America is an odd and unique place. And if you’re traveling across the country, you’ll need time to get out and stretch your legs for longer than the time it takes to fill up the gas tank. Why not check out some of these crazy and strange roadside gems? These are places that you don’t have to spend hours at to see all each place offers. A quick photo with the Superman Statue or a short mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs down in Florida is all it takes to catch a glimpse of true Americana.
Below are a few other places that we think are worth pulling over for. Check them out and let us know what you think!
The Witch House of Salem- Salem, Massachusetts
With Halloween just a few months away, this roadside attraction might be the ticket to getting you ready for the spooky holiday! The Witch House was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who was the judge in the Salem Witch Trials. It’s the only building still standing that has direct ties to the trial from 1692. Corwin is buried in the nearby Broad Street Cemetery but purchased the home in 1675 when he was just 24 years old. In 1944, the destruction of the building was threatened and caused the new wave of restoration in Salem. A group of citizens raised the $42,500 it needed to keep the building up to par. It opened as a museum in 1948.
Now, the Witch House tours tie information about 17th century lifestyles with insights to the trials in 1692. Visitors get a deeper understanding of the lives involved in the trails through the material culture of the period. Tickets range from $8-10. So cheap for a place so rich in history!
Superman Statue at Massac County Courthouse- Metropolis, Illinois
This massive 15-foot-high painted bronze statue of the super hero stands in front of the county’s courthouse in Metropolis, which is also the name of his fictional home. The town of Metropolis celebrates the superhero in anyway possible, actually. The newspaper calls their edition The Planet. And signs in local grocery stores acknowledge Superman as the image for truth, justice, and the American Way.
In 1972, there was a museum dedicated to the hero, but it only lasted about a year. Then in 1993, they replaced a cheap plywood Superman with a 12-foot-tall, two-ton bronze statue, which is what we see today. The people of the town came together and donated $120,000 for the statue, which is quite a bit, considering the town consisted of about 7,200 people.
Just across the street from the huge bronze man is the Super Museum, which displays the life works of Superman obsessed Jim Hambrick. Some things to see here are the Power Crystal from the 1979 movie and George Reeves’ belt.
Santa’s Workshop- North Pole, New York
If Christmas is your favorite holiday, you’re in luck! You can celebrate the holiday six months out of the year at Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, New York (yes, really). The village first welcomed visitors in July 1949, way before the term “theme park” was ever a thing. Soon after its opening, visitors began to flock to the new North Pole. It had an opening day crowd of 212, but attendance grew quickly until the one day record of over 14,000, which was recorded on September 2, 1951. It continues to delight kids and their families with its several live events like a rag doll romp and even a Santa Claus parade. If you go, you also can’t forget to visit Tannenbaum the Talking Tree, the Candy Cane Express and the Peppermint Swing.
Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold- Moundsville, West Virginia
It’s worth wondering why such a random gold palace is standing in the middle of the Appalachian hills and valleys of Moundsville, but we’re here to explain it for you! (And to give you all the reasons to check it out.) West Virginia is where Srila Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, decided to erect his home. Eventually, it became the New Vrindaban community and also a meeting place for his followers. Open to the public since 1979, this massively stunning authentic looking Indian kingdom is host to tons of year-round festivals, spiritual festivals, and events and the design of the palace is just the jewel in the crown!
Paradise Garden- Summerville, Georgia
Though visionary artist, Howard Finster, died in 2001, his numerous works live on at his folk art sculpture garden in Summerville, Georgia. It may not seem like anything special, but what’s amazing is that more than 46,000 pieces of art are on display! 46,000 pieces of art! The minister-turned-painter decided to change his focus when a ~voice~ told him to “paint sacred art.” So, Paradise Garden, once known at the Plant Farm Museum, was transformed into a mystical wonderland where fantasies, modern-looking landscapes and popular culture icons like Elvis Presley come together in mind-winding works of art.
Colorado Gators Reptile Park- Mosca, Colorado
So you probably don’t think you’d want to stop at a gator attraction on the way to your main destination, but hear us out! Out in Colorado, which is also probably not the state that comes to mind when you think of gator survival, the owners of the Colorado Gators Reptile Park raised tilapia on their 80 acre farm. But after adding 100 baby gators in 1987 to help take care of dead fish, their ideas completely changed. The babes grew up and quickly became an official tourist attraction in 1990. Since then, the gator population has grown, but what’s admirable about the park is that they also take in any unwanted or abandoned exotic pets, like pythons, tortoises and iguanas.
If you’ve got some extra time after your gator visit, you might want to check out the UFO Watchtower in nearby Hooper, Colorado.
Weeki Wachee Springs- Spring Hill, Florida
Don’t let anyone tell you mermaids aren’t real! If you happen to be a nonbeliever or you run into one, just head down to the awesome Florida Institution which has been pleasing the public with their underwater theater and mermaid show since October 1947. A former U.S. Navy man who trained Navy Frogmen to swim underwater during World War ll found Weeki Wachee as a good place for new business. He eventually created a method of breathing underwater using a free-flowing air hose that supplied oxygen from an air compressor and not a tank attached to one’s back. He taught his newly recruited girls this method and he had mermaids!
Named by Seminole Indians for the bottomless waters that run through the Gulf Coast water park, Weeki Wachee Springs is definitely still the best place to see live mermaids, but you can also check out the flume rides at Buccaneer Bay, take a dip in the Caribbean Cove, ride on a river cruise or hang out with some of the local reptiles.