While you have probably heard of the Empire State Building and the Washington Monument, you may not know about Lucy the Elephant or Dog Bark Park Inn. Across America, hundreds of odd tourist destinations and roadside attractions greet visitors traveling from all over the country and the world. From the bizarre to the beautiful to the just plain big, these sites are quintessentially American. For anyone planning a road trip, or if you’re just looking to learn more about U.S. culture, these 10 American oddities will not disappoint!
1. Crazy Horse Memorial – The Crazy Horse Memorial in Crazy Horse, South Dakota is the world’s largest mountain carving.
Crazy Horse was a Lakota chief who led the Native American resistance against U.S. encroachments on their lands during the Great Sioux War of 1876. Construction on the memorial began in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowskie and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. Although still in progress today, when finished, this mountain carving will be 641 feet long by 563 feet high. For visitor information about the Crazy Horse memorial, click here.
2. Albert the Bull – Located in Audubon, Iowa, Albert is the world’s largest bull. Constructed in 1967, he stands 30 feet tall and 33 feet long. If you find yourself cruising down Highway 71 in Iowa, stop by and pay Albert a visit.
3. Lucy the Elephant – Lucy the Elephant was constructed in 1882 along the beach in Margate, New Jersey.
She was the brainchild of James V. Lafferty, Jr. and was designed by Philadelphia architect William Free. She stands six stories high and can be seen from 8 miles away. Lucy is the oldest example of zoomorphic architecture, and became a National Historic Landmark in 1976. To read more about her long history guarding the New Jersey shoreline, click here.
4. The Corn Palace – As a celebration of the harvest, the first Corn Palace was built in 1892 as part of “The Corn Belt Exposition.”
Early settlers brought their crops to the palace and placed them on the building’s exterior to display the “fertility of South Dakota soil.” Each year, a new mural is constructed on the Corn Palace’s façade with over 250,000 ears of corn. The Corn Palace is open year round, and is free for visitors. It is also available for private and commercial party rentals! For more information, please visit: http://www.cornpalace.org/index.php
5. Jolly Green Giant Statue – In the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota stands a 55-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant.
This mascot of the Green Giant Company was introduced to U.S. culture in 1928 and has been an icon ever since. This colossal statue was built in 1977 by local radio owner Paul Hedberg, and is complete with a pedestal where tourists can take pictures standing beneath the Jolly Green Giant.
6. World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Perhaps the most iconic and contentious of American roadside attractions, there are actually two separate Largest Balls of Twine! The first is the World’s Largest Ball of Twine Rolled by One Man, in Darwin, Minnesota. Francis A. Johnson, the man behind the ball, started rolling a ball of twine in his basement in 1950. When he finished in 1979, the ball weighed a whopping 9 tons and was 12 feet wide. The second contender for this title is the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas. This ball has been continually growing thanks to the town’s annual Twine-A-Thon, where every member of the community gets a chance to add to the ball. Today, this ball of twine weighs 5 tons and is 40 feet in circumference, and counting.
7. World’s Largest Baseball Bat – Is there anything more American than baseball?
How about a giant baseball bat?
Leaning against the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky rests the World’s Largest Baseball Bat. Standing 120 feet tall and weighing 68,000 pounds, this bat is an exact-scale replica of Babe Ruth’s 34-inch Louisville Slugger.
8. Graceland – After baseball, it’s hard to get more American than Elvis. This late performer has become a true American legend, making Graceland a near-religious destination for his fans. Presley’s iconic home from 1957 until his death in 1977 is located just outside Memphis, Tennessee. In 2006 Graceland was named a National Historic Landmark and hosts more than 600,000 tourists every year. If you’re an Elvis fan, it’s definitely worth a trip. For more information on planning your visit, click here.
9. Dog Bark Park Inn – Not your average hotel, Dog Bark Park Inn is a Bed & Breakfast inside the World’s Largest Beagle, Sweet Willy.
His smaller friend, Toby, is a 12-ft beagle statue built by Dog Bark’s resident artists, Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. You don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy this American oddity! If you’re planning a trip to Cottonwood, Idaho in the future, check it out: http://www.dogbarkparkinn.com/
10. Unclaimed Baggage Center – While we hope no one lost their bags on their flight to the U.S., if you did, there may be hope yet! Since 1970, the Unclaimed Baggage center in Scottsboro, Alabama has been taking all the lost and unclaimed bags from airlines and transportation companies and placing the contents up for sale. This 40,000 square foot superstore is the size of one city block and attracts shoppers from all over the world. Whether you’re searching for lost treasure or looking for new, “You never know what you’ll find!”