The Best Roadside Attractions in Each U.S. State, Ranked

Photo Courtesy: Hgtravl/TripAdvisor

Sure, the U.S. is known for its varied natural beauty, but nothing says “Americana” like a cheesy roadside attraction. However, there’s more to pitstops than the largest ball of twine. We’ve weeded through the downright silly to find each state’s hidden must-see site.

Sometimes the journey is better than the destination — or at least more unique. Read on to see which state’s best human-made roadside attraction tops our list.

#50. Rock Zoo | Hollywood, Alabama: Thanks to some oddly shaped limestone boulders, a few cans of paint and one farmer’s creativity, Alabama is home to the country’s premier Rock Zoo. Simple? Yes. Still, don’t take these animals for granite.

Photo Courtesy: BGBark/TripAdvisor

#49. Noah’s Ark | Frostburg, Maryland: Re-build it and they will come — preferably in pairs of two. That must’ve been the thought process here. Currently, the ark is still under construction, so you won’t exactly see tourists flooding Frostburg any time soon.

Photo Courtesy: @PRAnthonywrite/Twitter

#48. The Mothman Museum | Point Pleasant, West Virginia: The man, the moth, the myth — well, scratch that last one if you plan on visiting Point Pleasant. Inside, you’ll find newspaper clippings about reported sightings of the Mothman and props from the Richard Gere film The Mothman Prophecies (2002).

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#47. Lucy | Margate, New Jersey: A giant roadside creature and/or enlarged piece of furniture/junk had to make our countdown — so who better than Lucy, the six-story elephant? Built near Atlantic City in 1881 to attract real estate buyers, Lucy’s reportedly the oldest bit of novelty architecture around.

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#46. Oasis Bordello Museum | Wallace, Idaho: Hey, it’s not every day you can pay $5 to tour a bordello with a busload of people. Located inside a little mining town’s former bordello, this museum preserved the look of the business, which closed in 1988.

Photo Courtesy: mel_rainbowchildcare/TripAdvisor; Owner/TripAdvisor

#45. Space Capsule | Winganon, Oklahoma: No, this capsule isn’t from some Cold War-era space endeavor gone awry — it’s just a spruced up cement mixer. Local artists turned the discarded object into a landmark on the otherwise unremarkable stretch of farm road.

Photo Courtesy: @SweetTea_Pasta/Twitter

#44. Carhenge | Alliance, Nebraska: As the name implies, this replica of England’s Stonehenge was built out of vintage automobiles in 1987. Clearly, motorists never tire of this tried-and-true stop. Also off Highway 87? Nebraska’s hay-bale rest area.

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#43. The Oregon Vortex | Gold Hill, Oregon: Quite a few states claim to have cheesy “mystery spots” like this site — places filled with optical illusions or that seemingly defy gravity. But the Oregon Vortex is probably the best of them. Bonus: It helped inspire the animated hit Gravity Falls.

Photo Courtesy: TJCastle/TripAdvisor; @spindlypete/Twitter

#42. The Fantastic Umbrella Factory | Charlestown, Rhode Island: Despite the odd name, Charlestown’s hidden gem is actually a bunch of converted barns that house shops stocked by local craftspeople. Not into shopping? Lounge in the lush gardens or take in some of the folk art.

Photo Courtesy: Elida G./TripAdvisor; NewEnglandGoodLife/TripAdvisor

#41. Mount Rushmore National Monument | Keystone, South Dakota: Yes, Mount Rushmore is a head above many of the sites on this list — at least from a marketing perspective. However, see it because it’s synonymous with Americana and just know it probably won’t rock your world.

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#40. Big Boy Statue | Near Wapiti, Wyoming: If you’re on the road to Yellowstone, you may notice a fiberglass Big Boy statue, hawking burgers all alone in a stretch of field some distance from the road. It has real Route 66 vibes. (Wholesome!) And real Vault Boy vibes. (Less wholesome.)

