Before I loved National Parks, I loved roadside attractions. LOVED THEM. Have you ever driven near-ish to New Mexico and seen a Billboard for the Deming Duck Races? I saw my first one in Oklahoma when I was 16, and when I was 19 I finally made it and raced a duck. Maybe you’ve seen signs for “THE THING” and finally checked it out and were only slightly disappointed with what it turned out to be? I love the bizarreness of a dream that culminates in the world’s largest ketchup bottle, or a giant ball of string. I was overjoyed while reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and it’s homage to the mythology of roadside attractions and the open road of America. So in honor of my first love in cross country trekking here are some we’ve visited on our road trips.
Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium is a wonderful stop if you happen to be near Gettysburg. It’s bizarre collection of every kind of elephant you could possibly imagine. There are gardens outdoors, but the last time we stopped it was winter and everything was blanket in snow.
It’s a fun place with so much candy! They make their own fudge and have fancy chocolates for sale, but they have a large variety bulk candies for sale and of course souvenir Elephants! I really love this place. My husband remembers visiting when he was a kid and took me early in our relationship. I’d love to say that we stop here for the kids, but I get so excited when I start seeing the signs. It is better with the kids, though none of mine will ride Dumbo 😦 My favorite room though is the wall to wall Pez dispensers. Including Presidents of the United States, and not just the good ones, all of them. After all who doesn’t need Millard Fillmore in Pez?
The World’s Largest Teapot is conveniently located in Chester, West Virginia which wasn’t our destination but handily located off our exit. There wasn’t a good place to pull over and park, but it was fun for our tea loving family and had the weather been nicer we would have gotten out. I am still sad that on our last big trek I missed the World’s Largest Bottle of Ketchup in Collinsville, IL. Pittsburgh is pretty hardcore about Ketchup, so it’s definitely a pilgrimage we will be making, when we finally get to see the Mounds. We were planning to swing by a couple years ago but there was so much road construction we lost too much time and finally had to push for home. When we saw the teapot we were actually headed to another attraction, The Fiesta Ware Factory!
It may sound boring but it was really cool. There is a factory tour, but be forewarned you need to call ahead and you can’t have anyone under 9 or anyone who has mobility issues because it is a working factory tour. Today we were just doing some shopping at the amazing seconds warehouse, because why pay first quality prices when your kids are just going to break it anyway! The kids had a great time rushing around the bins and racks of dishware looking for colors and specific styles and while I worried that the kids would break something, it turned out I was the one who shattered a dish. I blame the disorderly stacking system 😉 !
The kids were remarkably good at finding pieces in the warehouse, I have this theory that all the lego building helped them spot the nuanced differences in the plate shapes. We got as many different colors as we could, which was a good plan because while they didn’t break anything in the warehouse, their streak has failed!
If you are interested in adding weird roadside things to your own trips I find Roadtrippers.com to be a good resource. I have found it too buggy and hard to use to really plan my trips but once they are planned you can use it to find anything quirky and strange on your way, happy hunting!