Looking for some crazy roadside attractions to visit on your RV trip this summer? One thing is for sure, no matter where you are traveling, there is a bizarre roadside attraction on your route! Here is our list of the top five craziest attractions in the US!
5. Blue Whale of Catoosa
Built by Hugh Davis in the ‘70’s, this massive whale, located off Route 66 in Oklahoma, was originally an anniversary gift to his wife who collected whale figurines. Over the years, the Davis family realized the whale’s apparent draw of travelers and turned the pond into a full attraction. Davis added an animal and reptile exhibit, Animal Reptile Kingdom (known as ARK), picnic areas and water slides. However, after some time, the family closed the attraction due to their inability to continue managing it. Years later, a movement was launched by locals to refurbish and reopen the attraction.
Now owned and operated by Hugh Davis’ daughter the whale attraction is back open to the public. Travelers and locals alike can pack a picnic to enjoy the crazy sight and go fishing! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even explore the inside of the whale! We suggest you search for the ladder that leads to the secret compartment in the whale’s head. The ARK is now overgrown with no plans of being restored, and adds a creepy, historic feel to this site.
4. Lucy the Elephant
If you are on a road trip up the East coast, Lucy is a must-see! This 65-foot, 6 story elephant replica stands on the beaches near Atlantic City, New Jersey. Originally built by James Lafferty, a real estate agent, the elephant was built to promote sales of land on the beach. Lafferty patented the began construction in 1881 that cost between $25,000-$38,000 and required almost one million pieces of wood. After completion, Lafferty took his clients to the carriage on top of the elephant to show them the properties he was selling because they were difficult to reach. Throughout the years, she has served as not only a real estate office but also as a tavern and summer home.
Now, as the oldest surviving roadside attraction in America, Lucy serves as National Historic Landmark on the coast and draws over 130,000 visitors each year. Travelers can visit the sight and for a small admission fee, can also tour the inside of the elephant. At almost 136 years old, Lucy has survived hurricanes and also announced her candidacy for President of the United States. This is a unique site to visit if you’re looking for a bizarre structure that has a lot of history embedded into it!
3. Corn Palace
The Corn Palace was originally erected in 1892 in Mitchell, South Dakota to showcase the agriculture of the town (specifically corn) and attract settlers to South Dakota. Once a part of a ring of “grain palaces,” the Mitchell Corn Palace is the only remaining crop shrine. The palace is built out of reinforced concrete and was built to model the Moorish Revival and Russian buildings. Designed by Oscar Howe, this unique building attracts anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000 travelers and tourists from all over the world per year.
The palace is redecorated every year under a new theme ranging from South Dakota history to current social change movements. They use approximately 275,000 ears in an assortment of 12 natural colored cultivated corn cobs to decorate the palace with murals each year. Corn Palace week takes place in spring every year at the of the harvest. The city of Mitchell has only missed redecoration once due to a severe drought in 2006. It is open to the public and offers free tours and historical videos inside. It is also used as an arena to hold events. Outside visitors can snap a picture with Cornelius, the Corn Palace Mascot!
2. World’s Largest Santa
Who doesn’t love Christmas in July? This summer, include the North Pole on your travel list. North Pole, Alaska that is. The year-round holiday cheer in this town is a perfect home for the world’s largest Santa Claus located on none other than St. Nicholas Drive. The town prides itself on the endless letter to Santa they receive each year. The Santa Claus House is also located here where you can find personalized letters from Santa, Christmas decorations and souvenirs, and a life-size nativity scene. You can even buy the deed to one square inch of land in North Pole.
This Santa statue was originally built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. Father Christmas was then used in a traveling promotion until he was purchased by Con Miller, the founder of the Santa House, for $4,500. After being broken into 4 pieces to accommodate the lengthy journey, he finally found a permanent home in North Pole in 1983. The statue is open for pictures year-round, but we recommend skipping on sitting in his lap considering this massive Santa is 42 feet tall and weighs in around 900 pounds. To repaint him, it would require 10 gallons of red paint, five gallons of white paint, and three gallons of black paint. Of course, you can’t have Santa without his reindeer. Four reindeer live in a pen just outside the Santa Claus House.
1. Cano’s Castle
Our craziest roadside attraction is Cano’s Castle in Antonito, Colorado. Built by Mr. Cano, structure is made entirely of scrap aluminum. In the middle of a seemingly normal neighborhood, this complex form of architecture includes 5 separate buildings that stand tall and include a house, garage, shed, and two towers. Made out of everything from beer cans to hubcaps to grills, this roadside attraction reflects the sun in the day.
However, the crazy part about this attraction, isn’t necessarily the looks of it, it’s more so the atmosphere created by the owner. Dominic “Cano” Espinosa hand built this masterpiece, yet has not disclosed the original purpose it served and will not acknowledge that the building was his work. He claims that God built the castle and Jesus lives inside it. Residing in a neighboring sweat lodge made of mud, Cano asks visitors to pay a fee for him to decide if God wants him to speak to them. He is obsessed with doomsday theories and is a believer that everyone who visits the house and pays to speak to him has a better opportunity of getting on God’s good side.
To find campgrounds near these attractions, search through our RVUSA campgrounds! RVUSA is dedicated to connecting you with anything and everything RV! Check back every Monday for the Find of the Week, Wednesday for Dealer Spotlight, Throwback Thursday and Friday for Tips and Tricks. If you have any thoughts, memories or comments, leave us a message below! If you’d like to receive our daily blog posts directly in your inbox, click here to join our free email list.