One of my favorite quotes is, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” And I apply this to my travels too! That’s why I love piling into our car (instead of boarding a plane) and heading off down the open road toward our destination. Half the fun of our vacations happen before we even get to where we’re going. In addition to the fun road trip games and interesting conversations that happen when we’re trapped in a car for hours on end, we see the unique attractions and sites that are littered across our country. Sometimes interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes downright freaky, they make our world a fascinating, eclectic place to call home. The next time you pack up the car, give your travels a boost with these unusual bucket list ideas to check off on your next road trip.
The Fountain of Youth | Lewes, DE
There really is a Fountain of Youth! Or is there? If you travel to Lewes, Delaware, you’ll find one, but is it real or just folklore? That depends on who you ask. When you travel to this east coast town you’ll get a glimpse of a small gazebo that marks where a fountain was discovered by the area’s Dutch community. Legend has it that large boats filled with suspiciously young-looking, rich Dutch people would land at the nearby private docks to visit the fountain. Today the fountain is bone dry and the conch shell that used to carry water up from the hole is missing. But this mysterious attraction is still worth a visit, just don’t expect a miracle!
The Moon-Eyed People | Murphy, NC
If you find aliens and extraterrestrial stories fascinating, take a detour to the Cherokee County Historical Museum in Murphy, NC, where you can get a glimpse of soapstone statues that have an uncanny resemblance to aliens. Dating back many centuries, the origin of these Siamese twin-like creatures is unknown, but they were found during the 1840s when land was being cleared in Murphy. They’ve only gone on public display within the last year or two, and everyone has their own theory of what they are. Featuring dished-in faces, no arms, and eyes too big for their heads, these 3’-tall creatures have been called aliens, Moon-Eyed People, The Little People who shed tears that turn to cross-shaped stones (actually found on the ground and now on display), Melungeons, who are Welsh descendants, and more. Stop over at this interesting museum and decide for yourself if they’re from out of this world.
Giant Lady’s Leg Sundial | Roselawn, IN
If you’re ever passing through Roselawn in northwest Indiana and don’t know what time it is, you’re in luck! There just happens to be a 63’-long sundial that you can’t miss because, well, it’s shaped like a lady’s bare leg! Located in front of a “clothing optional” camp (aka nudist resort), this spectacle is definitely a “brake-slammer,” and you don’t have to be nude to view it! If you do, however, choose to do as the Romans do and bare it all, just be sure you put your clothes back on before you head down the road to your next unusual bucket list stop.
World’s Largest Free-Standing Hockey Stick—Eveleth, MN
If you’re a hockey fan, listen up! The world’s largest free-standing hockey stick is not located in British Columbia, it’s right here in the USA in Minnesota! Once thought to be the home of the world’s largest free-standing hockey stick, British Columbia simply had a wooden sculpture bolted to the side of a building. That didn’t count! “Hockeytown USA” is host to a 110’-long, 4-ton hockey stick that is ready to slapshot the 700 lb. puck in front of it. Head north to Minnesota to check this one off your list!
Cadillac Ranch | Amarillo, TX
In Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX, you’ll see Cadillacs that have been driven into the ground—literally! Created to baffle locals and tourists alike, Cadillac Ranch was an idea that billionaire Stanley Marsh III came up with and executed with the help of a group of art hippies from San Francisco. The display of 10 Cadillacs pays tribute to the Caddie tailfin by proudly displaying them in a bottoms-up type of salute. In 1974, ten mid-century Cadillacs were driven out to the flat, desert-like land owned by Marsh, buried in a west-facing line with the nose in the sand and the tail proudly displayed in the air (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). There they sat for all to see … and eventually deface with spray paint and urine. Over the years the cars have taken on a graffitied appearance and become victim to looters and thieves. The intact cars were easy targets sitting exposed on the vast Texas panhandle. Their frames have been stripped to bare bones and “marked” in bright, painted-on colors. While this probably isn’t what the billionaire envisioned, it’s become a hot tourist spot where people are always welcome to view (and add their personal touch to) the display of Caddie tails. Signs warn against the use of graffiti, but even those have become targets for spray paint can-wielding visitors.
Bonnie and Clyde Death Car | Primm, NV
Venture into the sociopathic minds of one of the most famous murderous duos by making a stop at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, NV, to see the Bonnie & Clyde Death Car. While there are several fake ones on display around the country, this is the real deal. Set behind glass and featuring authentic artifacts to prove that it’s the one, such as Clyde’s shredded, blood-stained shirt signed by his sister, gawkers can look but not touch. Before arriving at its home on a plush piece of carpet in the casino, the car was an attraction at carnivals, flea markets, amusement parks, racetracks, and state fairs for over 30 years. People could pay $1 to sit on the very seats where the law-breaking lovebirds cruised the country while robbing and killing innocent people. Their crime spree came to an end when a posse of Texas and Louisiana lawmen came upon them “helping” a stranded motorist and unloaded over 150 rounds of bullets into their stolen V8 Ford and them. No longer would these crazy Texas lovers rob, beat, or kill unsuspecting victims in the name of adventure. While touring the country, the official Bonnie & Clyde Death Car raised an unknown amount of money, but today it is free for all to view.
Official Center of the World | Felicity, CA
If you want to feel like you’re in the center of everything, then head to the Official Center of the World in Felicity, CA. Located west of the border between Arizona and southern California, you’ll find a small town that is home to Jacques-Andre Istel and his dream of turning barren land into the center of the world. Using money from his profitable parachuting schools, the former Marine of the Korean War bought land that he saw during the war and had big plans for it. The thousands of acres of land that stretches from I-8 northward to the Chocolate Mountains deserved to house something entertaining, he thought, so in the 1980s he began hatching his dream of creating the center of the world! To convince Imperial County to officially recognize a spot on his land as the Official Center of the World, he got creative—literally! He wrote a children’s book about it! Then he named the town after his wife, Felicia Lee. And since every town needs a mayor, an election was held where he won with a unanimous vote of 3-0. Included in this vote was a nod from the invisible dragon in Istel’s children’s book. Seriously. I can't make this stuff up.
Now that his land was home to the Official Center of the World, the exact spot needed to be marked. So he built a 21’-tall, mirror-lined, pink granite pyramid over a bronze disk that has a dot on it. When you visit the Center of the World, you are instructed to place your toe on the dot while a town official records the exact second you touch the Center of the World on a certificate and you are asked to make a wish. It’s very official, yet slightly whimsical, business in Felicity! While in Felicity, take time to see Istel’s other landmarks, including a spiral staircase from the Eiffel Tower, the stark-white, windowless Church on the Hill that he built on 150,000 tons of earth, his World Commemorative Center on which he’s inscribing everything he wants to tell future generations, and more.
While not geographically the center of the world, you’ll definitely feel in the center of Jacques-Andre Istel’s world when you stop over in this eclectic southern California town.
Have you come across an unusual attraction on a road trip? Tell us about it in the comments!