Roadside, USA: Kitschy and Cool Attractions Along the Country’s Highways

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There’s really nothing quite like hitting the road, rolling the windows down to feel the breezes go through your hair, listening to a carefully-planned playlist, and then careening to a stop – I kid, drive safely, folks – to detour at a roadside attraction you saw just happened to spot as you were coming up to the horizon. That, my dear readers, makes me giddy as a child in a candy store and over my years of traveling, I’ve seen some weird, fun, and amazing things.

I’ve found Moab, Utah’s Hole N” The Rock to be worth a visit that’s upwards of an hour, thanks to the number of attractions within this attraction, starting from the actual house which is carved into sandstone, a newly opened zoo, metal sculptures, and curio shops.

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Unusual architecture seems to be a common theme among roadside tourist spots. Zoomorphic buildings like the World’s Biggest Dinosaurs, Cabazon’s Ms. Dinny and Mr. Rex in California, Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic County, New Jersey never fail to tickle my fancy, as do places like the Biosphere 2, a research facility found in Arizona which was parodied in the 1996 movie, “Bio-Dome.”

Going on the road has also made me privy to natural wonders like The Lost Sea, an underground lake that goes through a network of caverns in Sweetwater, Tennessee, and the gigantic Chandelier tree in California, feats of human dedication and artistry like Roadside America, a sprawling miniature village built by a model railroad hobbyist, and Whimzeyland, the aptly-named private home-slash-art project in Florida, and just really strange or fun places like The Living Dead Museum, which pays tribute to George A. Romero’s movies, and the South Carolina theme park, South of the Border.

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Finally, one that combines my love for industrial materials and quirky attractions is the Kaskakia Dragon at Vandalia, Illinois. Built by the owners of the Kaskakia hardware store, the sleekly designed 35-foot long metal monster breathes fire at the drop of a coin. The dragon’s red bulb eyes, metallic skin, and hydraulic insides give it a steampunk appeal that I truly appreciate.

Hello there, I’m Scott Jay Abraham and I have a really bad case of wanderlust. I love going on the road, sometimes with my best buddy, Shadow, and stopping at quirky roadside attractions. Do you have any favorites I should check out? Chime in on the comments section of this blog.

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