Once upon a time, society relied on a certain time-tested art of the road. People would pack their cars to capacity and hit the asphalt in search of obscurity, on or off the map. It was the era of the road trip and, no doubt, it was a good time to be alive.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, that art got lost. Exploring took a backseat to watching reality TV. And, for a time, it seemed the wonders of the roadside, or at least our interest in them, were facing extinction. Luckily for Americana though, media was about to go social.
Posting pics and tales from their travels online, certain heroes of the niche were buckling up, heading back out and proving the value of the road along the way. Continuing to seek, search and inspire society’s wanderlust, these people and their journeys pushed others off the couches and out into the world too.
Which brings it all back to the present. Anyone and everyone is looking to create their own epic story, if only to post online. And there’s no more colorful way to do so than by visiting America’s roadside attractions!
Starting where the first installment left off, part two of our state-to-state guide to the country’s roadside attractions makes its way east, toward the Atlantic from the middle of America.
World’s Largest Six-Pack
La Crosse, Wisconsin
When it comes to kitsch, there isn’t a state across this great land that comes close to Wisconsin. So, when passing through the Badger State, head over to the world’s largest six-pack to quickly quench the thirst for quirk before moving on to the next great stop.
Can’t get to Anaheim to visit Mickey and the gang any time soon? Well then, just make it up to Michigan to see Hamtramck Disneyland, a collage of backyard “folk art.” It bears little to no resemblance to the park that Walt built, but it’s still a spectacle nonetheless.
Captured Leg of Santa Anna
There’s no better way to pay back the villain who killed Davy Crockett than to put his wooden leg on display. The attraction splintered from the Alamo long ago, and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s fake appendage now calls Springfield home.
A Town Named Santa Claus
Santa Claus, Indiana
Santa Claus is real all right, though he’s not so much a person as much as a people who collectively decided to name their town after the Christmas icon. Since then, the spirit of the season has taken over every corner, and pulls in thousands of visitors all year long.
Jungle Jim’s International Market
While a visit to the house from A Christmas Story is difficult to turn down, one simple stop at Jungle Jim’s will erase any regret in that decision. Packed with animatronic mascots and displays, it’s the only grocery store that offers tour guides for the shopping experience.
Congressional Bunker (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The Congressional Bunker
White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
Had the Cold War gotten out of hand, and a nuclear war actually broke out, then the leaders of the land would have called this place home for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, that never happened, leaving behind a tax-funded relic for everyone else to tour.