Who’s ready to see some weird stuff on the side of the road? Take in America’s national treasures, oddities, and happy accidents with a unique charter bus tour of these United States of A. Add these roadside attractions to an existing trip, plan a long road trip to hit every one, or make a day trip to a special destination like Prada Marfa or Nicholas Cage’s Tomb (yes, that Nick Cage, the one who’s still alive and kickin’). So pack your bags, charge your phones, board the bus, then head out on the ‘grammable tour of a lifetime.
Salvation Island, Niland, California
It’s colorful. It’s big. It’s weird. And it took 30 years and 100 000 gallons of paint to create. Deep in the desert off Highway 111 and 2.5 hours from San Diego stands Salvation Island. Leonard Knight, of Niland, California, was moved by nothing but faith to make a giant adobe clay monument to his religion. It’s open all day long and can be visited year round. If you’re making your way to this deserted town, we recommend doing it in a coach bus. That air-conditioning is key during those 120-degrees-fahrenheit summers.
Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
Carhenge! It’s like Stonehenge, but with cars! Mimicking the famous English monument, Carhenge is a collection of gray vintage American sports cars in a circle. Three hours from Denver on Highway 87, this attraction is viewable year round, with a gift shop open in the summer months.
Prada Marfa, Valentine, Texas
Should you buy luxury shoes in the middle of nowhere? Can you? Nope. Prada Marfa might look like a place to pick up a new pair of pumps, but it’s an art installation by SOHO artists Michael Emgreen and Ingar Dragset. It comments on the ubiquitousness of consumerism and the effects of gentrification on local populations. It’s also just a weird attraction and perfectly ‘grammable…if you buy into that kinda thing. Located near the popular artist’s retreat Marfa, Prada Marfa is very remote, but a great addition to road trips between El Paso and San Antonio.
Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
Sweet Willy is a beagle. He is a very large beagle. In fact, he has the honor of being the largest beagle in the world. He is also an inn. Climb Sweet Willy’s back stairs and enter the Dog Bark Park Inn, a dog-themed getaway in the heart of Idaho. While you’re there, visit the chainsaw gallery, where you can find your very own dogs carved with, you guessed it, a chainsaw. Sweet Willy only has enough room for a small family, so he’s not great for group accommodations, but he makes an excellent day trip if you’re traveling through the Northwestern states.
Cano’s Castle, Antonito, Colorado
A masterpiece of beer can folk art, Cano’s Castle is a wacky and tacky castle built almost entirely out of beer cans and a few other bits of metal. According to the one and only Cano Espinoza, the castle’s creator, the building is an act of gratitude for his safe return from the Vietnam War. Two hours from Sante Fe, Cano’s Castle is a good first stop if starting a California road trip.
Fountain of Youth, Lewes, Delaware
First discovered by the Dutch in 1631, the Fountain of Youth in Lewes, Delaware doesn’t look like much—just a humble shelter over what was once a natural fountain that is now completely dry. But its reputation of mysterious magic precedes it. If you do find your way to Lewes, you’ll be pleasantly charmed by this small town’s sweet Mideastern charm. It’s just 2.5 hours from Washington D.C. and the perfect addition to a DC field trip or senior’s tour group.
World’s Largest Chicken Wing, Madeira Beach, Florida
America loves to boast about having the “World’s Largest Something-or-Other.” You’ve seen Sweet Willy, but have you heard about the world’s largest chicken wing? It weighs in at 1000 lbs and marks the entrance to the Madeira Beach Hooters. Take a 2.5-hour bus ride from Orlando to this glorious chicken wing by the sea.
Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue, Plains, Georgia
The Indiana Democratic Party erected this giant peanut statue during Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign, and it has remained in Plains, Georgia ever since. Yes, it’s yet another big thing, but this one has a smiley face. Visit this 13-foot-tall peanut year round. It’s just 2.5 hours from Atlanta.
Nicholas Cage’s Tomb, New Orleans, Louisiana
There’s a lot of evidence that proves Nicholas Cage is still alive. He’s a movie star after all. But there’s also this National Treasure-esque pyramid-style tomb in New Orleans awaiting its resident: Mr. Cage. Above its entrance there’s the line “Omnia Ab Uno,” which means “Everything from One.” Read into that what you will. The tomb is an enigmatic attraction, good for a quick selfie on the way from Montgomery to Houston.
Area 51 Alien Travel Center and Brothel, Amargosa Valley, Nevada
No one knows for sure what happens at Area 51. It’s a famous mystery that’s had conspiracy theorists guessing for a very long time. The Area 51 Brothel, on the other hand, is pretty clear about its goings-on. This attraction may not be for everyone but it’s definitely worth noting on any list of America’s Weirdest Roadside Attractions, because it’s…well…weird.
World’s Largest Pistachio, Alamogordo, New Mexico
More big stuff! The World’s Largest Pistachio has been called a tourist trap, and, to a certain extent, it is. But it does attract travelers to something quite lovely: McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and Winery. McGinn’s is rows and rows of pistachio trees near the Lincoln National Forest. If you’re taking a charter bus from El Paso to Albuquerque, snap a photo of the pistachio and pick up some snacks.
The Largest Burger in the World, Clearfield, Pennsylvania
It wouldn’t be an American road trip without eating something you shouldn’t. Put on those stretchy pants, saddle up to the table, and order the “Beer Barrel Belly Buster” at Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub. If you eat all 15 pounds in less than three hours, your burg is on the house. Just make sure you order a day in advance. Denny’s is just 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh and the perfect stop for extreme foodies.