We’re taking you for an experience as American as apple pie—a cross-country road trip complete with quirky roadside attractions! The most interesting thing about these stopovers are the narratives weaved by the people who built them. Collect tall tales, local legends, and success stories along the way. They’re food for thought while you’re on the asphalt with nothing but sprawling plains and blue skies for miles. The detours we make, the people we meet, and the anecdotes we gather along the way remind us that it’s as much about the journey as it is the destination. The following are just some of the best ones; we’re leaving the rest for you to discover, so pack up the car and hit the road!
Updated a year ago
Universal City, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
Kick off your road trip with an all-American meal at Bob’s Big Boy, just off Ventura Freeway in Burbank, California! Patrons come to Bob’s for the 1950s nostalgia, but only a few know about its triumphant rags-to-riches story. Founder Bob Wian was a self-made businessman—a shining example of the American Dream. He grew up during the Great Depression, was voted “most unlikely to succeed” in school, and worked late nights as a dishwasher. It was the long and arduous journey that taught him everything he would need to know to start his own drive-in diner. Little has changed throughout the years—from the menu to the decor, including the corner booth where The Beatles sat during their visit in 1965. On weekend nights, they serve you “carhop” style where a waiter would come out to the parking lot with a tray that attaches to the window frame of your car. While you're here, order Bob's original Double-Deck Hamburger. Every Friday night, step into a time warp as vintage cars roll in for the Classic Car Show (from 4:00PM onwards).
4211 West Riverside Drive, Burbank, Los Angeles, California, USA
Billings, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
Soon after the sun dips behind the Teton Mountain Range, the film starts rolling at Idaho’s Spud Drive-In Theater. It opened back in 1953 and is one of the few remaining outdoor cinemas in the country where you can still watch movies from the comforts of your car. Lean back in the passenger seat or spread out a blanket under the stars. They show recent releases, so even the kids will enjoy! On Fridays and Saturdays, let them stay past their bedtime for the double-feature showings. Catch this quintessential experience before it disappears. Drive-in movie theaters were patented in 1933 by an auto parts salesman who tied movies and cars together. Today, they are a dying breed (Spud already survived a shut-down in 2017). What helps attract crowds is the theater’s mascot: a giant potato on the back of a flat-bed truck! Snap a few pics with “Old Murphy” (the truck) and get cozy for the movie!
231 Idaho State Highway 33 Scenic, Driggs, Idaho, USA
Fort Collins, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
Refuel on five-cent coffee and old-fashioned milkshakes at Wall Drug Store! The sprawling shopping complex is the ideal spot to stretch your legs and stock up on supplies while crossing South Dakota. Wall Drug started out as a humble pharmacy that struggled to draw visitors. However, owners Dorothy and Ted Hustead turned their challenges into opportunities. It was simple: they advertised. “Get a soda, get a beer, turn next corner, just as near, to Highway 16 and 14, free ice water, Wall Drug,” was the billboard jingle that drew parched travelers off then-Route 16. In a time when people were tightening their belts, the promise of a cold drink was like an oasis in the middle of nowhere. The business took off and grew to a one-stop shop, stocking everything from necessities to souvenirs. Ice water is still free, and the hand-painted signs at Wall Drug serve as a constant reminder of the billboard that changed the game.
510 Main Street, Wall, South Dakota, USA
Tucson, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
A kitschy tourist trap further proves that the key to a good gimmick is persistence and publicity. For miles in any direction, billboards echo questions about “The Thing?” until you’re cajoled to unlock the “Mystery of the Desert.” Don’t be mistaken; its outright cheesiness is precisely why people utterly love The Thing. For only a dollar’s admission, you keep the myth alive and partake in a tradition that countless others share with you. The Thing owes its exhibits to Homer Tate who made a career out of roadside attractions. Some of his best handiwork include mummies, mermaids, and shrunken heads. It took another man, Thomas Prince, to make The Thing an institution in Arizona. After you’ve seen all there is (no spoilers!), a Dairy Queen will be waiting to welcome you with a gust of cool air. Contemplate what it is you just saw over an icy treat, and commemorate your trip with the much-needed souvenir from the shop next door.
