It may be cold and snowy outside right now, but soon it will be time to pack the loved ones into the old SUV and head out on a great American family tradition — the road trip.
But be willing to stray off the interstates and hit the seldom-traveled byways for a truly great experience. America offers a plethora of roadside attractions, often in out-of-the-way locations, some educational, some beautiful, and some just downright weird and wacky, but all guaranteed to make visiting them well worth the drive.
In anticipation of highway season, Newsmax has gathered up a list of the 50 best roadside Americana attractions for your touristing enjoyment.
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1. Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska
— This attraction features 38 cars spray-painted gray and stacked exactly like the famous Stonehenge monument in England, and you can spray paint the cars yourself.
2. The Ave Maria Grotto at the St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama
— It boasts three acres of miniature replicas of the world's most famous cathedrals and architectural wonders, such as the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Paul's Cathedral in Rome, and others.
3. Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas
— This installation of 10 classic cars is buried diagonally, nose first, at the exact same angle of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Why? Who knows. It's art — just look at it.
4. The Land of Giants, or the Farnham Colossi, in Unger, West Virginia
— Don't miss this stop where you can see scads of 20-foot-tall statues, including the Muffler Man, the bikinied Uniroyal Gal, a tanning, beer-sipping surfer, and many more.
5. World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, California
— It stands 134 feet tall and registers a constant 134 degrees in recognition of the day the temperature hit that high point in the town, located very close to Death Valley.
6. Nyberg Sculpture Park in Vining, Minnesota
— With such oddities as a giant human foot statue standing 11 feet tall, a huge levitated coffee cup pouring out a stream of java, a giant pair of pliers topped with a huge cockroach, and others courtesy of sculptor Ken Nyberg, this is a must-see.
7. The Beer Can House in Houston, Texas
— With more than 50,000 flattened beer cans as siding, and dangling beer can wind chimes, the house also has marble, rock, and wood landscaping ever since the day when owner John Milkovisch got tired of mowing his lawn.
8. Matchstick Marvel Museum in Gladbrook, Iowa
— This stop contains of around 20 amazing matchstick creations, including a 1/70th scale model of the USS Iowa battleship, a large scale model of Notre Dame Cathedral, and a "Plane Loco" sculpture, a winged train made up of more than 1 million matchsticks.
9. Benewah Milk Bottles in Spokane, Washington
— Erected 77 years ago at the Benewah Creamery Company, these landmarks stand 38 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
10. Crystal Ice House in Pensacola, Florida
— Though it may look like you've just arrived in Alaska, this building — a vintage ice plant — is actually built from stucco and mica, which glistens in the sun and gives the impression of being made of ice. It dates back to 1932.
11. Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona
— This scientific research facility, made largely of glass, contains enclosed biomes, including a savannah grassland, an ocean reef, a rain forest, a fog desert, and mangrove wetlands, as well as human living quarters.
12. The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma
— The whale structure, measuring 80 feet from its tail to its wide, toothy grin, can be seen basking in a pond. Located on Route 66, the whale was built in the 1970s as an anniversary gift.
13. Cabazon Dinosaurs of Cabazon, California
— These near life-sized sculptures of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, an Apatosaurus, and others also include a creationism museum. The attraction also features Dinny the Dinosaur, an enormous 150-ton building shaped like a brontosaurus.
14. World's Largest Santa Claus in, where else, North Pole, Alaska
— This 900-pound sculpture of Old Saint Nick reading a Christmas letter from a child is actually an advertisement for the nearby Santa Claus House, a store where Christmas never ends.
15. Salvation Mountain near Calipatria, California
— Make sure to stop by this 50-foot-tall mountain covered in 100,000 gallons of paint, plastered with Biblical sayings and colorful drawings, with a cross planted on top. Artist Leonard Knight spent 30 years on his mission to create a "tribute to God."
16. Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas
— This venue pays homage to the barbed wire that made fencing cattle lands possible and led to civilization in the early West. The museum has examples of more than 2,000 types of barbed wire and barbed wire sculptures.
17. Cano's Castle in Antonito, Colorado
— Stop and marvel at this four-tower chateau made of beer cans, hubcaps, and scrap metal by its owner, Donald "Cano" Espinoza.
