10 Must-See Roadside Attractions in North America

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Bucket List Worthy  

Photo credit: Larry Myhre
Photo credit: Larry Myhre

Nothing ever goes as planned, but when you’re traveling on the road, that’s not always a bad thing. Pull over and stretch your legs at some of these must-see roadside attractions across the United States and Canada, and you’ll likely agree that the journey is just as incredible as the final destination.

1. Hole N’ The Rock, Moab, Utah

Warm up your photo-snapping muscles at the world-famous Hole N’ The Rock home in Moab, Utah. This 5,000-square-foot, 14-room home — carved out of a massive rock — is an incredible place to take a guided tour, but it also serves as a trading post, general store and exotic zoo for those with a little less time to spare.

Photo credit: ArbyReed
Photo credit: ArbyReed

Photo credit:
Photo credit: ArbyReed

Photo credit: Ed 37
Photo credit: Ed 37

2. Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

The open corn fields of Alliance, Nebraska don’t bear much resemblance to the town of Wiltshire in the United Kingdom. That is, aside from the giant gray statues that attract droves of tourists every year. Wiltshire is home to the famous Stonehenge monument built roughly 5,000 years ago. Alliance, on the other hand, is home to Carhenge — a group of statues made out of classic vehicles and painted grey to resemble the actual monument. While the creator Jim Reinders initially created the structures as a memorial dedicated to his father, it has since become a popular and absurd American roadside attraction.

Photo credit: Chris M. Morris
Photo credit: Chris M. Morris

Photo credit: Whitewall Buick
Photo credit: whitewall buick

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson
Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson

3. Mile 0, Victoria, British Columbia

Start the ultimate road or bike trip at Mile 0 — the beginning of the world’s longest national highway. Located in the picturesque coastal city of Victoria, British Columbia, Mile 0 marks the start of the Trans-Canada Highway, which stretches 8,000 kilometers across the entire country. Pose for a picture with the statue of Terry Fox — a runner who lost his leg to cancer when he was 18 years old and still attempted to make the journey from the east coast of Newfoundland to Mile 0 in Victoria. Although he fell ill and died of cancer before he could finish the run, his legacy has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research and awareness.

Photo credit: Steve Voght
Photo credit: Steve Voght

Photo credit: Zombie Leah
Photo credit: Zombie Leah

Photo credit: Waferboard
Photo credit: Waferboard

 4. Museum of Bad Art, Dedham, Massachusetts

With three locations throughout Massachusetts, the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) is a must-see if you’re passing through the Bay State. The MOBA was created in 1993 as a gallery dedicated to celebrating and preserving distinctly poor art.  As the interest in sub-par art grew, MOBA opened galleries in the basement of the Somerville Theatre, the Dedham Community Theatre and the lobby of the Brookline Access Television offices.

Photo credit: Daniel
Photo credit: Daniel

Photo credit: ironypoisoning
Photo credit: ironypoisoning

Photo credit: ironypoisoning
Photo credit: ironypoisoning

5. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

You probably expect to see plenty of cars on historic Route 66, and maybe even some historic cars too, but the sight of 10 stripped and vandalized classic Cadillacs buried with their noses into the ground might make you stop and look twice. Cadillac Ranch was designed and built in 1974 by a group of hippies from San Francisco, but when it was created, the vehicles ranging from a 1949 Club Sedan to a ’63 Sedan DeVille were in much better condition. As visitors stopped to view the spectacle, they took pieces as souvenirs and signed their names for photo ops. If you visit Cadillac Ranch today, bring a can of spray paint and a camera, because leaving your mark on the artwork is now 100 percent acceptable.

Photo credit: Dean Terry
Photo credit: Dean Terry

Photo credit: tobym
Photo credit: tobym

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds
Photo credit: Leo Reynolds

 6. The Enchanted Highway, Regent, North Dakota

Who said driving through North Dakota was boring? Thirty-two miles of a two-lane highway in North Dakota, heading north from the small town of Regent, are littered with handmade sculptures made of scrap metal. The attraction’s artist and planner Gary Greff hopes the sculptures (and other roadside attractions throughout the country) will help save small town America.

Photo credit: Scott Yanke
Photo credit: Scott Yanke

Photo credit: Brett Whaley
Photo credit: Brett Whaley

Photo credit: Scott Yanke
Photo credit: Scott Yanke

 7. Giant Starship Enterprise, Vulcan, Alberta

Canada is home to an array of “giant” and “world’s largest” roadside attractions, and with a name like Vulcan, it’s no wonder the Giant Starship Enterprise is located in this small Alberta town. You don’t have to be a die-hard Star Trek fan to enjoy all of the oddities of this town, including a Star Trek-themed tourist information centre, street signs, the Trekcetera Museum and plenty more.

Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada
Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada

Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada
Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada

Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada
Photo credit: Travel Alberta Canada

8. Foamhenge, Natural Bridge, Virginia

Artist Mark Cline has been known for creating oddities in Virginia, including (but not limited to) the House of the Living Dead, Scare Witch Experience and Professor Cline’s Time Machine. In 2004, Cline created once of his best masterpieces yet — a full-size, astronomically centered, Styrofoam exact replica of the majestic Stonehenge Monument, but instead of being in England, it’s located in Natural Bridge, Va.

Photo credit: Steve Petrucelli
Photo credit: Steve Petrucelli

Photo credit: Ryan Lintelman
Photo credit: Ryan Lintelman

Photo credit: Alun Salt
Photo credit: Alun Salt

9. Lucy the Elephant, Margate, New Jersey

Beach-goers choose some pretty odd designs for their summer cottages, and some just don’t seem to fit into the beach atmosphere at all. One of those odd cottages is named Lucy the Elephant — a 130-year-old elephant structure that was actually once used as a summer cottage. While the six-story elephant made of wood and tin also served the purpose of an office, a restaurant and a tavern over the years, the remarkable piece of novelty architecture is now on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks as an exciting tourist attraction for visitors from around the globe.

Photo credit: Jim the Photographer
Photo credit: Jim the Photographer

Photo credit: Photo Phiend
Photo credit: Photo Phiend

Photo credit: Photo Phiend
Photo credit: Photo Phiend

 10. Biosphere 2, Oracle, Arizona

Traveling the seemingly endless route I-40 across the United States just got a lot more interesting. Biosphere 2 — in Oracle, Ariz. — is a science research facility containing three-acres of greenhouse used for global-warming experimentation and research. Visitors are welcome to tour the multiple climactic zones, including a rainforest, grasslands, wetlands, a coral reef and a fog desert. The remarkable under-the-glass walking tour lasts about 1.25 hours and covers 150 stairs, so it’s an ideal way to loosen up your legs after a long journey.

Photo credit: Josh & Karen Tanenbaum
Photo credit: Josh & Karen Tanenbaum

Photo credit: Erin and Lance Willett
Photo credit: Erin and Lance Willett

Photo credit: John Kittelsrud
Photo credit: John Kittelsrud

About the Author: Courtney McCaffrey

Courtney McCaffrey is a freelance writer and editor based in Wilmington, N.C. In addition to writing, she lives for travel - seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves.

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