There are still a few good weeks left in road trip season, so there’s no better time to celebrate some of the best, the weirdest, the biggest, and the downright strangest slices of Americana that await you on the roads of this great country.
Every road tripper has had those moments — you’re 8 hours into your drive and you don’t think you can look at one more mile of corn fields. Then, suddenly, hope arrives in the form of a billboard:
You won’t believe your eyes!
Exit 123, 14 Miles West
Your summer road trip wouldn’t be complete without a spontaneous stop to enjoy these oddities. I mean, when else would you get to visit a museum devoted to fake frogs or snap a selfie with a 1,700-pound moose sculpture made of chocolate?
That’s why we created this (completely subjective) map of the craziest roadside attractions in each state. Some of them are exactly what they sound like (the world’s largest toilet, for example), some are must-see natural wonders, and some are just plain obscure (we’ll talk about those later). But all are worth a look if you’re in the neighborhood.
Click on the infographic to expand.
The best of the weirdest
Since a few of the attractions on the map above might leave you scratching your head, here’s the rundown on the less, um, self-explanatory entries.
Colorado — Mike, the Headless Chicken
In 1945, a Fruita, CO, farmer tried to behead a rooster for dinner. The unfortunate fowl, now named Mike, didn’t die. In fact he ran around like … well … you know, for 18 months. Mike the Headless Chicken has since become a figurehead in Fruita (how’s that for irony?). So much so, in fact, they’ve erected a statue in his honor (and even have a festival in his name every year).
Hawaii — The Thurston Lava Tube
The Thurston Lava Tube wins the award for most exotic on this list. Nestled in the lush forests of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the tube is an old cave that carried molten lava as recently as 500 years ago.
Massachusetts — Profile Rock
This prolific piece of granite near Freetown, MA, takes the form of a distinctive profile and has been the site of numerous odd goings-on — from cults to sightings of UFOs and ghosts. Yikes. Might want to do this one in the daytime.
Missouri — Jesse James Home Museum
In this shrine to one of America’s most notorious criminals, you can see how famous bank robber Jesse James lived — and died. He was shot to death in this little white house in St. Joseph, MO.
North Dakota — The Enchanted Highway
How do you liven up a monotonous 30-mile stretch of highway on the Great Plains? Giant scrap-metal sculptures, of course. The stretch of highway between the remote towns of Gladstone and Regent, ND, boasts some of the largest (and most unexpected) scrap-metal statues in the world. Check out the giant (and slightly creepy) family of farm workers made of tin.
Oklahoma — The Golden Driller
If you haven’t seen the Golden Driller, you haven’t seen Tulsa. The towering 76-foot-tall oil man rests his hand on an oil derrick as a monument to the area’s oil industry.
Oregon — The Oregon Vortex
At the Oregon Vortex, the laws of physics are turned on their heads. Or maybe it’s just a house that slid off its foundation and creates some slanted visual effects. You be the judge.
Rhode Island — Gravestone of a Real Vampire
Ok, maybe not a real vampire. When a rash of deaths hit the Brown family of Exeter, RI, in 1892, people suspected that undead forces may be playing a role in the family’s misfortune. So, like any rational family would do, they exhumed the body of Mercy, their recently deceased daughter. They found that her body had barely decomposed, so, of course, they burnt her heart and re-buried her. Turns out it was tuberculosis the whole time, but that didn’t stop her gravestone from becoming a draw for vamp-enthusiasts.
South Dakota — Petrified Wood Park
If your summer road trip takes you through the South Dakota town of Lemmon (maybe it’s a long shot, but you never know), be sure to make a stop at this city-block-sized park with hundreds of petrified wood sculptures.
Wyoming — Devils Tower
If all that time sitting in the car makes you a little stir crazy, Devils Tower is the place to use up some of that energy. This natural wonder is a stone tower that rises out of the rolling prairies of northeastern Wyoming and is one of the best rock-climbing destinations in the country.