18. World's Largest Jack-in-the-Box in Middletown, Connecticut
— This attraction features a 600-pound clown's head atop a 50-foot silo at Wild Bill's Nostalgia Center. The head rises up out of the silo. The clown head once belonged to Bob Keeshan, famed as Captain Kangaroo and Clarabel the Clown.
19. The Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue in Plains, Georgia
— The home of the former president boasts a 13-foot-tall statue of a peanut bearing Carter's trademark toothy grin.
20. South of the Border in Dillon, South Carolina
— This 135-acre roadside stop complex is fronted by its mascot, a 97-foot-tall statue of "Pedro," a Mexican bandito, and a 200-foot-tall "Sombrero Tower." The stopover has a motel, gas stations, restaurants, gift shops, and a fireworks store, all constructed in faux adobe in keeping with the Mexican theme.
21. World's Biggest Beagle in Cottonwood, Idaho
— Standing an impressive 27 feet tall, this attraction is actually an operating B&B, with a room inside the beagle.
22. World's Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois
— At 65 years old and 70 feet tall, the structure serves as a water tower and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
23. World's Largest Ball of Paint in Alexandria, Indiana
— It started out as a baseball, but now it's a 4,200-pound gargantuan ball of paint, created by 24,350 coats of paint over 40 years.
24. The Golden Driller in Tulsa, Oklahoma
— This landmark is a 22-ton concrete and iron structure memorializing those who bought in Oklahoma's oil boom. It stands 76 feet tall and has its massive arm resting on an oil derrick.
25. World's Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas
— Weighing 19,973 pounds, measuring 41.42 feet in circumference, and standing more than 10 feet all, the ball is still growing.
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26. World's Largest Baseball Bat in Louisville, Kentucky
— Home of the famed Louisville Slugger, the bat is a 68,000 pound, 120-foot-long replica of Babe Ruth's famous bat. It is located at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, which also contains a giant limestone baseball glove.
27. Nicolas Cage's Tomb in New Orleans, Louisiana
— Ready and waiting for when the actor shuffles off the mortal realm, this pyramid-shaped, 10-foot-tall tomb bears the inscription, "Omnia Ab Uno," or "Everything From One."
28. Gorilla Holding a VW, in Leicester, Vermont
— It's just what it sounds like — a 19-foot-tall concrete gorilla holding a gold Volkswagen Beetle in his outstretched left hand, while his right hand reaches down, palm up, providing a seat for anyone who cares to sit and admire the car.
29. Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa
— It began as a mission of Father Paul Dobberstein in gratitude for being saved from death after he fell ill with pneumonia. Today, 50 years later, the grotto is 100 yards long, made entirely of semiprecious stones, and valued at $4 million. Nine separate grottos each portray a scene from the life of Christ.
30. Lenny, the Chocolate Moose in Scarborough, Maine
— Weighing in at 1,700 pounds, this life-size chocolate moose stands in a pool of liquid chocolate. But don't take a bite — after 18 years, Lenny is pretty stale.
31. Jolly Green Giant Statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota
— Towering 55 feet above the town, his arms on hips, a big smile on his emerald face, this statue weighs four tons. It was built in 1970 to mark the completion of Interstate 90.
32. Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts
— This landmark is built entirely from old newspapers, except for its frame, floors, and ceiling. In all, owner Elis Stenman used more than 100,000 newspapers to construct the odd home, starting in 1922. Appropriately, Stenman is the engineer who designed the machines that make paperclips.
33. Leaning Tower of Niles, in Niles, Illinois
— Though not as large as its namesake in Pisa, Italy (Niles' tower stands only 94 feet as compared to Pisa's 183), it does include four fountains and a 30-foot pool.
34. Mammy's Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi
— This restaurant built in the shape of Aunt Jemima is a must-visit. Over the years since its construction in 1940, political correctness has resulted in the figurine's gradual skin lightening, but the 28-foot-high restaurant still serves some delicious down-home Southern cooking.
35. London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
— The original 1831 bridge was shipped over from London at a cost of nearly $10 million. Today, you can drive or walk across its 950 feet and pretend you're in England.
36. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail and Museum in Weldon Spring, Missouri
— This museum rests on top of 1.5 million cubic yards of hazardous radioactive waste from an abandoned uranium ore processing plant. Take a stroll, if you dare.
37. Longaberger Basket Headquarters in Newark, Ohio
— The home offices of the Longaberger Basket Co. is itself a giant basket, standing seven stories high. At a cost of $30 million, the company erected the odd building, which includes 150-ton handles and is 160 times longer than the basket after which it is modeled, in 1997.
38. Talking (Sometimes) Penguin Statue in Cut Bank, Montana
— The statue, which bills itself as the "coldest spot in the nation," stands 27 feet tall and weighs 10,000 pounds. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it mutters in fuzzy, barely audible English.
39. The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tennessee
— At this underground lake 140 feet below the surface, you can tour fascinating caverns, ride in a glass-bottomed boat across the lake, and see 20,000-year-old jaguar tracks in the stone.
40. World's Largest Ball of Stamps in Boys Town, Nebraska
— This attraction contains an estimated 4,655,000 colorful stamps, weighs 600 pounds, and measures 32 inches in diameter in front of a framed sunburst mural also made of stamps. And it all started out as a golf ball.
41. Lucy the Elephant in Margate City, New Jersey
— Lucy dates back to 1881 when there was a flurry of construction on buildings shaped like animals. She stands 65 feet high, measures 60 feet long and 18 feet wide, and weighs about 90 tons, and has been used as a restaurant, an office, a motel, and even a speakeasy. Visitors can climb up inside Lucy's leg and stand in the decorative howdah on top of her red blanket.
42. Area 51 Alien Travel Center and Brothel in Amargosa Valley, Nevada
— This is a green splash of alien-themed weirdness located near the legendary Area 51, where UFO enthusiasts claim the U.S. conducts UFO research. It includes a gas station, a convenience store, and a truck stop, but you might want to leave the kids in the car for this one.
43. Miracle Cross Garden in Prattville, Alabama
— This hillside is filled with hundreds of crosses of various sizes, covered with religious messages such as, "Hell is hot, hot, hot." It was erected by the late William Rice, beginning in 1976 after the death of his mother.
44. World's Largest Pistachio Nut in Alamogordo, New Mexico
— Standing 30 feet high and anchored in 9 feet of solid concrete, the nut serves as an ad for McGinn's Pistachio Tree Ranch and a nearby winery.
45. Hole N' The Rock in Moab, Utah
— This 5,000-square-foot home is carved out of a sandstone mountain, and includes 14 rooms, a 65-foot stone chimney, and a bathtub carved out of the rock. Over 20 years, 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone was removed to create the unique home, which has tours and a gift shop.
46. Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, Minnesota
— Stop by the self-proclaimed birthplace of the mythic lumberjack and see the 18-foot-tall, 2.5-ton statue accompanied, of course, by Paul's faithful bovine friend, Babe the Blue Ox.
47. World's Largest Man-Made Turtle in Dunseith, North Dakota
— This creation sprang to life in 1982 and is made out of more than 2,000 steel wheel rims welded together and painted black. The turtle's 2,000-pound head bobs up and down on a pivot.
48. Solomon's Castle in Ona, Florida
— This three-story royal wonder is made from gleaming aluminum printing press plates by artist Howard Sullivan. It is crammed full of Solomon's sculptures and includes the "Boat in the Moat," a replica of a Portuguese sailing galleon turned into a restaurant and, of course, a gift shop.
49. Fighting Seabee Statue in North Kingstown, Rhode Island
— This landmark stands outside the Seabee Museum and Memorial Park and is dedicated to the U.S. Naval Construction Forces' wartime record. The ferocious-looking bee holds a hammer in one hand and a machine gun in the other, ready for battle.
50. Porter Sculpture Park in Montrose, South Dakota
— Make sure to stop by these 10 acres of strangeness, made up of 40 sculptures by Wayne Porter that seem other-worldly, including swimming goldfish, metal vultures, rocking horses, odd fantasy creatures, and a 60-foot-tall, 25-ton longhorn bull head.
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