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7 Surreal Landscapes Across America

9 Quirky Roadside Attractions To Plan Your Next Road Trip Around

Carhenge, a replica of England's Stonehenge
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

see more
Hi, I'm Karen!

Karen is a Scottish freelance travel and culture writer based in the US. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, National Geographic, BBC, and Condé Nast Traveler.

see more

Driving distances in the US are often huge, so a little diversion to break up the journey is always welcome—no matter how kitschy, quirky, or downright bizarre. From the world’s largest elephant statue on the east coast, to a to-scale replica of Stonehenge made out of vintage automobiles in the Midwest, here are some pit stops worth pulling over for.

The Cabazon Dinosaurs

Stop off at the Cabazon Dinosaurs between LA and Palm Springs. | Photo Credit: TonelsonProductions / Shutterstock


After a day exploring the best of Los Angeles and Palm Springs, head along the I-10 for a glimpse at Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex towering over the road. The 150-foot (46-meter) Brontosaurus and 65-foot (20-meter) Tyrannosaurus rex have greeted drivers for more than 35 years and are a familiar pop culture image, having made appearances in music videos and movies including Pee-wee's Big Adventure. (And you can still climb through Mr. Rex’s mouth, Pee-wee Herman–style.)

Insider tip: The dinosaur park is open daily and you can purchase tickets at the door.

The International Car Forest of the Last Church

These roadside car creations are free to visit. Photo: Hgtravl / Tripadvisor
The International Car Forest is a favorite for those passing through Goldfield. | Photo Credit: Hgtravl / Tripadvisor


Midway between the stretch of I-95 that connects the bright lights of Reno and the even brighter lights of Las Vegas is the mysterious town of Goldfield, Nevada. After touring the Strip, head to this Wild West boomtown-turned-ghost town (literally, the historic Goldfield Hotel is said to be haunted) for a peek at the International Car Forest, an open-air art gallery/ junkyard. Home to more than 40 cars—some with their noses buried into the ground, others balanced atop one another—each one functions as oversized canvases for visiting artists who adorn them with constantly changing artworks.

Insider tip: The International Car Forest is free to visit and open 24/7.

The World's Biggest Beagle

You can stay inside "Sweet Willy" or just admire him from the roadside. | Photo Credit: fletch182 / Tripadvisor


Created by chainsaw artists over four years and opened in 2003, the 30-foot (9-meter) tall Sweet Willy is both the world’s biggest beagle and home to the Dog Bark Park Inn. But you don’t have to stay at the 2-bedroom guesthouse to appreciate this roadside attraction along Highway 95 in Cottonwood, Idaho. You can also visit the on-site studio and the Dog Bark Park, which features chainsaw dog carvings by resident artists.

Insider tip: The free visitor center for day visitors is open year-round.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is a colorful, eye-catching masterpiece. | Photo Credit: Ovidiu Hrubaru / Shutterstock


After touring Palm Springs by bike, hop in a car and head south towards Niland, California, where the 50-foot-high (15-meter-high), 150-foot-wide (46-meter-wide) multicolored mound that is Salvation Mountain can’t fail to catch your attention. Built by local resident Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain is a shrine dedicated to his faith that’s made of adobe bricks, tires, and car parts; covered in a jumble of hearts, birds, and flowers; and crowned by the words “God Is Love” and a white cross.

Insider tip: The site is open daily from dawn until dusk. Admission is free, but many visitors donate a can of paint to help with the upkeep.

The World's Largest Basket

This basket-looking building is far from basket-sized. | Photo Credit: CJM Grafx / Shutterstock


On Ohio State Route 16, around 40 minutes east of Columbus, you can’t miss the World’s Largest Picnic Basket. Standing 7-stories tall and more than 200 feet (61 meters) wide, the basket opened in 1997 as the headquarters of the basket-making Longaberger Company. Today the building’s future is uncertain, as the company has since moved to new offices while plans to convert the basket into a hotel fell through.

Insider tip: While you can’t currently enter the big basket, the exterior is easy enough to spot on the southside of Route 16.

Lucy the Elephant

You'll need to book if you want to tour Lucy the Elephant. | Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock

New Jersey

Take a detour off the Atlantic City Expressway to Margate City and climb inside New Jersey’s beloved 65-foot-high (22-meter) Lucy the Elephant. The oldest roadside attraction in the US, Lucy was the brainchild of a real estate speculator who in 1881 commissioned the eye-catching structure in the hope of attracting tourists. It worked and a hotel business grew up around her. Since then, she’s been home to a tavern, offices, and a restaurant, though is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

Insider tip: There’s no charge to enter the grounds, but you’ll need to buy a ticket to take the guided tour through Lucy.


Can't make it to England? Don't sweat it. | Photo Credit: marekuliasz / Shutterstock


England’s prehistoric monument, Stonehenge, is a place of mystery that, thousands of years after its creation, remains almost as enigmatic as ever. Nebraska’s Carhenge, on the other hand, has few secrets to tell. Built by Jim Reinders in 1987 as a memorial to his father just outside Alliance in the Western Nebraska Sandhills, Carhenge mirrors the layout of Stonehenge—to scale—using vintage cars, all spray painted gray.

Insider tip: Carhenge is open year-round, from dawn to dusk. Visit at sunrise—or better yet, the summer solstice—for that Stonehenge-Druid vibe.

The Jimmy Carter Peanut of Plains Statue

The Jimmy Carter Peanut of Plains Statue offers a worthy photo op. | Photo Credit: 2flyby / Tripadvisor


Every president gets a library named for them, but only Jimmy Carter has been honored with a giant peanut. This 13-foot-high (4-meter-high) peanut was built by the Indiana Democratic Party in honor of Carter's 1976 bid for the Presidency—he’s a former peanut farmer—then shipped to Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia, where it has since served as a roadside attraction.

Insider tip: Rumor has it that the 39th president is not a fan of the grinning goober—he’d probably prefer you visited the nearby Jimmy Carter National Historic Site instead.

The World's Largest Teapot

Charming Chester Teapot is a West Virginia must-visit. | Photo Credit: Lyndsay D /Tripadvisor

West Virginia

Make time for tea along US Highway 30—or at least time for a few photos of the Chester Teapot—the world’s largest teapot. Chester, West Virginia, was once home to the world’s largest pottery industry, which the 14-foot tall (4-meter) teapot was built to celebrate, before being turned into a concession stand selling teapots, snacks, and souvenirs. Nowadays, it's a free-to-access roadside attraction.

Insider tip: Visit on National Teapot Day in August for celebrations, snack vendors, and live music.

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