Whether the phrase came from Ken Burns or a storyteller from another generation, it’s been said that the National Parks are America’s best idea. And while there’s certainly no argument against that statement, it would truly be selling this country’s roadside attractions short to describe them as anything less than a close second.
Make no mistake, these obscure American originals took a backseat for some time, but in recent years, they’ve re-emerged as premiere vacation “destinations.” With gas prices starting to plateau, and people becoming more and more disenfranchised by the inconveniences of air travel, this country’s amazing roadside treasures are primed for more visits than ever before.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of stops from which to choose. So, starting on the Pacific and heading east, check out part one of our state-to-state guide to America’s roadside attractions!
The creators of Igloo City originally intended on running a hotel of sorts. But this ominous-looking, Shining-esque structure never opened for business. Instead, the icy white building now merely serves as the backdrop for a really unforgettable photo op.
Duke Kahanamoku Statue
It really doesn’t matter if visitors to the island of Oahu try to pronounce the Duke’s last name, or even bungle it in the process. The only thing that matters is whether or not people come and pay tribute to this statue of the “Father of International Surfing.”
Trees of Mystery
Thousands upon thousands of sights deserve to be soaked up from the Golden State, including the Trees of Mystery at the top of California’s Redwood Exploitation Zone. If nothing else, it’s the first of many Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox fixes to be found on the map.
The Goonies House
Oregon is jam-packed with miles of natural beauty and its own unique human charm, something most adults these days would have never realized had they not grown up watching the gang from The Goonies. Anyone stopping by Astoria owes their childhood this favor.
Giant Shoe Museum
Displays of dinosaur bones can be found in almost every natural history museum, and yet, how often does society take time to commemorate human giants of the modern era? Celebrate them and the shoes they wore with a visit to the Giant Shoe Museum.
Little Bighorn (Credit: Thinkstock)
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
Big Horn, Montana
Pay homage to the men and horses that gave their lives in the worst military defeat in US history, dubbed “Custer’s Last Stand.” Unlike most other war monuments, Little Bighorn actually gives a fair and unbiased look at both sides and perspectives of the battle.
World’s Largest Jackalope
Is a jackalope a real thing? Don’t ask that in Douglas, Wyoming, where the furry freak was created and is celebrated citywide. From statues to signs to park benches throughout the town, there’s just no escaping the reality of this mythical creature.
Shoshone Ice Caves
A total lack of trees may make it seem as though there’s no attractions in sight, and that’s certainly half right. For a cool Idaho treat, there’s the underground Shoshone Ice Caves, which remain frozen at all times, even when it’s a scorcher up above.