Roadside tourist attractions around the US that are actually worth the detour

blaine kern's mardi gras worldPaul Mannix/Flickr/Attribution 2.0 Generic

  • Road trips can provide endless opportunities for spontaneity, but it's not always easy to ensure that each detour will be worth the stop.
  • So how can you know which of America's many roadside attractions are worth seeing?
  • We pulled the top-rated roadside attractions from travel site Roadside America and found the best of the best on TripAdvisor that were highly-reviewed by travelers.
  • From Utah's Hole N' the Rock to New Orleans' Mardi Gras World, here are the roadside tourist traps that you won't regret making time for.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
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Near the Ohio and West Virginia border in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, sits the Mothman Museum, a site dedicated to the local Mothman Legacy.

Near the Ohio and West Virginia border in the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, sits the Mothman Museum, a site dedicated to the local Mothman Legacy.

Source: Roadside America

The story goes that in 1966 and 1967, residents of Point Pleasant claimed to have seen a human-like, winged insect creature with glowing red eyes about town. It was dubbed the "Mothman."

The story goes that in 1966 and 1967, residents of Point Pleasant claimed to have seen a human-like, winged insect creature with glowing red eyes about town. It was dubbed the "Mothman."

Source: Atlas Obscura

Media attention and conspiracy theories inevitably followed, and "The World's Only Mothman Museum" now puts all things related to the local legend on display for visitors, from memorabilia and books ...

Media attention and conspiracy theories inevitably followed, and "The World's Only Mothman Museum" now puts all things related to the local legend on display for visitors, from memorabilia and books ...

... to some creative reinterpretations of what the creature is said to have looked like.

... to some creative reinterpretations of what the creature is said to have looked like.

There are also newspaper clippings and written first-hand accounts from people who said they've seen the creature on display.

There are also newspaper clippings and written first-hand accounts from people who said they've seen the creature on display.

The museum also claims to have the world's largest collection of props used in the 2002 film "The Mothman Prophecies" starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, based on the events surrounding the events in the late 1960s.

The museum also claims to have the world's largest collection of props used in the 2002 film "The Mothman Prophecies" starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, based on the events surrounding the events in the late 1960s.

Source: Mothman Museum

And what's a museum devoted to an urban legend without a gift shop?

And what's a museum devoted to an urban legend without a gift shop?

According to one TripAdvisor reviewer, it's a "hokey, albeit interesting and absurd, little museum in an out of the way place."

According to one TripAdvisor reviewer, it's a "hokey, albeit interesting and absurd, little museum in an out of the way place."

Source: TripAdvisor

The same reviewer said "the statue of the Mothman alone is worth a visit," referring to the metal statue erected just outside the museum.

The same reviewer said "the statue of the Mothman alone is worth a visit," referring to the metal statue erected just outside the museum.

Source: TripAdvisor

Who knows? Maybe you'll even catch a glimpse of the creature, though maybe not with the same fright factor as the 2002 film's depiction seen below. Museum admission costs $4 for adults and $1 for kids under 10.

Who knows? Maybe you'll even catch a glimpse of the creature, though maybe not with the same fright factor as the 2002 film's depiction seen below. Museum admission costs $4 for adults and $1 for kids under 10.

Source: Mothman Museum

About 45 minutes outside of Madison, Wisconsin, sits Dr. Evermor's Sculpture Park in North Freedom, Wisconsin.

About 45 minutes outside of Madison, Wisconsin, sits Dr. Evermor's Sculpture Park in North Freedom, Wisconsin.

Source: Roadside America

There you will find the "world's largest scrap metal sculpture," dubbed Forevertron.

There you will find the "world's largest scrap metal sculpture," dubbed Forevertron.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Throughout the garden, industrial scrap metal is twisted and turned into birds, dragons, tubes, and other figures for a truly eccentric experience.

Throughout the garden, industrial scrap metal is twisted and turned into birds, dragons, tubes, and other figures for a truly eccentric experience.

It's the brainchild of this guy, Tom Every, a retired industrial wrecker who invented the alter ego Dr. Evermor, an English Victorian creator, and constructed his sculpture collection as a means to ascend "into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam."

It's the brainchild of this guy, Tom Every, a retired industrial wrecker who invented the alter ego Dr. Evermor, an English Victorian creator, and constructed his sculpture collection as a means to ascend "into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam."

Source: Atlas Obscura

The lifelong "professional destroyer" wanted to spend the rest of his life doing the opposite, according to Atlas Obscura.

The lifelong "professional destroyer" wanted to spend the rest of his life doing the opposite, according to Atlas Obscura.

Source: Atlas Obscura

The sculptures are made of recycled industrial relics, according to PBS Independent Lens.