Photo Courtesy: @derekbruff/Twitter

#39. Doll’s Head Trail | Near Atlanta, Georgia: Constitution Lakes Park is a nature preserve filled with scenic wetlands, Flickr-worthy factory ruins and found art. Mostly of the decapitated toy doll variety. Come for the views, but stay for the creepiness factor.

Photo Courtesy: Left & Center: @41Strange/Twitter; Right: @priamaha/Twitter

#38. Afterglow Vista | Roche Harbor, Washington: Rife with symbolism, this mausoleum houses the McMillins, a family of mineral magnates. In the center of the columns, you’ll find a stone dinner table, and, when the summer sun hits it just right, the site really looks like something out of Narnia.

Photo Courtesy: @twinfoolz/Twitter

#37. Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex | Near Grand Forks, North Dakota: Several installations from the U.S. Army’s Safeguard anti-ballistic missile program dot this barren landscape, but the pyramid-like building seen here definitely screams “dystopian YA novel” the most.

Photo Courtesy: @richard_littler/Twitter

#36. Edisto Mystery Tree | South Carolina: Not far from the intersection of Highway 174 and Botany Bay Road stands the Edisto Mystery Tree. Although the tree is leaf-less, locals adorn it in seasonal decorations — a tradition without obvious roots.

Photo Courtesy: IllinoisHorseSoldier/Creative Commons/Flickr

#35. Futuro House | Carlisle, Ohio: Along Route 123, you’re sure to come across the Futuro House. Built in the 1960s to be lightweight and easily transportable, the structure looks like something out of a B-movie version of the space age.

Photo Courtesy: @talksmart/Twitter

#34. Margaret’s Grocery | Vicksburg, Mississippi: On Highway 61, you’re sure to run into Margaret’s Grocery. Although it looks abandoned now, it was a lively place for years, especially after the grocery store was transformed by Margaret and her husband Reverend Dennis into a folk art-laden ministry.

Photo Courtesy: Peter Burka/Creative Commons/Flickr

#33. Oddporium | Wilmington, Delaware: A cabinet of curiosities certainly deserves to be on our list. Enter Delaware’s Oddporium, a museum/store hybrid that’s self-described as a “gallery of the peculiar and the bizarre.” All of your standard fare — pigs in jars, human skeletons, etc. — is on view.

Photo Courtesy: @oddporium/Twitter

#32. Grave With a Window | New Haven, Vermont: Most of the gravemarkers at Evergreen Cemetery are nothing to gawk at, but Timothy Clark Smith, a 19th-century doctor, made a special request. Fearing he’d be buried alive, he had a window installed. Talk about a tomb with a view…

Photo Courtesy: @RoseZolock/Twitter

#31. Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park | Phillips, Wisconsin: The 200+ sculptures are made of concrete and decorated with glass bottles. That said, while there’s nothing abstract about the art here, exploring the park makes for a fun time.

Photo Courtesy: manders2016/TripAdvisor

#30. Abenaki Tower | Near Tuftonboro, New Hampshire: If you’re looking for amazing views of Lake Winnipesaukee without a steep admission price — we’re looking at you, Castle in the Clouds… — hike to this former fire tower off Highway 109.

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#29. Terra Studios | Fayetteville, Arkansas: Over 100 regional artists have added their touches to the sculptures, murals, fountains and galleries that make up Terra Studios. Interested in glass-blowing? Watch artists make some of the studios’ famed Bluebirds of Happiness.

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#28. Bishop Castle | Rye, Colorado: Named after its constructor Jim Bishop, this intricate one-man project sits off Highway 165 and, over the last few decades, has become something of a landmark. However, it may be best to view this from the road: It’s said that Bishop is a loud-mouthed bigot.

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#27. Garden of Eden | Lucas, Kansas: It’s easy to fall for this roadside attraction. Constructed between 1907 and 1928, this is the oldest intact folk art environment in the United States.

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#26. Dinosaur World | Cave City, Kentucky: As they say, man creates dinosaurs. Dinosaurs attract tourists. Tourists enjoy a picnic. While this breed of pitstop isn’t unique, after careful consideration you’ll probably endorse this one for doing roadside dinos the best.

