On a cross-country trek through the northern states of the USA, we saw a range of unforgettable sights in some impressive locations. On our journey from place to place we were lucky enough to stumble across some of the more quirky attractions of the states we sped through. After hours of cramped van driving these fun areas of interest gave us a chance to explore whilst stretching our legs. For me this gave a hidden bonus element to the journey. Each State had something very different to offer and every location told us something about the history and culture of the area. It is this that makes a USA road trip so life-changing, you see so much. I wanted to share some of the lesser known attractions that have stuck in my memory from the trip through 24 of America’s states.
We start with the fantastical place that is Wall Drug Store. This extraordinary set of buildings started in 1931 as a normal store. Today the store is crammed full of unusual exhibits for you to look around and get involved in, while you shop your heart out. In the short time we spent here we sat in a saloon bar, snuck up on a T-Rex, had our fortunes told by Zoltar (that’s right, a machine like the one in the 80’s movie, Big), gazed at Indian Tribal photo originals, took a ride on a Jackalope and snapped each other in jail. This is but a few of the menagerie you will find. Did I also mention that this place is free to visit?
The Jolly Green Giant is one of those all-american icons we all know. Recognised around the world as the ambassador of Green Giant sweetcorn since 1925, the Jolly Green Giant got his name in ode to a large variety of pea. In my world growing up, this happy chappy was something that appeared on tins and the occasional TV advert, so imagine my surprise as we pulled into a Minnesota parking lot to see a green smiling head above the trees in the park ahead.
The Corn Palace is an additional attraction in Minnesota, located in the town of Mitchell. This unusual museum serves as both an educational centre and community venue and is full of corn-related exhibits and art. The designs on the outside of the palace are decorated with corn and grain murals, replaced each year with a new theme.
The life-size museum of Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming is the outcome of one man’s lifetime collection of all things relating to the Wild West. As the site established itself, other donated items big and small began to appear and this along with the dedication of the staff here create a unique environment for us all to enjoy. Pay only a few dollars to explore the houses, shops, saloon bar and the site’s very own cowboy graveyard at your leisure. The staff are so friendly and have some great stories from their years of work. Ask them what their favourite part of the town is….
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo is an original art installation constructed in 1974 to represent the evolution of the Cadillac car line. Today the collection of half-buried automobiles are a must-see for anyone passing through Texas. Take your Walmart spray paint and have fun making your mark on one of the 10 beauties at this colourful site.
Russell’s Route 66 Cafe located in Glen Rio, New Mexico is a museum and American diner collaboration. This welcoming travel center gives you a real taste of some authentic American classics and the food is pretty awesome too. Here you’ll find cab drive Yoda, Marilyn Monroe montages and a coca-cola collection. The display of cars are equally impressive. I only wish I’d had time to see more!
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture garden in Washington DC is an evolving park giving artists the opportunity to showcase some stunning collection pieces to a public audience. Located on the National Mall, this outside space is for a more leisurely stroll away from the bustle of the city.
So there you have it. These are just a taste of many, many visitor locations throughout the USA. No matter what you are into, I guarantee that there is something out there for you. So keep your peepers open and stop by at those roadside destinations!