Nye County, Nevada
Located near the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada, the Goldwell Open Air Museum is home to sculptures like a 24-foot high steel prospector accompanied by a penguin, a life-size interpretation of the Last Supper painting and a carved woman with wings reaching for the sun. Covering 15 acres, it is the perfect spot to pull over and stretch your legs during a long car ride.
Cawker City, Kansas
In 1953, Frank Stoeber began winding a ball of twine. Today, it’s the world’s largest ball of twine, and weighs over 20,000 pounds. It’s eight feet high, so even if you consider yourself a relatively tall person, this ball of twine has you beat. It’s located in Cawker City, Kansas. The best part isn’t only looking at the ball of twine, but taking advantage of the opportunity to add your own twine to it. Who else can say they contributed to the world’s largest ball of twine?
Under construction for nearly 60 years, Bishop Castle in Rye, Colorado, is a sight to behold. What started as a small, one-room cabin has since morphed into a work of art entirely built by one man, Jim Bishop. With no final vision, Bishop creates the structure as he goes, and somehow all the elements seem to fall perfectly into place. Towering 160 feet tall, the castle features a 30-foot steel steeple and three full stories of interior rooms, including a grand ballroom. There are also bridges and lookout points that offer views for miles on end. However, the main focal point of the masterpiece is the fire-breathing dragon.
The castle is open 24/7 and is free to enter.
Beached on the shoreline of a small pond where gators once roamed is now an 80-foot long blue whale, constructed out of steel rods, plaster and concrete. Though it was an anniversary gift to his wife, Hugh Davis only intended the whale to be used by his grandchildren, replacing fins with waterslides and adding a diving platform to the tail. Eventually, the attraction was opened to the public for swimming and picnicking but was later closed as Davis and his wife were no longer able to keep up with it.
Today, the attraction has been restored thanks to the local community and dedicated volunteers. Although no swimming is allowed, that doesn’t stop visitors (including Sir Paul McCartney) from stopping by to have a whale of a time.
While England may have the original Stonehenge, Nebraska is home to Carhenge, a scale replica of the famous ancient structure. However, unlike other replicas that can be found across the country, the one found in Alliance, Nebraska, sets itself apart with nearly 40 gray, spray-painted vintage cars that make up a 96-foot diameter circle. Created by Jim Reinder in the late 1980s as a memorial to his father, Carhenge was not originally intended to serve as a pit stop for so many travelers. Although it’s a bit off the main road, Carhenge and the adjacent car-art sculpture park are well worth the detour.
Bryson City, North Carolina
If you happen to find yourself in the Great Smoky Mountains on your American road trip, then make sure you stop by the Road to Nowhere. It might be hard to imagine you’ll have a day with nowhere to go, but we promise you the views are worth it. In the 1940s, the government started building a tunnel, but construction came to a standstill when they experienced environmental issues. Now, this six-mile road ends at a tunnel and leads to a variety of footpaths and trails into the mountains. The road also provides fantastic views of Fontana Lake.
No, you’re not seeing things. Those are two giant beagles (the biggest in the world) on the side of the road. They aren’t lost, though — Toby and Sweet Willy belong to the Dog Bark Park Inn, which doubles as a roadside attraction and a bed and breakfast. Sweet Willy (the larger of the two pups) features two sleeping spaces, a full bath, Wi-Fi and AC. Guests are treated to a self-serve breakfast of yogurt, cheese, fresh fruit, homemade pastries and more.
Created and owned by Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin, the mom-and-pop operation has a charm you won’t find anywhere else. Visitors who aren’t lucky enough to stay in the doghouse are still welcome to walk the grounds and check out the gift shop where the couple sell their smaller chainsaw sculptures, including 60 dog breeds and poses. Of course, canines are welcome to stop by, too.