Even as the advent of air travel cut down on the need to travel long distances by automobile, the great American road trip remains a cultural touchstone. Hundreds of thousands of Americans each year pack into a car with their friends or family on a trip to reach the opposite coast, or an amusement park in a nearby state, or a beachside resort.
And the country’s long, dull stretches of road have begotten another tradition that for many is as important to the traveler as the destination — the roadside attraction.
These curiosities range from unusual museums to Guinness World Records to strange memorials. Giant statues of beavers, an enormous moose made out of chocolate and a jolly green giant are just a few of the sights that can take your mind off the road and give you a chance to stretch your legs.
Whether it’s a giant talking penguin, or a museum dedicated to hammers, or the spot where a Soviet satellite crashed, every state has interesting, quirky, unusual, and just plain wacky places to visit, and 24/7 Wall St. took the time to find the strangest one in each state. Here’s one site for each state that’s worth getting off the exit for. They’re not the most famous or popular attraction, just ones that will make you say, “Huh, never knew that.”
The famous Route 66 was riddled with such curiosities, and they can be found all across America to this day, from famous trip routes like the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Pacific Coast Highway to the back roads and scenic routes you might take just to see an unusual sight.
Sometimes, these attractions and museums were specifically designed to be tourist traps, with no historical context for their presence. Others are sites of unusual, famous, and often infamous events in local history. In one case, the event that has not even happened yet — and probably never will.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this piece incorrectly referred to the large hammer in front of the Hammer Museum in Haines, Alaska as a ball-peen hammer.