American culture can be a bit quirky at times with things as hot dog eating contests and its eccentric Walmart culture. This quirkiness applies to its roadside attractions as well. While we Aussies have our fair share of peculiar roadside attractions favouring “big things” like the Big Merino, Big Banana, and Big Pineapple, many of America’s roadside attractions are downright bizarre.
So let us take the rubber to the road from coast to coast as we uncover some of America’s most unusual roadside attractions. And remember to consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you plan on hiring a car for your American road trip.
There are policies available that provide rental vehicle excess cover which can help reimburse you for rental car insurance excess costs if your rental vehicle is damaged, stolen, or involved in an accident while in your custody.
Head to Amarillo, Texas where you will drive past outdoor art at its craziest. Sitting alongside Interstate 40 which parallels or incorporates America’s iconic Route 66, is an art installation known as Cadillac Ranch. While it sits on private land, the public is encouraged to stop and have a look by walking through the open gate.
What you will find are ten old beat-up Cadillacs standing upright with their boots in the air, painted in all kinds of crazy colours. The best part of the experience is that you can add your own personal touch to the artwork by taking some spray paint and leaving your mark since graffiti is not only allowed but encouraged.
Because visitors are allowed to spray paint here, the appearance of the vehicles is always changing. They have been used not only to spread fun messages and creativity but also to protest.
Just be prepared to smell lingering spray paint fumes and wear shoes you don’t mind getting muddy if you choose to get out of the car for a close up inspection.
You’d have to be hiding under a rock to not notice the famous Hole N” The Rock home while driving through the state of Utah. You’ll find it in the state’s outdoor adventure capital Moab which is near the popular Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. This extremely bizarre home has been carved into a giant rock face, featuring a massive 450+ square metres of space that includes 14 bedrooms and a fireplace with a massive chimney.
The original owners of the housed have since passed, they are said to be buried within the rock near the home, with the home now open to the public for short guided tours. Inside the home you will find an eclectic mix of taxidermy, paintings of Jesus, and a doll collection.
If all that wasn’t odd enough, the home features an on-site petting zoo which includes an ostrich, mini donkey, camel, and albino raccoon. You can’t miss this roadside attraction because giant white letters have been painted on the rock which read Hole N” The Rock.
No, this attraction has nothing to do with our iconic Aussie singer John Farnham who is responsible for our unofficial national anthem “You’re the Voice”, rather it’s an off-the-wall roadside attraction in the backwoods of West Virginia belonging to a simple man named George Farnham.
While the owner proudly proclaims his attraction to be West Virginia’s only amusement park, it is a very far cry from being anything remotely close to an amusement park. While it’s no Dreamworld, it does offer an entertaining short stop if you find yourself on a US road trip and are lost in the middle of nowhere where this is can be found.
The private property features dozens of giant fibreglass sculptures which are relics of old businesses which used them to lure in shoppers or clients. Farnham purchased the giant sculptures and relocated them to his property over many years.
You are welcome to explore his eccentric property and photograph its dozens of fibreglass giants which include a young man wearing board shorts, a woman with a Ulysses butterfly tattoo, dinosaurs, giant eagles, and an apple with famous quotes written on it. Oh, and George also owns more than two dozen cats so don’t be surprised if you run into one.
If you find yourself on a road trip through California, you may encounter a bizarre man-made mountain in the middle of the desert about an hour from the Mexican border. This brightly coloured mountain displaying all the colours of the rainbow is the creation of a religious man named Leonard Knight.
He created this folk art masterpiece using adobe bricks and mud along with various rubbish. The 150-foot-long mound which reaches a height of 50 feet was then covered with over a half a million gallons of paint. The attraction has gone on to be visited by countless people from all round the world.
Leonard’s religiousness shines through as you notice the many messages of love and Bible verses painted on the mountain. He even painted a Yellow Brick Road that leads visitors up the mountain. The mountain is open daily from sunrise to sunset and you may recognise it from various music videos of famous musicians like Kesha and Coldplay.
Source: Lucy the Elephant
While it is not ethical to ride elephants around the world, how about settling for climbing inside one instead. Located in Margate, New Jersey is America’s oldest surviving roadside attraction, and her name is Lucy the Elephant.
Lucy stands 20 metres high and is made of wood and metal. She is actually considered to be a building, and inside her stomach you will find stairs, sofas, rugs, hanging pictures, and even a bed. You can step inside the famous elephant by booking a guided tour which will allow you to look out Lucy’s eyes, watch a brief video about her, and climb up to the riding carriage upon her back which is known as a howdah.
Lucy just recently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration so has never looked better. She also gets her toenails painted a new colour every July when the locals celebrate her birthday with a grand celebration.
Situated between Florida’s Gulf Coast and Miami in the swamps of the Everglades is a strange attraction even by Florida standards. Here, you’ll find the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters where one man has dedicated his life to proving the existence of Florida’s version of Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
The owner Dave Shealy is adamant there are numerous Skunk Apes roaming the southern swamps of Florida and says he has photos and videos to prove it, along with a giant plaster cast of a Skunk Ape footprint.
Visitors to the headquarters can not only observe and analyse the evidence for themselves, but they can also observe real-life animals like captive alligators and massive pythons. There is also plenty of entertaining Skunk Ape merchandise available for purchase.