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8 of the Strangest Roadside Attractions in the United States

Lucy the Elephant, a New Jersey Tourist Attraction
MSPhotographic/Shutterstock

If you’re traveling by road and looking for some interesting sights to see, the options on this list may be worth a look if you don’t mind the strange and absurd. Every state has a plethora of weird tourist traps.

You’re sure to find some roadside attractions even stranger than those listed here, but these deserve an award for weirdness.

Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo

If you’ve always wanted to pet an alligator, the Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo in Hot Springs is the place to do it. While you probably won’t be petting a full-grown gator, you can hold a baby alligator.

A zoo may not sound like much of a strange attraction, but it’s the non-living creature on the premises that may draw the curiosity seekers. This petting zoo is home to Pigmy goats, wolves, alligators, and a merman. Yes, you read that right.

Oddporium

In Arden, Delaware, you’ll find a strange place named the Oddporium. The name of this attraction is a clear indication of what you’ll find inside this weird gallery of stuff. You may find similar galleries and museums in other U.S. states, but this is the one to check out if you find yourself in Delaware.

Some of the fantastic things you’ll witness, as you peruse the depths of this building, include bones, embalming devices, coffins, taxidermy critters, and more. It’s quite the collection and a magnificent place to feed the fancy of anyone with a morbid, dark side.

Monkey Island

If you’re visiting the west coast of the state of Florida, it’s worth it to visit the Homosassa Resort in Homosassa, Florida. While the resort itself and its Crabhouse are great things to visit and check out, what makes this area worth a visit are the residents of Monkey Island, who are viewable from the resort.

Dubbed “Monkey Alkatraz,” Monkey Island is a small island where a group of thieving monkies was banished in the 1960s. While the original monkies are no longer alive, some of their descendants and other additions continue to reside on Monkey Island, with a nifty house built for them and all the fresh fruits and vegetables they need for a happy life.

Doll’s Head Trail

Constitution Lakes Park in Atlanta, Georgia, offers an excellent walking path for those who enjoy fitness and the great outdoors. Along that path, you’ll find something a bit unique and perhaps a little bit eerie.

Doll’s Head Trail combines creepiness, nature, and found art. As you walk the trail at the park, you’ll come to a doll arm pointing the way to this exciting art installation. Created by Atlanta resident Joel Slaton, the trail is home to art created from items found in the park itself.

The art you’ll see (which you can also contribute to with items you find while walking through the park) is made with marker ink, found doll parts, fishing gear, antique bricks from the Brock Company that once stood there, and railroad artifacts.

Dinosaur World

It’s somewhat likely that many U.S. states are home to some sort of dinosaur tourist trap. Michigan has Dinosaur Gardens in the northern part of the state and used to have another home for giant dinosaur statues in the southern part of the state as well. If you’re looking for one of the larger destinations for dinosaur lovers, Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky, has hundreds of dinosaurs waiting for photo ops.

Walking through Dinosaur World enables you to see dinosaurs in nature as if they’re alive and roaming around you (though these won’t step on you or eat you). Interactive exhibits there are fun for children of all ages. Dinosaur World even has a dinosaur-themed playground and a huge gift shop.

Castle Rock

Castle Rock lookout point
T-I/Shutterstock

Not to be mistaken with the Stephen King-based television series, Castle Rock is an unusual formation that you’ll find if you head over the Mighty Mac from Michigan’s lower peninsula to the upper peninsula. Located in Saint Ignace, Michigan, Castle Rock is a huge rock that looks like it could be a castle.

Sometimes, nature makes some of the most intriguing roadside attractions, and this one is definitely visible from the road. Visible as it may be as you drive by, it’s more fun to walk up to it and look across the waters of Lake Huron to Canada’s shoreline on the other side. The top of the rock is about 200 feet up. While you’re there, check out the extensive gift shop.

Lucy the Elephant

Some of the world’s most popular tourist traps are made up of giant things — from the biggest cast iron pan to a giant eagle head. One interesting giant that you may want to check out if you’re road-tripping through New Jersey is Lucy the Elephant.

Lucy the Elephant is a giant structure in the form of all elephant. She stands six stories high and is found in Margate City, New Jersey. She’s called the World’s Greatest Elephant and is included on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks. Tourists can learn about the magnificent architecture that created this creature and requires that you walk a lot of steps heading up the spiral staircase. From the howdah atop Lucy’s back, you have a 360-degree view of Margate City.

The Blue Whale of Catoosa

In Catoosa, Oklahoma, you can find a whale. This blue whale may seem out of place stuck in a landlocked state, but it’s really just a unique piece of architecture. The Blue Whale and its surrounding attractions were built in the 1970s. It closed down for a while during the late 90s, but it was fixed up and reopened in the 2000s.

If an 80-foot long whale sounds like something you’d want to walk inside of, this is the destination for you. Once upon a time, swimming was available around the Blue Whale, but that’s no longer allowed. Initially, there was a small zoo, but that is no longer part of the attraction, either.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »