There’s an almost inconceivable length of paved road in the United States. With so many miles of roadways, you’re bound to end up with some unexpectedly great stuff to pull over and see on a road trip. Here are the six greatest roadside attractions in the U.S.
Clown Motel | Tonopah, Nevada
The existence of Clown Motel has to be on the same level of creepiness as a clipped fingernail museum or an audio/visual art gallery called “I Follow People Around and Breathe on Them and Smell Their Hair Real Loud.” It’s not just us saying it, either. The first sentence of Clown Motel’s website brags about the place being named “America’s Scariest Motel.” There are more than 600 clowns in the motel’s collection. We won’t presume to speak for you, but we’re confident saying we’ve gone most days of most of our years not thinking about clowns even one time, which is working out pretty well. But, if you're game, go book a suite and let us know how it turns out.
Cabazon Dinosaurs | Cabazon, California
A level of playfulness is needed in any great roadside attraction. Luckily, the Cabazon Dinosaurs pack quirkiness in spades. They’re big, aging, humorously fake looking dinos. Stop and snap a few pics next time you pass by.
Enchanted Highway | Exit 72, I-94, Regent, North Dakota
Most of the things on this list are going to have some kind of kitschy weirdness to them, exactly the quality you’d expect in roadside attractions. But the Enchanted Highway’s a little different in that there’s not much irony to its enjoyment. The highway itself is a series of metal sculptures along an unnamed stretch of road (Enchanted Highway is more the name for the sculptures than an official road designation). Each one is worth seeing in its own way, but they all share the quality of being modern art sculptures that won’t make you roll your eyes into the back of your head. They mostly follow a natural theme, with huge metal animals dotting the 32 miles of highway.
Wall Drug Store | Wall, South Dakota
Wall Drug Store put up some handmade signs advertising ice water back in 1936 that included a quick jingle Dorothy Hustead composed. Pretty much as soon as the signs went up, there was a line outside their drug store. Since then, the drug store’s turned into something closer to a farmers market, with thousands of people visiting every day.
UFO Welcome Center | Bowman, South Carolina
The UFO Welcome Center might be the epitome of roadside attractions. There’s absolutely nothing official about it. No government or international agencies or shady conspiracies. Jody Pendarvis just thought he’d build a decent place for aliens to take a load off. It has everything a humanoid extraterrestrial visitor might need after interplanetary travel, including a shower, television and air conditioning. It also has Jody on hot days, since he stays in the welcome center when the air conditioning in his trailer can’t keep up with the heat.
UFO Watchtower | San Luis Valley, Colorado
It’s a toss-up between dinosaurs and UFOs for which are more stereotypically “roadside.” In fact, for this entry, let us parrot what we just said in the UFO shack’s description before it. Stuff like the UFO Watchtower is exactly how we’ll make first contact. We can develop as many different types of telescope and transmitter as we want, but it’s Judy Messoline’s metal scaffolding that’s going to prove we’re not alone in the galaxy.