There’s something so mundane yet fascinating about neon road signage. The services advertised are simple: a clean bed, a comforting meal or a quirky roadside attraction. Yet visually, these neon wonders never fail to grab drivers’ (or photographers’) attention. Today’s photo by Flickr user JasonBechtel is case in point. The brilliant pinks, blues and greens combined with the unique typeface are both eye-catching a familiar: like an old friend from the road welcoming you back into town.
America’s heartland is home to plentiful crops, rolling hills and orange sunsets. You can find a Dairy Queen next to a cherry tree and park yourself in front of a drive-in movie on a hot summer night. There’s also the world’s largest bottle of ketchup, and enchanted highway and the Jolly Green Giant…. wait, what?
It’s true, travelers. The Midwest is home to many quirky attractions that might seem downright weird, but make for great roadside fun. Here are 10 that are worthy of your time:
World’s Largest Catsup Bottle – Collinsville, Illinois
Along the Mississippi River in tiny Collinsville, Illinois, stands the world’s largest catsup bottle. It was built in 1949 and used to serve as a water tower for the Catsup factory that once existed there. The Catsup tower is 170 feet tall and located next to Route 159.
Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz – Liberal, Kansas
Whether you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz or simply appreciate the classic film, dropping by this Land of Oz museum is a must. This roadside attraction is located in Liberal, Kansas and visitors can tour a replica of Dorothy’s house in addition to the actual Land of Oz. Don’t forget to say hello to the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow.
Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth, Minnesota
Even those who aren’t a fan of vegetables will be mesmerized by this 60 foot tall replica of the Jolly Green Giant. It rests alongside I-90 and Highway 169 in Blue Earth, Minnesota and was built in 1979 to celebrate the city’s canning business.Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota
This 32 mile stretch off I-94 in North Dakota is appropriately dubbed the Enchanted Highway. It was designed by Gary Greff, a ND inhabitant, who wanted to improve the tourism business in the state. The highway features a variety of quirky sculptures, including a giant family made of tin and massive statues of insect and animals.
World’s Largest Easel / Van Gogh replica – Goodland, Kansas
Located along I-70 in the town of Goodland, Kansas passers by can ooh and ah over a 768-square foot replica of Van Gogh’s Three Sunflowers. In addition to being the world’s largest Van Gogh reproduction, it’s also the world’s largest easel.
The House on the Rock – Spring Green, Wisconsin
It may seem a bit dangerous, but don’t be fooled. the House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin is home to an eclectic collection of armor, pipe organs, the world’s largest carousel, fiberglass elephants and pretty much anything else your brain can think up. The house itself is perched atop a rock (hence the name) and located at 5754 Hwy. 23, Spring Green Wisconsin.
The Corn Palace – Mitchell, South Dakota
If there’s one thing the Midwest is especially known for, it’s got to be its infinite supply of corn. Visit the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota and you’ll have all the proof you need. The entire palace-shaped building is constructed of thousands of bushes of corn, grass and grains and is re-furbished annually.
Precious Moments Chapel – Carthage, Missouri
Collector or not, the Precious Moments Chapel is definitely worth checking out. It’s located in Carthage, Missouri and consists of dozens of Precious Moments statues and paintings in and around the chapel. Visitors can stop by from 9 to 5 p.m. on 4321 S. Chapel Road off I-44.
Villisca Ax Murder House – Villisca, Iowa
The Ax Murder House in Villisca, Iowa is coined one of the scariest places on Earth for a good reason. There, an unknown butcher is said to have crept into the house (owned by Josia Moore) to kill Moore, his wife and their six children. The house, located at 323 East 4th. Street, has since turned into a reportedly haunted museum.
Heidelberg Project – Detroit, Michigan
The Heidelberg Project, located at 3600 Hedelberg Street in Detroit, is just as cool-looking as it is beneficial to the Earth. It’s essentially a giant sculpture made of random trash and debris. The urban junkscape consists of cars painted and filled with trashed stuffed animals, painted pieces of plywood and an entire house decorated with brightly colored rubbish.
Wendy Gould is a Seed.com writer
Let friends and family share in your road trip adventure by posting details along the way via your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media site. People at home are curious about your adventures, and seeing your update may trigger a memory or suggestion they have to improve your trip.
With a smartphone such as the Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid or Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, it’s a snap to post a status update of your trip or take and upload a photo or video of a roadside attraction. Smartphone Facebook apps and apps such as Bloglive make it easy to upload your content.
Of course, don’t do any of this while driving. Wait until you’re stopped, or have a passenger do the posting.
With Summer comes the road trip. That inevitable urge to get out on the open road in search of adventure and fun. And let’s not forget, the chance you might come upon a quirky roadside attraction or sign? It’s this perfectly posed roadside T-Rex that got us looking at Flickr user Peter Rivera’s shot today. Peter captured this strange beast near Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Did you check out our roadside attractions day on Gadling? If not, make sure to take a look.
Have you ever heard of Clearfield, Pennsylvania? Neither have I. But it’s not much of a detour off Interstate 80, right in the center of the state, and the little town has a pretty amusing claim to fame.
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield is the home of the world’s largest hamburgers. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, here is where you’ll find the “largest hamburger commercially available,” and if you can finish it, you’ll have a place in the record books, too.
Owner Denny Liegey has been challenging customers with his behemoth burgers since the early 1990’s. The pub challenges begin with a 2-pound burger, which seems tiny compared to 3, 6, and 15-pound versions. Those who finish their burgers (one challenger per burger, or two for the 15-pound “belly buster,” and there’s a time limit, of course) get their name and picture in the restaurant’s hall of fame, as well as a t-shirt, certificate of completion, and a discount on their bill.
According to Denny, only one person has ever conquered the “Ye Olde 96er,” which is 6 pounds of beef and 9 pounds altogether. This challenger was just “a little, skinny college girl from Princeton!”
The largest burger ever cooked at Denny’s was the 123-pound monster pictured above. Read more about how Denny makes his giant burgers here.
So, do you think you could eat the world’s largest burger? Perhaps a better question is why would you want to try?
The big burgers require several hours of preparation time, so if you’re going to take on the challenge, call ahead. Good luck!