.
This Missouri curiosity is an old MFA oil service station that appears to be busy with cars. Upon closer inspection, the cars turn out to be full of mannequins. According to one reviewer, the stuffed monkeys in the taxi cab are rumored to be from the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus!
Only in Omaha can you see a 20-foot-tall man wearing a yellow rain coat, rotating in front of a car wash (and in multiple locations). These car washes are also staffed by much smaller animatronic mannequins, all wearing similar yellow raincoats, to delight and terrify you throughout your car wash experience!
He’s a little creepy, because he appears to be carved out of a dead tree, but he’s also kind of cute! What’s not to like about an enormous hot dog by the side of the road wearing nothing but a baseball cap, a tasteful smear of mustard, a bun, and a charming smile?
If you’re a Hamilton fan, this is a must-see. The actual rock where Alexander Hamilton rested his head after he lost his duel with Aaron Burr is now a monument! Plus it’s seriously close to the Lincoln Tunnel, so you could always see the Broadway show, hop in a cab, and go!
The Tribeca firehouse Hook and Ladder Company 8 was used as the Ghostbusters headquarters in the film Ghostbusters and it’s still around and super easy to get to. This New York City attraction is right off of a subway line and full of nods to its film history. According to Roadside America, when actor Harold Ramis died in 2014, fans set up a memorial on the sidewalk outside of the fire house.
Ever wanted to pet a flamingo? You can pet the birds without the fishy smell or the worry of getting pecked at this plastic flamingo petting zoo in North Carolina! Located in the front yard of a tourist information center next to the highway, this is an incredible Instagram opportunity just waiting to happen. The flamingos aren’t just for petting and photos — they can also be adopted (purchased).
You may think that there is a whole lot of nothing in North Dakota, but you would be wrong. The Enchanted Highway, a creation by retired school teacher and metal sculptor Gary Greff, features fantastical sculptures along an empty road in Regent, North Dakota. Visitors can see enormous birds, grasshoppers, deer jumping fences, fish, seaweed, and even more incredible designs. Greff has also opened the Enchanted Castle Hotel, where guests can stay while taking in his creative constructions, because other hotels may be hard to find. It truly is in the middle of nowhere.
This grave is rumored to belong to Dr. Frankenstein. According to one post on Roadside America, “Rumor has it that a Timken family member in Germany wrote to his successful cousin in America and told him how the grave site of Victor Frankenstein was being defaced and spit upon in their small town. The American Timken and founder of Timken Roller Bearings paid for the remains of the body to be flown to Canton to give Dr. Frankenstein a peaceful resting place.” While the more likely explanation is that the tombstone marks the plot of a family of nineteenth-century immigrants who happened to share the same name as Mary Shelley’s mad scientist, the monument definitely says “Frankenstein.”
The best and weirdest attractions are always large versions of everyday things. Durant’s “World’s Largest Peanut” is no exception. Although the hefty peanut was taken down in 2010 because college kids kept stealing it, it is now back on its pedestal, looking enormous as ever.
South Dakota’s Corn Palace is a magnificent building covered in creative murals made out of corn to resemble various themes. 2016’s theme, which coincidentally was 2017’s theme (for monetary reasons) happened to be “Rock of Ages” and included corn depictions of the likes of Elvis, Willie Nelson, and John Travolta.
This 10-foot-tall, 1,600-pound piece of artwork was originally featured on a comedy show pilot but is now a permanent fixture in Charlottesville, Virginia. Big, pink, and embarrassing, it’s the perfect road trip attraction for using the “I’m just pulling over to use the restroom” excuse.
Hunters once drove herds of bison off the neighboring cliff into this pit to kill them, and over roughly 300 years of use, the site accumulated the remains of between 10,000 to 20,000 buffalo. Visitors and archeologists are welcome, but only 5 percent of the bones have been excavated, so who really knows what could be under there! In the mood for a road trip now? Here are the best places to eat and drink in every state along the way.