Roadside Attractions Posted by gary on Apr 4, 2019 in Culture, Travel
The dictionary defines Americana as “artifacts related to the history, geography, folklore and culture of the United States”. If you really want to see Americana, you really need to take a road trip. Get in your car, stay off the highways, take a real map, and look at the signs along the road. Those signs will point you to some fascinating people, places, and sights which might otherwise be overlooked. Welcome to the roadside attraction.
Taking a road trip will bring you off the beaten path, places unknown by the general public. These trips are quite popular among many Americans. I have friends who take them every year. They pick states they’ve never visited and just go. They discover diners serving food which is unique to the region, beautiful scenery, and some genuinely odd local features.
You might find America’s Stonehenge, a maze of chambers, walls, and astronomically accurate stone constructions. More than 4000 years old, its origin and purpose remain a total mystery.
Perhaps you’d be interested in the International Cryptozoology Museum, devoted to creatures around the world like Bigfoot, Nessie, and other cryptoids. Be the first among your friends to take a selfie with a frozen lump of Yeti poop!
There’s the Cadillac Ranch, an art installation of ten half-buried Cadillacs in Amarillo, Texas. Car buffs (people who really know way too much about cars) can tell you the model year of each Cadillac by the shape and size of the car’s distinctive tail fins.
Billboards, found along any road in America, will advertise many of these attractions. Or, they may simply tease tourists that something interesting is awaiting them on the road ahead. If you are in any way an adventurous spirit, your curiosity will likely prompt you to at least investigate. After all, who can resist a sign promising fun?
You’ll encounter such noteworthy features as the world’s largest ball of paint in Indiana, a museum devoted to salt and pepper shakers in Tennessee, or a steel and concrete skeleton framework for an exact replica of Noah’s Ark in Maryland. (Note: they hope to complete it someday.)
I’m particularly fond of the world’s largest covered wagon. Because it’s located in Illinois, the builders somehow reasoned that Abraham Lincoln should be aboard it reading a book.
If you’re in southern California you might like the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Two giant dinosaurs which can be seen from miles away, these sculptures were quite popular in the 1980s. You can still buy souvenirs from a shop located in the belly of Dinny, a giant Apatosaurus.
There’s a giant talking cow in Wisconsin and a vacuum cleaner museum in Missouri. You can stay at a Clown Hotel, decorated with the images of over 600 clowns which also overlooks a cemetery, in Nevada. Good luck with that one.
Seriously, though, any road trip is an adventure. And roadside attractions are wonderful places to visit. You’ll meet like-minded people who also couldn’t resist a little side trip to a place called fun.
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