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#25. Anechoic Chamber at Orfield Laboratories | Minneapolis, Minnesota: Until recently, this 99.99% soundproof chamber held the title of World’s Quietest Room. The longest anyone has stayed inside? Just 45 minutes. If you could hear your bodily processes, you’d leave too.

Photo Courtesy: @41Strange/Twitter

#24. Cadillac Ranch | Amarillo, Texas: Carhenge too cheesy for you? Try out this Texas-based landmark instead. This permanent pitstop features 10 graffiti-covered Cadillacs — all standing upright, trunks in the air.

Photo Courtesy: VbarS/TripAdvisor

#23. “Dr. Seuss House” | Willow, Alaska: Did they build it with a big crane? Did they build it with a jet plane? No one will obstruct their views — not even those pesky Whos.

Photo Courtesy: @Whatthisjawn/Twitter

#22. Chauvin Sculpture Garden | Chauvin, Louisiana: This bayou-side assemblage of sculptures and murals is a true folk art wonder. Often called “Kenny Hill Sculpture Park” after the artist who made the work, the spiritual-looking site helped Hill exorcise some of his personal demons.

Photo Courtesy: cdenoi/TripAdvisor; DaChic313/TripAdvisor

#21. Whimzeyland | Safety Harbor, Florida: Dubbed “The Bowling Ball House” by locals, this private home looks like the inside of a kaleidoscope. Adorned in mosaics, glass bottles and — yes — over 500 bowling balls, this privately owned residence born of found-art really makes a case for recycling.

Photo Courtesy: @SCenVoyage/Twitter

#20. Rockport Paper House | Rockport, Massachusetts: Located just north of Boston, this home is, as the name suggests, made of newspaper. Its builder started construction in 1922 as a little hobby — and the project grew. Soon, even the furniture inside was being made from the namesake material.

Photo Courtesy: Leamer/TripAdvisor; Graciegreeting/TripAdvisor

#19. Wave Field | Ann Arbor, Michigan: Located on the University of Michigan’s campus, this installation was designed by Maya Lin, creator of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in D.C. The amount of sunlight falling on the sculpture can drastically alter its appearance, making for a truly dynamic work of art.

Photo Courtesy: @jonathan_nesci/Twitter

#18. Mount Trashmore Park | Virginia Beach, Virginia: The park earned its distinctive name when it opened in 1974 for being an example of landfill reuse. Now, the converted trash spans 165 acres. (Talk about going green, right?) However, locals claim it can still smell faintly of garbage on hot summer days.

Photo Courtesy: @WxLehecka/Twitter; @EvainIowa/Twitter

#17. Hornet Spooklight | South of Joplin, Missouri: Known by several names, the Hornet Spooklight is a strange phenomenon in an area dubbed the “Devil’s Promenade.” At night, a ball of light is said to appear on the road. Explanations vary from atmospheric gases and electrical fields to the supernatural.

Photo Courtesy: Teenagers in the 1950s looking at the Hornet Spooklight; @DowntownJoplin/Twitter

#16. Minister’s Treehouse | Crossville, Tennessee: Minister Horace Burgess was praying when God told him to build a treehouse. And build it he did. At 97 feet tall, it’s a record-setting site. It’s said to contain 80 rooms, plus a church and bell tower. Divine inspiration, indeed.

Photo Courtesy: @SketchyGraves/Twitter; @maceleatherwood/Twitter

#15. Lily Dale | Chautauqua County, New York: Lily Dale has always had a deep connection to Spiritualism. The small hamlet’s population is only 275 people, but each year roughly 22,000 visitors show up to learn more about mediumship and the paranormal.

Photo Courtesy: @GoBizarreTravel/Twitter

#14. Havre Beneath the Streets | Havre, Montana: Forget exploring the catacombs: When a fire destroyed a majority of the town of Havre, business owners moved their operations underground to avoid a repeat disaster. Now, you can tour the town’s little-known subterranean past.

