In May 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson and Sewall Crocker set out from San Francisco headed to New York City in what is considered the first ever cross-country road trip. Although the pair met with countless disasters, including getting stranded in the desert for eight days, modern amenities all but eliminate the possibility of such unfortunate occurrences, and car trips remain a popular way to travel.
Road trips can be one of the best ways to experience the diversity of American landscapes and cultures, whether thousands of miles cross country or down a few hundred miles of coastline. While sticking to the Interstate may get someone to their destination faster, opting to cruise down state highways and backroads can offer a rich experience that never happens at 65 miles per hour — namely, the roadside attraction.
From towering dinosaur statues that break the monotony of cornfield country, or a live tree you can drive your car through, to a coral castle built mysteriously in the dark by a reclusive old man, these classic hallmarks of America are what make road trips memorable when driving in the middle of nowhere.
24/7 Tempo reviewed hundreds of roadside attractions across the country, selecting for popularity, novelty, and visual appeal. We excluded national parks and unadorned natural wonders (e.g. the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes), favoring sites that reflect some aspect of human creation. Many are rusted, abandoned, or handmade out of junk; while some of them may not be among the best museums in the country or the most beautiful attractions in America, they are worth a break and a few weird photos to remember them by.
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