1. Desert of Maine, Freeport, Maine
Maine is more associated with the sea than anything else, so the last thing you’d expect to find there is a desert. The area around the town of Freeport was badly farmed following the year 1797, which led to soil erosion and desertification. This miniature desert covers 50 acres, and can be explored with a 30-minute coach tour.
2. Benewah Milk Bottles, Spokane, Washington
The Benewah Dairy Company was once a booming enterprise, however all that’s left of it now are two giant milk bottle-shaped buildings. One of them is home to Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, a café famous for its milkshakes, and another lies just off the freeway. The buildings were originally constructed in the 1930s in the hope that their uniqueness would draw more customers in.
3. General Sherman Tree, Sequoia National park, California
This tree is the world’s largest by volume, standing some 275 feet high and measuring in at a staggering 52,000 cubic feet. It lies in Sequoia National Park, which is known around the world for its vast expanses of wilderness without a road in sight. The tree itself is named after American Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman.
4. London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona
London Bridge really did start falling down by the mid-1950s, so it was auctioned off, dismantled, shipped across the Atlantic and reassembled in Lake Havasu City. The bridge, originally built in 1831, is often called the world’s largest antique – it’s a 950-foot-long piece of history that you can drive over with your car!
5. World's Smallest Church, near Syracuse, New York
The world’s smallest church is built on top of a dock in the middle of a pond near Syracuse. The nondenominational church is only three feet by six feet, but can seat two people and also accommodate the presiding minister. A wedding in 1990s saw attendees view proceedings from boats tied to the dock.
6. Beer Can House, Houston, Texas
Houston’s South Pacific Road is the location for a rather unusual home – it’s covered in roughly 50,000 beer cans that took more than 18 years to put in place. Its owner, John Milkovisch, had the novel idea back in 1968. He cites not having to paint the house’s exterior as one of the benefits of having it covered in beer cans.
7. The Spud Drive-In Theater, Driggs, Idaho
In contrast to 50 or 60 years ago, drive-in movie theaters are thin on the ground in the present-day United States. The Spud is one of the few exceptions, having continuously shown movies since 1953. If you wonder where the theater gets its name, there’s a ’46 Chevy truck with a two-ton potato on the back. It obviously isn’t a real potato, but that doesn’t deter tourists from stopping for a picture.
8. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
This famous art installation, consisting of 10 classic cars half-buried nose first, was first put up in 1974. This tribute to the American dream was only meant to be a temporary display, however it went on to become an iconic tourist attraction. The cars were relocated two miles west in 1997 to escape increasing urban sprawl.
9. South of the Border, Dillon, South Carolina
People come to the South of the Border rest stop to see Pedro, a 97-foot-tall moustachioed Mexican man wearing a sombrero. He’s the rest stop’s mascot, and has been welcoming guests since the 1950s. The modern South of the Border complex is spread over 135 acres and includes an amusement park and 200-foot-high “Sombrero Tower”.
10. The World's Largest Ball of Twine, Cawker City, Kansas
This odd creation started life as a farmer’s exercise in thriftiness, however it has been a community project in Cawker City ever since 1953. The annual “twine-a-thon” sees the ball of twine grow each year. At last measurement, its equivalent length was estimated at 7.8 million feet. It currently measures 40 feet in circumference.
11. Shoe Tree, Middlegate, Nevada
It’s probably no coincidence that this tree lies along the “loneliest road in America” – it seems to provide the social interaction that people crave. What visitors do is drape a pair of shoes over one of the tree’s branches. The trend seems to have caught on quite well, because there are more pairs of shoes hanging from it than you can count.
12. The World's Largest Truck Stop, Walcott, Iowa
When Iowa 80 truck stop opened for business in 1965, it consisted of just one small store, an oil change and a restaurant. Its present-day iteration can park up to 800 trucks and serves more than 2 million cups of coffee a year. More than 64 million customers have passed through it since it opened.
13. Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska
If you had to merge Britain’s Stonehenge with the aforementioned Cadillac Ranch, the result would probably look something like this. Some 38 cars, painted gray, are arranged in a formation resembling the prehistoric monument. This wacky attraction was created by artist Jim Reinders in 1987.
14. Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa
Religious and non-religious people alike appreciate this elaborate shrine to the Virgin Mary, which was built in tribute to her by Paul Dobberstein following his successful battle with pneumonia. The entire structure is made of agates, geodes and semiprecious stones. It’s actually the largest collection of minerals and petrified material, with a geological value of $4 million.
15. Lucy the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey
Lucy was originally created in the 1800s to increase interest in beachfront property owned by James V. Lafferty. Although zoo-inspired architecture never became a thing, Lucy became a popular tourist attraction. She has been a restaurant, summer home and speakeasy in her long history. She fell into disrepair in the 1960s, but was saved from the wrecking ball and designated as a National Historic Landmark.
16. Longhorn Grill, Amado, Arizona
There’s no mistaking the giant, white horns along Interstate 19 that mark the entrance to the Longhorn Grill. The skull was built some time during the early 1970s, but locals are strangely vague about its exact origins. If you want to feel like you’re truly in the Wild West of old, you should really pay this place a visit.
17. Longaberger Basket Headquarters, Newark, Ohio
Although it’s barely 20 years old, the company that built this building as its headquarters has already moved on to new premises. The Longaberger Basket Co. is a wicker basket manufacturer, and this building was modeled after one of its products, namely a Medium Market Basket. The handles atop its roof weigh 150 tons each.
18. The World's Largest Rocking Chair, Cuba, Missouri
If you happen to be traveling along Route 66, take a break and sit back in this 46-foot-high rocking chair. Looking to drum up business for his store, the owner built the rocking chair to draw the attention of passers-by. The rockers alone weigh over 2,000 lbs each.
19. The Lost Sea, Sweetwater, Tennessee
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Lost Sea is the largest underground lake in the entire world. You enter a series of 140-foot-high caves, then embark on a glass-bottomed boat for a better view of the Lost Sea. Among the things you can see are 20,000-year-old jaguar tracks.
20. Biosphere 2, Oracle, Arizona
This spaceship-like glass facility lies on a ridge some 4,000 feet above sea level. You can learn about the past and future of our planet, as well as study the Phoenix Mars Lander exhibit in detail. If you’re not too interested in scientific research, you can admire the unique architecture of this building.
Content Source: TIME Magazine
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