Roadside Attractions to Visit This Summer
Spend some time with these mammoth diversions before you reach your destination.
Before kids had screens to busy them on epic family road trips, parents broke up the monotony with tourist attractions. And the bigger (and weirder) the sights (a giant frying pan, garden gnome, or can of spinach), the more effective they were at drawing passersby. There are more than 500 of these so-called world’s-largest novelties across the United States. Here are seven that are bound to make you brake for a pit stop.
Lucy the ElephantMargate, New Jersey
Six-story tall Lucy is considered to be the oldest roadside attraction, erected in 1881 by Pennsylvania entrepreneur James V. Lafferty Jr. in hopes of luring land buyers to lots in Margate, New Jersey. Lucy has served as a tavern, private residence and tourist attraction since then and is estimated to draw about 100,000 visitors each year.
Catsup BottleCollinsville, Illinois
Right off Route 159 is a 170-foot tall towering tomato condiment bottle. It was built in 1949 for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant making it one of the oldest on our list. The water tower has the capacity of 100,000 gallons. That’s a lot of catsup!
Frying PanRose Hill, North Carolina
The so-called world’s largest functional frying pan can be viewed in Rose Hill’s Town Square. It weighs two tons, can hold 200 gallons of cooking oil and has the capacity to fry 365 chickens! The mighty skillet was built in 1963 as a tribute to the area’s flourishing poultry industry and has been used to cook chickens for community festivals and events since its debut.
Largest Working ChainsawIshpeming, Michigan
Named by Guinness Book of World Records as the largest working chainsaw, “Big Gus” measures 22 feet long, 6 feet high, and 3,500 pounds. The behemoth was born in 1996 and sits on the side of the road at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap. If you’re lucky, you just might see it fired up.
Largest BuffaloJamestown, North Dakota
This 26-foot-tall, 60-ton concrete giant has been standing watch over Jamestown from the Frontier Village since 1959. Created by sculptor Elmer Petersen, he has proven to be one of the Midwest’s most popular roadside attractions for over 50 years. In 2010, the World’s Largest Buffalo received his name, Dakota Thunder.
Largest Talking CowNeilsville, Wisconsin
Chatty Belle, the so-called world’s largest talking cow stands a soaring 16 feet tall, seven times larger than the average black and white speckled Holstein. According to the attraction’s website, James Crowley, a former University of Wisconsin dairyman, estimated that a real cow that size would consume 11 tons of grain, 24.5 tons of hay, and 24.5 tons of silage per year.
Largest Ball of TwineCawker City, Kansas
Frank Stoeber started the so-called world’s largest ball of twine in 1953 and, in just four years, the giant ball of twine weighed 5,000 pounds and stood 8 feet high. In 1961 Stoeber donated the ball of twine for display to Cawker City, and since then visitors have added their own sisal to the colossal orb. Today, caretaker Linda Clover estimates its weight at more than 20,000 pounds.