Offbeat

Craziest Roadside Attractions in the U.S.

If you’ve ever taken a cross-country road trip, you know it’s true: America has some weird sh#t going on. Deep in the California redwoods, there’s a massive statue of Paul Bunyan that actually talks. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, you’ll find a granite mountain that’s been blasted and carved into 3-D likenesses of former presidents — and yes, it’s a national treasure. But for our gas money nothing beats the oddities you’re about to see on this list. Drive on.

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1

Prada Store, Marfa, Texas

Italian luxury fashion brand Prada may be headquartered in Milan, but our favorite boutique is on a desolate stretch of road about a half-hour drive from Marfa, Texas. The weirdest (yet best) part about it? You can’t buy a damn thing. This location is a sculpture installed in 2005 by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in which towering heels and handbags (and even a cash register) are suspended in time.

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2

Hole N” the Rock, Moab, Utah

“I had such a bad day, I want to crawl under a rock” goes the phrase. In the 1950s, Utah’s Christensen family actually did it, carving out 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone for their dream home. It’s now a hole in the wall of epic proportions, with everything from a petting zoo to the original owner’s doll collection to a sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt built right into the exterior.

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3

Chandelier Tree, Mendocino, California

If you’ve ever looked up at a majestic, 300-foot-tall, 2,000-year-old redwood and thought, “Wow, I wish I could drive through that,” you’re in luck. This particular coastal redwood had a car-size tunnel carved through its trunk in 1937, and it’s still very much alive and growing. For five bucks you can motor through it yourself (photos encouraged).

4

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, Arlee, Montana

Montana may be known for its mountains, wide open spaces and (let’s be honest) craft breweries, but there’s another must-do lurking in them thar hills: the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas. A 24-foot-tall central sculpture of deity Yum Chenmo stands watch over 1,000 forms of the Buddha. That’s more Buddhas than you’ll find people in the nearest town, Arlee (population: 602).

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5

Drive-In Christian Church, Daytona, Florida

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not…have to get out of the car? Yep. At this holy gathering spot, cars pull in for Sunday morning service at 8:30 and 10 a.m., then tune their radio dials to 88.5 FM for the minister’s sermon. Prefer to get out of your ride and meet people? You can do that, too; you’ll find Krispy Kreme donuts and hot coffee in the Friendship Hall before and after the service.

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6

Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota

Every year half a million people travel to see this monument to South Dakota’s agriculture, which was built in 1882 (and rebuilt in 1921). Local artisans use 13 different hues of corn — from black and blue to calico — to corn-struct fresh murals on its walls (their pun, not ours, but…ha!). Try to stop by in summer, when you can take a free tour of the place, in all its corny glory.

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7

Twine Ball Museum, Darwin, Minnesota

In 1950 the son of a U.S. congressman started winding baler twine and just…couldn’t…stop. The gargantuan orb of twine he eventually created (at 8.7 tons, the largest ever wound by one person — but no longer the largest overall, oddly enough) is so lauded in this small Minnesota town it has its own celebration on the second Saturday of every August, aptly named Twine Ball Day.

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Photo by Amy Meredith

8

The World’s Only Life-Size Chocolate Moose, Scarborough, Maine

The craziest thing about Lenny, the 1,700-pound milk chocolate moose at Maine’s Len Libby chocolatier, isn’t the fact that he was made in four weeks, or that he’s standing in a pool of white chocolate deliciousness. It’s that Lenny has been standing there since 1997…uneaten.

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9

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

If you happen to be a fan of the caddy, don’t miss this cadillac junkyard designed by the art group Ant Farm in 1974. A row of brightly painted cars, tailfins in the air, stand like works of art emerging from a dirt field off Route 66. You might not be able to drive one away, but you can spray-paint or tag them all you want.

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10

Statue of Liberty, Birmingham, Alabama

At 36 feet tall, the bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty commissioned by Liberty National Life Insurance Company in 1956 looks downright shrimpy compared to the one in New York Harbor. Still, it’s well worth it to pull over for a selfie: This Liberty was cast in the same French factory and has a real gas flame flickering from her torch. We’re just a little concerned about her ability to get down off that huge pedestal after her shift.

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11

Foamhenge, Natural Bridge, Virginia

The real Stonehenge is thousands of miles (and a costly flight) away. So why not stop by a styrofoam version right here in the U.S. of A.? Made by Virginia artist and inventor Mark Cline as an April Fool’s Day joke in 2004, Foamhenge has been a success that is no joke at all. (Cline owns numerous attractions and is likely very well off, so maybe this one isn’t so weird, after all.)