Photo Courtesy: @billingsgazette/Twitter

#13. The Desert of Maine | Freeport, Maine: Known to New Englanders as “Vacationland,” Maine is home to moose, L.L. Bean, lobster rolls and 40 acres of desert sand dunes. Don’t say the Ice Age didn’t ever get you anything nice.

Photo Courtesy: Owner/TripAdvisor

#12. Goat Tower of Baaa | Findlay, Illinois: At 31 feet tall, the “world’s leading goat tower” near Findlay is meant to keep the goats happy. The added bonus? It keeps passersby happy too. Live deliciously, friends.

Photo Courtesy: @RealSardonicus/Twitter

#11. Raëlian UFO Peace Park | Hawaii: Founded in the 1970s, Raëlianism is a religion that suggests all life on Earth was introduced by an alien species. This park on Hawaii’s Big Island features numerous overgrown sculptures and symbols — many of which form a proposed “galactic embassy.”

Photo Courtesy: @RoundtownUFO/Twitter

#10. Biosphere 2 | Oracle, Arizona: This intriguing complex was built between 1987 and 1991 as an Earth system science research facility. Initially, the facility’s main purpose was to determine how viable closed biospheres would be in future space colonization.

Photo Courtesy: CaraMiaV/TripAdvisor

#9. Roads & Ghost Town | Centralia, Pennsylvania: As a result of a coal mine fire burning beneath the ground, the Columbia County whistle stop has become a near-ghost. Toxic gas and smoke rise from cracks in the roads along stretches of the partially closed Route 61.

Photo Courtesy: @Explorationproj/Twitter

#8. Hogpen Hill | Woodbury, Connecticut: Nestled in the Litchfield Hills is a sculpture park created by famed Yale statistician and artist Edward Tufte. Unlike a museum, which guides visitors along a route, Hogpen Hill encourages tourists to meander around its vast 234 acres.

Photo Courtesy: @EdwardTufte/Twitter

#7. Veal’s Ice Tree | Indianapolis, Indiana: For obvious reasons, this site can only be seen when Indiana is experiencing temps below freezing. But, if you plan your trip right, you can also be delighted by the magnificent ice sculpture that’s been a landmark here since 1961.

Photo Courtesy: @DM31/Twitter; @KristinKaneNews/Twitter

#6. Hole in the Rock | Near Moab, Utah: Okay, why is this one so high on our list? Simple: We admire the gumption here. This is literally what it advertises. Nothing says “tourist trap” like this sort of hole in the wall — er, rock. Especially if there’s an attached gift shop.

Photo Courtesy: @onroadaz/Twitter

#5. Grotto of the Redemption | West Bend, Iowa: According to an Iowa tourism website, the religious shrine is “considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.” The $4 million-worth of stones attract 100,000 annual visitors.

Photo Courtesy: @addiehello/Twitter

#4. The Lightning Field | Quemado, New Mexico: While the “Flintstones House” in Lamy is a close runner-up, we have to commend Walter De Maria’s remarkable work of land art. 400 stainless steel poles are arranged in a rectangular grid. And, yes: Lightning does strike (at least) twice.

Photo Courtesy: John Cliett via @aflashbak/Twitter

#3. Goldwell Open Air Museum | Beatty, Nevada: Quite a few sculpture parks — in all varieties — make our list, but this open-air museum remains unique. Under the desert sky, sculptures and installations intermingle with the ruins of an abandoned mining town and railroad tracks.

Photo Courtesy: @vegasphotograph/Twitter

#2. Salvation Mountain | Niland, California: Near the desolate Salton Sea stands a large-scale art installation that measures in at 50 feet high and 150 feet wide. Built by Leonard Knight from adobe clay, straw and colorful paint, the desert mountain spawned nearby artists’ colonies, making this stop truly unforgettable.

Photo Courtesy: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images

#1. Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky | Raleigh, North Carolina: While it’s difficult to crown just one landmark, Chris Drury’s rustic camera obscura in the woods makes a compelling case. Once inside, the old-school optics trick allows you to (virtually) walk among the treetops and clouds. Simple — yet memorable.

Photo Courtesy: Jeff Myers/Creative Commons/Flickr