10 Best Tips for Finding Roadside Attractions in America

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If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to explore America, road tripping is one of your best options. Not only do you get to enjoy the scenery, but finding interesting roadside attractions along the way will help make your adventure even more memorable!

However, the first priority is to figure out your transportation. If you don’t own a vehicle or prefer not to put extra miles on your personal car, consider looking into car auctions in Florida and elsewhere. They can be a great resource for reliable cars, and you can often find deals that are much more affordable than buying brand new.

Along with having a car, you’ll also need to have a road trip itinerary. Some people like to have an exact plan and route mapped out, while others prefer more of a “go with the flow” approach. Whichever method you choose, make sure you give yourself lots of time for breaks and unexpected detours.

Spray-painted cars buried in the ground at Cadillac Ranch

Ready to discover quirky roadside attractions that will make your road trip unforgettable? Let’s dive into how to find these quirky stops and offbeat travel spots that are the heart and soul of any road adventure.

Tips for finding roadside attractions

In our experience, stopping at roadside attractions makes a trip much more memorable. These oddball stops frequently provide a distinctive fusion of history, culture, and regional flavor that well-known tourist sites just can’t offer.

Here are some of our best suggestions for how to find roadside attractions, whether you’re going cross-country or just taking a small detour from your typical route.

1. Take time to research.

Before you go on your trip, spend some time looking for helpful resources online. Reading travel blogs, watching videos, and looking at social media will give you lots of information about interesting places to visit along your trip.

2. Be flexible.

Keep an open mind and enjoy the good things that happen by chance. Be open to the unexpected turns and twists that life may throw at you, and keep your curiosity alive so you can explore new places. Remember that some of the most memorable things can happen when you’re not looking for them. You might find hidden gems or make new paths that you would have never found otherwise. So, let go of your strict plans and let yourself be carried away by the wonderful surprises that life has in store for you.

3. Talk to the locals.

When exploring new places, don’t hesitate to ask the locals for advice on offbeat destinations and hidden gems. They often have insider knowledge about lesser-known attractions that may not receive much publicity. By tapping into their expertise, you can uncover unique and memorable experiences that will make your trip even more special. So, strike up a conversation with the locals and let them guide you towards hidden treasures waiting to be discovered!

4. Prepare for bad navigation.

Some offbeat travel spots are out in the middle of nowhere. It’s always a good idea to download offline maps and ensure you have a reliable GPS system, so you’ll always know your whereabouts and have access to the best routes along the way. This will give you peace of mind, so you can explore without worrying about getting lost or losing your way when cell service is spotty or nonexistent.

5. Take it easy.

Unusual points of interest are often loaded with charm, so take your time to enjoy it. Explore every nook and cranny, snap priceless photos, and soak up the unique vibe by immersing yourself in the experience. Creating such indelible impressions will ensure that your trip is remembered fondly long after it ends.

6. Capture the memories.

Bring a camera or smartphone to capture the moments in order to preserve them. These unusual sights might provide fascinating tales and memorable pictures to share with friends and family.

A group of people taking a selfie photograph with a phone

7. Support local businesses.

Many quirky and unique stops are lovingly run by passionate locals. Show your support by indulging in delicious snacks, purchasing tickets to experience their charm, or taking home souvenirs that serve as mementos of your unforgettable experiences. Your contributions go a long way in maintaining and enhancing these eccentric roadside gems and help preserve them for future generations to enjoy.

8. Seek out interactive experiences.

It’s always worth visiting places that offer interactive experiences. These can include engaging hands-on displays that allow you to immerse yourself in the subject matter. Guided tours provide valuable insights and context, while also allowing you to ask questions and learn more. If you’re interested in experiencing the local culture, attractions that provide opportunities to partake in regional customs will give you a deeper appreciation for the destination you’re exploring.

9. Don’t forget to go mainstream.

To create a truly well-rounded and balanced vacation experience, it’s worth considering complementing your eccentric stops with some well-known tourist attractions. Blending the unique and the familiar is the ultimate recipe for an enriching and unforgettable vacation that will leave you with stories to share and memories to cherish for a lifetime.

10. Share your discoveries.

After exploring these hidden gems, make sure to share your incredible adventures with your friends on social media. Additionally, consider joining travel discussion groups and forums to inspire and motivate fellow travelers to discover these off-the-beaten-path treasures. By sharing your experiences, you can ignite the curiosity and wanderlust in others, encouraging them to seek out similar extraordinary sights that are often overlooked.

It seems to us that a lot of the joy of visiting roadside attractions comes from the exploration process itself. It’s a great way to break up long trips and uncover unexpected surprises that make the journey even more interesting. Not to mention, sharing those incredible spots with friends and family back home always end up turning into captivating tales that are sure to entertain others.

Examples of quirky stops and hidden gems in America

Whether they’re steeped in history, infused with local culture, or simply outlandishly fun, every unusual tourist attraction has its own story to tell.

Front of the Salt and Pepper Museum in Gatlinburg Tennessee

Here are a few examples of roadside attractions in America that perfectly capture the spirit of oddball pit stops. These captivating landmarks display the endless diversity and enchantment of offbeat attractions, offering delightful and unexpected experiences for adventurous souls.

1. Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

Ten Cadillac cars that are partially buried and covered in layers of colorful graffiti make up this famous artwork. Embrace your creativity and bring your own spray paint, because visitors are invited to personalize the trucks with their own artwork. This interactive experience transforms the trucks into a dynamic and ever-evolving canvas of creativity.

2. The Enchanted Highway – North Dakota

While driving along this stunning route, you’ll encounter magnificent metal sculptures depicting a variety of creatures and personalities. One such sculpture, “Geese in Flight,” showcases a flock of colossal geese gracefully soaring across the landscape.

3. Dog Bark Park Inn – Cottonwood, Idaho

At this bed and breakfast, guests have the unique opportunity to stay in a magnificent structure shaped like a beagle, offering a truly distinctive hotel experience. The whimsical facade and warm, dog-themed interiors create an ambiance that is both charming and inviting.

4. The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum – Gatlinburg, Tennessee

With a collection of over 20,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers from numerous countries, this museum pays homage to the artistic, creative, and cultural value of these everyday objects. It is a testament to their utilitarian significance, while also celebrating their beauty and craftsmanship.

5. The Shoe House – Hellam, Pennsylvania

House in the shape of a shoe, a roadside attraction in Pennsylvania

Originally built as a promotional stunt for a shoe company, the extravagant mansion shaped like a massive shoe has now transformed into a captivating museum and popular roadside attraction. Offering guided tours, it allows visitors to explore its unique interior and get a fascinating glimpse into its extraordinary design.

6. The Museum of Bad Art – Somerville, Massachusetts

This gallery showcases artworks that defy conventional standards of beauty. Its collection consists of pieces that, whether by design or happenstance, exude a delightful and thought-provoking “badness”.

7. The Dole Plantation – Oahu, Hawaii

The Dole Plantation, a renowned tourist destination, provides an enchanting getaway into the realm of pineapples. As visitors weave through a magnificent labyrinth of pineapples, they have the opportunity to delve into the rich history of pineapple cultivation. This immersive experience combines entertainment and education, making it an unforgettable adventure for all.

8. The World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Cawker City, Kansas

If you’re fascinated by the Guinness Book of World Records, the “World’s Largest Ball of Twine” is a must see. This massive ball of twine has been rolled and added to for decades by the residents of Cawker City. Visitors are even invited to add a piece of twine to the ball, making it a community effort.

9. The Mystery Spot – Santa Cruz, California

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly that creates optical illusions and seemingly defies the laws of physics. Visitors experience strange sensations, such as feeling tilted or off-balance while standing on what appears to be level ground. Guided tours are conducted to explain the phenomenon and entertain visitors with quirky demonstrations.

10. Unclaimed Baggage Center – Scottsboro, Alabama

If you enjoy offbeat retail stores, don’t miss the Unclaimed Baggage Center. This unique roadside attraction offers a shopping experience like no other. Lost luggage items find new life here, from clothing and gadgets to unexpected treasures. Delve into the narratives of forgotten travelers as you uncover a range of intriguing mementos. It’s a captivating stop that turns unclaimed baggage into an adventure for curious explorers.

6 tools to help you find roadside attractions

South of the Border along I-95, one of the roadside attractions in South Carolina

The world is teeming with interesting and quirky road trip stops just waiting to be explored. To help you uncover these hidden treasures during your vacation, here are some valuable resources that will help you find fun places to visit on your vacation.

1. Roadside America

Whether you’re looking for unusual museums or strange monuments, you’ll find them all listed on the Roadside America website. To get started, go to the website and search for a location. You will be provided with a wealth of information on roadside attractions and other local oddities, including descriptions, user ratings, and photos taken during previous visits.

2. Silly America

The online travel guide Silly America highlights everything from massive statues to outrageous museums across the United States. The site also provides details on nearby attractions, allowing you to easily plan your trip without missing any of the wackiest places to visit.

3. Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura is a popular online platform that features articles, photographs, and descriptions of lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path destinations, landmarks, and experiences. These can range from quirky museums and hidden natural wonders to unusual festivals and intriguing historical sites.

4. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding all sorts of attractions, including the more unusual roadside spots. On the site, you’ll find reviews and pictures from previous visitors that will provide helpful insights on the best places to visit, as well as what to expect when you get there. You can also message other travelers who have already visited the spot and get their suggestions for finding more cool spots in the area.

5. Local tourist boards

Local tourist boards can be an excellent source of information on interesting and quirky places in the area. They often have advice about popular stops as well as unique locations that may fly under the radar. Plus, they’ll also have insider tips on the best times to visit, the best place to park, etc.

6. Online search

And let’s not forget that you can always locate interesting spots along the way by doing a quick search on Google and other search engines. Just search for “roadside attractions near [name of the destination]”, and you’ll be presented with a list of unusual places that might be worth visiting.

The bottom line

True exploration knows no bounds, and roadside attractions offer a unique chance to uncover surprises and unearth treasures. Countless hidden gems are out there, just waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers.

Keep an eye out on your next adventure for those unassuming signs, faded billboards, and interesting detours to locate the secret enchantment that lies just beyond the asphalt. Indeed, the roads less traveled often conceal the most splendid treasures.

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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