Weirdest Road Trip Destinations in America
Everyone knows about Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon, but where do you take a road trip when you want to hit the road and see something unusual, something offbeat, something funky, something, well…weird? Check out some of these stupendously awesome and weird road trip spots from around the U.S.
Ever wonder what the Civil War would have been like if Lincoln could ride a T-Rex? No? Just me? Well, for those curious, you can drive out to the Dinosaur Kingdom in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Aside from being a very cool place to mess with your little nephew’s perspective of history, this sanctuary for fiberglass reptiles tells the story of an alternate reality in which dinosaurs were discovered in an abandoned mine shaft during the Civil War by Union Solders. Sadly for the Bluecoats, these aren’t the friendly “Dino” dinosaurs from the Flintstones. As visitors make their way along the park’s path, they bear witness to the frozen “chase” of a T-Rex hunting down cavalry soldiers, a knife fight with a Brontosaurus, and a Triceratops trampling through the forest. One has to wonder though why there aren’t any Confederate Soldiers included in the melee, but then again, this is the South.
The Fremont Troll
Situated under a bridge (where else would a troll be?), the Fremont Troll is a giant concrete statue that looks like its mythical namesake. Several stories high, the troll’s silver hubcap eye glares at visitors while it clutches a Volkswagen Beatle in its knobby hand. There’s not really much rhyme or reason to this one, and it seems to rise out of nowhere in a residential neighborhood, which actually makes an extra cool little hidden treasure.
Constructed between 1923 and 1951, the Coral Castle consists of more than 1,000 tons of coral fashioned into stairs, doorways, chairs, and assorted sculptures. Its creator, Edward Leedskalnin, worked on the structure in the dead of night for years without any modern tools to aid him in its construction. The mystery of how a single man could create such a thing is almost as inexplicable as why he created it. According to legend, early in his life the Latvia born Leedskalnin was engaged to marry a beautiful young woman. Just a day before the marriage, she broke things off, leaving Leedskalnin completely heartbroken and distraught. While many men would simply turn to drink, Leedskalin instead turned to coral–lots, and lots, and lots of coral– in what would become a lifelong obsession and monument to his unrequited love. As a fun fact, Billy Idol recorded the song “Sweet Sixteen” as a tribute to Leedskalin and the Coral Castle.
The House on the Rock
Iowa County, Wisconsin
If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, then you may remember this place from book “American Gods,” in which the main characters use the gigantic carousel as a portal to a mystical realm. For the rest of us who don’t read fantasy novels, “The House on The Rock” bears some explanation. In a nutshell, The House on the Rock is a collection of odd collections. An architectural wonder in and of itself, the house sits atop a column of stone known as “Deer Shelter Rock.” Inside, the eccentric architect Alex Jordan, Jr. created a bizarre but entrancing patchwork of structures which include a re-creation of an early twentieth century American town, rooms devoted to ocean scenes complete with giant sea creatures, a cavern containing the largest indoor carousel in the world, and an “Infinity Room” that gives the illusion of going on forever.
Within these rooms are collections of automated musical instruments, stuffed animals, animatronics characters, Tiffany lamps, mannequins, masks, and more. Novelist Jane Smiley summed up Alex Jordan, Jr. and his odd house, stating: “Everything is simply massed together, and Alex Jordan comes to seem like the manifestation of pure American acquisitiveness, and acquisitiveness of a strangely boyish kind, as if he had finalized all his desires in childhood and never grown into any others.”
The Biggest Ball of Twine
Surprised? You knew that we had to include this one. Another weird wonder located in the Midwest (coincidence?), the biggest ball of twine was created by Francis A. Johnson by rolling twine for four hours a day, every day, for 29 years. And wee-doggie, boy did all that winding pay off! After years and years, instead of just a bitty ball of twine, Johnson had one big, gigantic ball of twine 12-feet in diameter and over 10,400 pounds. Of course, Johnson eventually died of emphysema which was rumored to have been caused by years of twine dust, but that is neither here nor there. If you happen to cruise out to Johnson and the Twine Ball’s final resting place of Darwin, Minnesota during the second Saturday in August, you’ll also get to experience the fabulous celebration known as “Twine Ball Day.” Yey.