One of the best things about traveling the American roadways is visiting different roadside attractions. You never know what kind of odd, or just interesting, things you will come across while traveling through The U.S. We believe that one of the best ways to find these attractions is to get off the Interstate Highway system. You will see much more if you travel along with the nation’s back roads.
There are so many interesting attractions found along the famed U.S. Rt. 66, also known as the “Mother Road”. We first started learning about RT 66 and its attractions while staying in Gallup New Mexico at the USA RV Park. Little did we know a few days earlier, in Amarillo Texas, we had dinner at one of RT 66’s most famous steak houses.
Route 66 | The Mother Road
Route 66 originally ran between Chicago Illinois and Santa Monica California. It connected the great Midwest with the Pacific West Coast. This during a time when Americans were falling in love with the automobile.
In 1999 Congress passed the RT 66 Corridor Preservation Program to be run by the National Park Service. You can visit the National Parks RT 66 website to learn more about the Mother Road.
Some of the interesting roadside attractions of our travel were just stumbled upon during our travels. We also look for different attractions when planning our trips. We often use the website Roadside America to look for weird and interesting things to see to keep our travels interesting.
Continue reading to learn about some of the unique roadside attractions we have stopped at during our travels.
The Worlds Largest Pistachio | Alamogordo New Mexico
We have all heard stories about the world’s largest ball of twine, or the world’s largest rubber band ball, but what about the world’s largest pistachio? Well if you are ever passing through Alamogordo, New Mexico you should stop and see this roadside attraction.
After leaving Big Bend National Park we headed up to New Mexico to visit the White Sands National Park. While driving to White Sands NP from the Alamogordo / White Sands KOA we noticed multiple billboards advertising the world’s largest pistachio. How could we possibly resist?
The world’s largest pistachio is located at the McGinns Pistachioland on US-54 in Alamogordo. It sits in the parking lot of Pistachioland and stands 30 feet high. According to their website, the large pistachio is a tribute to Pistachiolands founder Thomas McGinn. After his passing his family wanted to build a tribute showing everyone that passed by the pistachio farm what their father had built. There is a bronze plaque at the foot of the pistachio that reads “Tom dreamed big, expected big and accomplished big things. He would have said the monument is not big enough!”
In 1980 Thomas McGinn created a 111-acre pistachio farm. His pistachio farm was built from the bare New Mexico desert of New Mexico. When visiting McGinns Pistachioland you can go on a tour of the farm on a motorized trolly, and visit McGinn’s country store.
The country store sells anything, and everything pistachio-related. There are free samples of a large variety of different pistachio flavors. The one thing we certainly recommend is their pistachio ice cream. All of us loved their ice cream, and argue it is some of the best ice creams we have ever had.
The Georgia Guidestones | Elbert County Georgia
In Elbert County, Georgia sits the Georgia Guidestones. Conspiracy theories and secrecy surround this roadside attraction. We had heard of this site from a co-worker and detoured to see it on our way to New Orleans.
This granite monument was erected in 1980. A set of 10 different guidelines for the world are inscribed in eight different, modern languages. Along the top, a shorter message is inscribed in four ancient languages.
Included in the monument are different astronomical features. A hole drilled through the center column reveals the north star. The sun’s equinoxes will also align with a slot carved out of the centerpiece. . In the same column, a small hole allows the sun rays to shine a beam onto the center column indicating the day of the year.
Who paid for them, and why is the biggest question? There is a slab of granite that explains the purpose of the stones. This slab of granite explains the astronomical features and the specs of the main stones. In addition, the slab mentions the name R.C Christian as the Author. Many believe this to be a pseudonym. There are many theories regarding these stones. However, many believe they are a guide to humanity following an apocalyptic event.
The Georgia Guidestones are located at 1032 Guidestone Rd, Elberton, GA. The stones sit on a small hill in the middle of farmland, with little to nothing surrounding them. They are certainly something you have to plan to find. It is doubtful you will stumble across them while traveling. This is certainly one of the most unique roadside attractions we have visited.
Buried Cadillacs and a 72 oz. Steak Dinner | Amarillo Texas
Interstate 40 runs through the panhandle of Texas parallel to the original RT 66. When driving through Amarillo along I40 there are two famous roadside attractions. One is easily missed if you are not paying attention and the other has a distinct sign that cannot be missed.