2631 North Johnson Road, Benson, Arizona
Fargo, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
Take a photo with American legend Paul Bunyan and his companion, Babe the Blue Ox! He has statues in various states, but this particular one in his hometown of Minnesota is the oldest. It was built in 1937, and it harks back to an even further past. The frontier and Northwest logging regions echoed with folktales, like the accounts of Paul Bunyan, from around the campfire. Back when European settlers were still scouting the vast landscape of this New World, they told stories of a great lumberjack who was as big as a mountain and strong as a bear. His footprints formed the Thousand Lakes of Minnesota, and he accidentally carved out the Grand Canyon by dragging his ax behind him. A running theme throughout the countless narratives is how he braved unforgiving environments or changed the landscape—something that resonated deeply with the tale-telling loggers.
300 Bemidji Avenue North, Bemidji, Minnesota, USA
Fargo, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
A significant number of America’s attractions started following a trend when interstate travel became easier. Each state would boast the “World’s Biggest” to lure travelers and boost local business. North Dakota’s own claim to roadside fame is the “World’s Largest Buffalo” statue, christened Dakota Thunder! It’s more than just fodder for your Camera Roll. After the obligatory photo-op, learn all about a time when the buffalo played a pivotal role to survival. The sculpture serves to draw people to the nearby National Buffalo Museum and Frontier Village. Here, recount the lives of the Plains Indians and early European settlers, respectively. Both groups relied on every single part of the bison to provide everything from food to bone tools.
Frontier Village, 17th Street Southeast, Jamestown, North Dakota, USA
Henderson, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
The nursery rhymes were true, London Bridge was falling down! The City of London sold its eponymous bridge when they found that it was sinking into the Thames River under the weight of modern traffic. Its new home would be “across the pond” on Lake Havasu in Arizona. Local businessman and land developer, Robert McCulloch, bought the bridge for USD2.5 million and had it transported for USD7 million more. It was dismantled, shipped, and reassembled, structurally fortified in the process. It was a mad idea fueled by even crazier motivation. The London Bridge was intended as a magnet to entice potential residents to McCulloch’s newly established Lake Havasu City. The plan was bold enough to work. The amalgam of houses, resorts, and everyday amenities are a testament to this one man’s outlandish plan that flourished in The Land of Opportunity.
Lake Havasu City, Arizona, USA
Fargo, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
The massive scrap-metal sculptures on the Enchanted Highway are a welcome sight after miles of empty horizon. There are seven in total: Geese in Flight, Deer Crossing, Grasshoppers, Fisherman’s Dream, Pheasants on the Prairie, Teddy Roosevelt Rides Again, and Tin Family. Whether you pass at dusk, dawn, or any time in between, they’re always ready to charm you. Self-taught artist Gary Greff made each monolithic installation. He began the project to counter the extinction of small towns such as his own, Regent, North Dakota. The invention of automobiles (and the industry boom) opened up rural communities and out-of-town business. However, it was also the call for quicker routes that threatened to kill these parts. Attractions like the Enchanted Highway invite people to admire the view while saving towns like Regent from getting bypassed by interstate highways.
100 1/2 Avenue, Regent, North Dakota, USA
Columbus, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
A feather from the World’s Oldest Chicken, a double-headed bird, and a Megalodon fossil tooth are just some of the things that find their way into the Museum of Wonder. None of them can be verified for authenticity, of course, but they do their job of amusing visitors. This mobile world was hand-crafted by local artists Butch Anthony and Mr. John Henry. Drive through their roadside outpost for a glimpse into the unusual and otherworldly! The creative minds behind the museum are just as fascinating as the artifacts inside. For example, Mr. John Henry was born and raised in Alabama. He seemed destined for a long career in farming ahead of him until he discovered a turnip with a human face on it. It turns out life was pulling him towards a path of artistry. They constantly add new stuff, so you’re bound to come across something that tickles your whimsy. Bring home a piece of magic—most of the things here are for sale as well!
970 Highway 169 Seale, Alabama, USA
Manchester, United States • Recommendation • 17 August 2018
Some quirky stopovers have neither rhyme nor reason; but after hours on the road, it’s worth a few giggles and playful pics! Gorilla Holding a VW Beetle was built as a promotional statue for a local car dealership. The Volkswagen Beetle that is held precariously 19-feet overhead is the real thing! Sit in the gorilla’s outstretched hand like so many others have before. You’ll be surprised at how popular it is. The statue was designed as a goof between the owner and a local artist but has struck a chord with passing roadsters. The gorilla is named “Queen Connie,” so remember to treat her like a lady while you sit on her palm (be careful, you could fall)! You’ll encounter many profound discoveries, but Queen Connie is here to remind us that roadside attractions and the newfound mobility that Americans gained with cars was a chance at unabashed fun!
2829 U.S. Highway 7, Leicester, Vermont, USA
Here, there’s a lot more to cafes than cups of coffee!
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