Set Your Sites; Visit a Kremlin-Like Palace Made out of Corn or Feed Ostriches by Hand. These Wacky Roadside Attractions Are Worth a Stop

By Lahuta, David | Newsweek, September 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Set Your Sites; Visit a Kremlin-Like Palace Made out of Corn or Feed Ostriches by Hand. These Wacky Roadside Attractions Are Worth a Stop


Lahuta, David, Newsweek


Byline: David Lahuta

The open road calls, but are you ready to answer? Alongside America's purple mountain majesties and amber waves of grain lie some of the nation's lesser-known treasures--like the world's largest ball of twine, a museum with a two-foot potato chip and a 65-foot elephant named Lucy, constructed of wood and tin. Road trippers, mark your maps:

ALASKA: Santa Claus House

Sleigh bells ring year-round in North Pole, Alaska--where you'll see reindeers Dasher and Blitzen, not to mention jolly Saint Nicholas himself. Hand over $7.50 for the deed to an inch of snow-covered land--a bargain even the Grinch wouldn't complain about. 101 St. Nicholas Drive, 800-588-4078, santaclaushouse.com

ARIZONA: Ostrich Ranch

Near Picacho Peak, this ranch has hatched more than 1,100 ostriches. With $2 feed, you'll have them eating right out of your hand. Exit 219 on Interstate 10, 520-466-3658, roostercogburn.com

CALIFORNIA: Tallest Thermometer

This state is known for its hot times--and it's got the world's largest thermometer to prove it. Drivers who pass Baker, Calif., on Interstate 15 must look up 134 feet for readings. Don't get a neck cramp.

CALIFORNIA: Exotic World

Once the home of dirty dancer Jennie Lee--the "Bazoom Girl"--this burlesque mu-seum houses a collection of pasties, lip prints and bejeweled G-strings. Helendale, 15 miles southwest of Barstow. 29053 Wild Road, 760-243-5261, exotic worldusa.org

COLORADO: UFO Watchtower

No abductions have been reported (yet!) at this man-made lookout spot for the extraterrestrial. The tower is located in the San Luis Valley, often referred to on "The X-Files"; it's 200 miles south of Denver, so bring a tent and stay the night. 2502 County Road 61, Hooper, 719-378-2271, ufowatchtower.com

FLORIDA: Drive-In Church

Offering two services on Sundays (8:30 and 10 a.m.), the Christian church--converted from an old drive-in movie theater--encourages visitors to join in its unique worship. Pull up, grab a communion wafer, then tune in to 88.5 on your FM dial. 3140 S. Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, 386-767-8761, driveinchurch.net

HAWAII: World's Largest Maze

A two-acre garden with seven-foot-high hibiscus hedges. Don't get lost as you try to find the pineapple-shaped center. 64-1550 Kamehameha Highway, 808-621-8408, doleplantation.com

IDAHO: Potato Museum

Highlights include a two-foot Pringle, potato hand lotion and a spud signed by Dan Quayle. Bring a friend, because each pair of visitors gets a free box of dehydrated hash browns. 130 N.W. Main Street, Blackfoot, 208-785-2517, potatoexpo.com

KANSAS: World's Largest Ball of Twine

Made from more than 7 million feet of sisal twine, this work in progress measures roughly 40 feet in circumference and weighs almost nine tons. Cawker City on Highway 24 (100 miles northwest of Abilene), 785-781-4713.

LOUISIANA: Gator Park

Watch hundreds of alligators wrestle over chicken parts. Then chomp on gator sausage and kebabs in the food court and shop for gator wallets and boots in the gift shop. Southeast of Shreveport, off Highway 1. 380 Old Bayou Pierre Road, Natchitoches, 877-354-7001, alligatorshow.com

MASSACHUSETTS: Museum of Bad Art

Clashing colors--described in tongue-in-cheek captions--are displayed in a museum "dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and celebration of bad art in all its forms." 580 High Street, Needham, 781-444-6757, www.museumofbadart.org

MINNESOTA: Jolly Green Giant

The 55-foot-tall Jolly Green Giant--along Interstate 90--has a smile that's 4 feet wide and a shoe size, 78, they won't carry at your local Foot Locker. Intersection of I-90 and Highway 169, Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce, 507-526-2916. …

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