America’s Most Mind-Boggling Roadside Attractions
As people begin to plan summer road trips, they may wish to veer off the beaten path to experience the massive concrete snowman of North St. Paul, the Coral Castle of Homestead, Florida, and other curious moments along America's highways and byways.
Max Grinnell is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.You can follow him on Twitter @theurbanologist.
National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin
As a study in superlatives, this place is impressive: 5,624 mustards from over 70 countries, a “Great Wall of Mustards,” and the Gibbons Collection of antique mustard pots. Stop by the tasting bar and pick up some souvenirs from their own institution of higher learning, “Poupon U.”
The American Treasure Tour in Oaks, Pennsylvania
Located in a nondescript suburban office park, this warehouse contains a meandering menagerie of player pianos, historic cars, circus paraphernalia, and pop ephemera ranging from Simpsons sneakers to Howdy Doody dolls. Surreal doesn’t begin to describe it.
Hall of Water in Excelsior Springs, Missouri
Built in the depths of the Great Depression for $1 million, this pure water temple was designed as a luxe health resort. Inside, you can look at the gorgeous Art Deco details or walk the length of the “World’s Longest Water Bar.”
Villa Kathrine in Quincy, Illinois
This most curious Moorish palace on the Mississippi River was built by wealthy architecture enthusiast W. George Metz. Modeled after the Villa ben Ahben in Morocco, visitors can wander by for a tour of its lovely interior spaces and pick up info about Quincy and beyond.
Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida
Carved from over 1,100 tons of coral rock, this most creative sculpture garden features rocking chairs, a telescope, and a 9-ton gate made entirely out of this durable stone. Even more compelling is that fact that the artist, Edward Leedskalnin, completed this project entirely at night, by himself, from 1923 to 1951.
Presidio Pet Cemetery in San Francisco, California
Interested in the last resting place of Trouble, Willie, and Mr. Iguana? Walk on over through San Francisco’s Presidio to check out their very own pet cemetery. Opened in the late 19th century, it’s where generations of military families said goodbye to legions of dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, and other beloved companions.
North St. Paul Snowman in North St. Paul, Minnesota
As a permanent symbol of the holiday season, it’s hard to beat this 44-foot high, 20-ton kindly snowman. He’s been hanging out in the area since 1974 and he’s the stuff of legend in the Twin Cities. Drive on by or get out and take a photo to show friends who crave a winter reminder in warmer times.
National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada
For those curious to know more about pop hits inspired by the a-bomb blasts of the desert’s Area 51, look no further than the National Atomic Testing Museum.
Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
Located in a desolate plain, Carhenge offers 39 automobiles (including one 1962 Cadillac) arranged in a fashion similar to—well, you get it. Also nearby is the Car Art Reserve, which contains sculptures of roaming dines, a spawning salmon, and the “Ford Seasons”, which was inspired by Vivaldi’s classical masterpiece.