If you are driving along I40, and not looking for this site it is easily missed. Cadillac Ranch sits in a cow pasture off of I40 west of Amarillo. To get to the cow pasture you have to take the frontage road off of I40 and park along the side of the road. From here you walk through an unlocked gate and walk right up to the Cadillacs.
Ironicincaly enough there is a sign when you first enter the site that reads “Painting of Anything on this Side of the Fence is Illegal”. Well, we suggest if you do visit Cadillac Ranch bring a few cans of spray paint. Painting the Cadillacs is encouraged. Each of them is covered in layers of spray paint. Our kids thought this was great to be able to paint the cars and leave their mark.
As you can see from our photo if it has rained recently you may need a new pair of shoes. The day we visited the field was flooded with rainwater and everything got covered in mud. Of course, this didn’t stop us. Not to worry there is a Wal-Mary close by if needed!
The Big Texan Steak Ranch
If you are looking for an amazing steak dinner before or after spray painting Cadillacs there is no better place than the Big Texan Steak Ranch right off I40 in Amarillo. The Big Texan was originally located on the original RT 66. In the 1907s it was moved to its current location.
If you are looking for a challenge the Big Texan is known for its 72oz steak dinner challenge. The meal is free for anyone who is able to complete the meal within 1 hour. We did not participate in this challenge. If you do decide to take the challenge you are seated at a table, on a stage in the center of the restaurant. There is a digital clock above you, and everyone inside can see you and root you on.
When traveling in an RV you can stay at the Big Texas RV park. The park provides free limo transportation from your site to the restaurant. You can see the nose of our limo in a photo of us outside the restaurant. Of course driving in a limo, with longhorns on the hood, is a great experience.
If you are traveling through the south along I40, and go through Amarillo we strongly suggest stopping at both these sites. They are both very unique and will help create some great memories.
A Lonely Prada | Marfa Texas
This roadside attraction is certainly not an easy one to come across. We stumbled upon it as we drove through the Texas desert between Big Bend National Park and New Mexico. The Prada of Marfa Texas is located in the middle of the Texan desert, with nothing around it for miles. We had to turn around to get a better look when we drove by it because we thought our eyes had deceived us.
Prada of Marfa of Texas is located right along the side of US Highway 90 about 30 miles north of Mafa Texas. The roadside attraction is considered sculpture art by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. The artist claims the sculpture is built of biodegradable material and will slowly melt into the earth as a commentary on materialism.
If you ever find yourself along US 90 in Texas keep your eyes open for this interesting piece of art. If you go through Valentine, Texas you are in the right area. Of course, Valentine Texas is a small town with a population of little over 100 and is easily missed also.
Dignity of Earth and Sky Statue | Chamberlain South Dakota
The Dignity of Earth and Sky Statue is located off I90 in South Dakota between 263 and 265. We just happened upon this roadside attraction traveling to the Badlands National Park. We had decided to stop at the next rest stop we found to make some lunch, and stumbled upon this awesome rest stop.
This amazing statue towers over its visitors at 50 feet. It stands over the banks of the Missouri river with her arms outstretched holding a quilt. The quilt is designed to sparkle in the sunlight and is an amazing view.
If ever traveling I90 through South Dakota this rest area is definitely worthy of stopping at.
The 2017 Total Eclipse | North Platte Nebraska
This last roadside attraction was a once-in-a-lifetime event. However, it is not something you can just pull over to visit like the other attractions.
During the summer of 2017, we went out on our first cross-country trip. We traveled out to the Grand Canyon, and back. Little did we know when planning our trip we would traveling through North Platte Nebraska on August 21st. This was the same day as the 2017 total solar eclipse. Not only was it the same day but North Platte Nebraska was right in the band of totality. The eclipse was expected to slowly start around 11:30 am, and the loss of the sun around 12:50.
On the morning of August 21st, 2017 we found a Wal-Mart parking lot in North Platte Nebraska and decided to view the eclipse from here. We were not alone! There was a handful of RVs and over the road semi-trucks set up to watch the eclipse.
To sit in a Walmart parking lot, 1,700 miles away from home, and witness a full solar eclipse is something we will never forget. In the middle of the afternoon of that August day, the sun disappeared for almost two minutes. The night sky came out, the street lights came on, and everyone cheered.
There are so many unique attractions along the American roadways. This is what makes traveling over the road so special. You never know what kind of odd, or interesting sites you will witness as you go across the roadways. We suggest everyone get out, hit the American roadways, and keep their eyes open. You never know when you will pull over and create a great memory.