Nothing encapsulates the proud American tradition of road tripping better than the hundreds of roadside attractions that line our highways and interstates. From the kitschy to the downright strange, there are many can’t-miss gems. The locations on this list are some of our favorites. The next time you or your family head out, be sure to leave a little extra time to explore along the way to your final destination.
Sputnik Crash Site – Manitowoc, Wisconsin
In September 1962, the Russian satellite came crashing back to Earth from its orbit and landed in the middle of a small-town street in Wisconsin. A plaque marks the spot where the debris touched down and you can see an actual chunk of the satellite in the nearby Rahr-West Art Museum.
Petrified Wood Park – Lemmon, South Dakota
Built in 1932, the Petrified Wood Park takes up a whole city block. It was no small feat: The park’s defining structure, the castle, weighs more than 300 tons and is composed entirely of petrified wood, fossils and other found objects. It’s the perfect place for a quick stop and roadside picnic.
The Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota
If you have kids, the Enchanted Highway is a must-see road trip adventure. However, even adults can appreciate the soaring, surreal sculptures that span the 30-mile stretch of road. At the end of the display, there is a motel and café to complete the journey.
Carhenge – Alliance, Nebraska
Is it art? Is it just a monument dreamt up by a true car lover? Not matter why it was constructed, it’s exactly what it sounds like: the classic English monument, Stonehenge, re-created out of cars. And its majesty truly rivals the original. Be sure to catch it around sunset, when the auto-shaped shadows are sure to delight.
The Geographic Center of the United States – Lebanon, Kansas
Much like the Four Corners monument on the border of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah, or the Continental Divide, the Geographic Center of the United States is a prime photo opportunity for any family vacation. The site also encourages visitors to leave small tokens or gifts for those who come after them.
The World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Darwin, Minnesota
From balls of barbed wire to balls of stamps, roadside attractions are not shy about showcasing obsessive collecting. While other states may boast about their large collections of twine, The World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Darwin is unique because it was rolled by one man: Francis Johnson. He began his project in 1950 and called it complete in 1979. And we have to say, 29 years of rolling makes a fine ball of twine.
Snake Alley – Burlington, Iowa
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include a road that also doubles as a roadside attraction. Snake Alley is often billed as the “Crookedest Street in the World.” The road was originally designed to move traffic up a hill that was far too steep for a straight road and to allow better footing for horses. With those days long past, it’s now simply a crazy, winding road that are a blast to drive down.
The Full Mark Twain Experience – Hannibal, Missouri
Hannibal, Mo., is the boyhood home of author Mark Twain. As a tribute to the town’s most famous resident, there is no shortage of sights to see. From touring the cottage where Mark Twain spent his childhood to giant statues right outside city limits, Hannibal is truly a full day of Huckleberry Finn-worthy adventures.
Bannack Ghost Town – Dillon, Montana
As part of Bannack State Park, this ghost town is one of the most meticulously preserved in the state of Montana. Since it was never fully developed as a tourist attraction, it’s very quiet with small crowds during the day, making it an easy pit stop. The town is open May through October from 8:00 a.m. to dusk.
Before hitting the road this summer, be sure to use the Cenex Trip Planner to chart your course. All Cenex locations now offer TOP TIER™ Detergent Gasoline, a premium fuel that improves fuel efficiency and engine performance, giving you more worry-free miles on the road.
Photo courtesy of FLICKR USER.
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