The sculptures are made of recycled industrial relics, according to PBS Independent Lens.

Source: PBS Independent Lens

Every's work consists of scrap metal he's collected over the years. Somewhere within the twisted metal lies Thomas Edison dynamos, or generators, and a decontamination chamber from NASA's Apollo project.

Every's work consists of scrap metal he's collected over the years. Somewhere within the twisted metal lies Thomas Edison dynamos, or generators, and a decontamination chamber from NASA's Apollo project.

Source: Atlas Obscura

TripAdvisor reviewers say visiting is like taking a "trip into another world" and is like "Dr Suess come to life!"

TripAdvisor reviewers say visiting is like taking a "trip into another world" and is like "Dr Suess come to life!"

Source: TripAdvisor

But something stressed in many of the reviews is how difficult it can be to find the sculptures. Reviewers advise that a small sign off of Highway 12 leads you to what looks like an abandoned dirt road, but you're in the right place. Just keep going.

But something stressed in many of the reviews is how difficult it can be to find the sculptures. Reviewers advise that a small sign off of Highway 12 leads you to what looks like an abandoned dirt road, but you're in the right place. Just keep going.

Source: TripAdvisor

Construction of this park began in 1983. Today, the park continues to expand its pieces.

Construction of this park began in 1983.  Today, the park continues to expand its pieces.

Source: PBS Independent Lens

Whether you geek out on medical history or you're simply a fan of the strange and unusual, the Mutter Museum may be worth a stop.

Whether you geek out on medical history or you're simply a fan of the strange and unusual, the Mutter Museum may be worth a stop.

It's housed in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

It's housed in the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania.

Source: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

Inside is a vast collection of everything offering a "peek into the unknown," according to one TripAdvisor reviewer.

Inside is a vast collection of everything offering a "peek into the unknown," according to one TripAdvisor reviewer.

Source: TripAdvisor

There are skeletons, preserved human remains, a menagerie of choked-on objects extracted from the throats of patients, and other medical abnormalities.

There are skeletons, preserved human remains, a menagerie of choked-on objects extracted from the throats of patients, and other medical abnormalities.

Source: Atlas Obscura

There's also a plaster cast of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker that was taken upon their death in the 1800s.

There's also a plaster cast of the Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker that was taken upon their death in the 1800s.

Source: Atlas Obscura and The Mutter Museum

Notably, the Mutter Museum is home to slivers of Albert Einstein's brain, saved from cremation by pathologist Thomas Harvey who hoped to uncover the secret of the scientist's genius with future study of the brain.

Notably, the Mutter Museum is home to slivers of Albert Einstein's brain, saved from cremation by pathologist Thomas Harvey who hoped to uncover the secret of the scientist's genius with future study of the brain.

Source: Atlas Obscura

As much of a macabre enthusiast's dream the Mutter Museum may be, be prepared to pay for admission — it costs $18 for adults, and photos are not allowed.

As much of a macabre enthusiast's dream the Mutter Museum may be, be prepared to pay for admission — it costs $18 for adults, and photos are not allowed.

Source: The Mutter Museum

A bible-inspired theme park called Ark's Encounter in Williamstown Kentucky features a replica of Noah's Ark.

A bible-inspired theme park called Ark's Encounter in Williamstown Kentucky features a replica of Noah's Ark.

Source:Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

According to Atlas Obscura, the replica measures up to the description of the ark in the Book of Genesis — 510 feet long, 51 feet high, and 85 feet wide.

According to Atlas Obscura, the replica measures up to the description of the ark in the Book of Genesis — 510 feet long, 51 feet high, and 85 feet wide.

Source: Atlas Obscura

The ark has three decks, and each deck is accessible by ramp. Because of this, the attraction is more than just handicap-accessible — patrons can check out scooters and strollers for their journey at the park.

The ark has three decks, and each deck is accessible by ramp.  Because of this, the attraction is more than just handicap-accessible — patrons can check out scooters and strollers for their journey at the park.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Inside the ark, you'll find replicas of people and animals. Some exhibits include animatronics of Noah and his family.

Inside the ark, you'll find replicas of people and animals. Some exhibits include animatronics of Noah and his family.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Plaques feature descriptions of each exhibit, leaving visitors both entertained and informed by giving them context for what they're looking at.

Plaques feature descriptions of each exhibit, leaving visitors both entertained and informed by giving them context for what they're looking at.

Source: Atlas Obscura

A drive down the East Coast would lead you to a somewhat mysterious attraction. The Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida is known as a "great monument to lost love," according to Atlas Obscura.

A drive down the East Coast would lead you to a somewhat mysterious attraction.  The Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida is known as a "great monument to lost love," according to Atlas Obscura.

Source: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

Ed Leedskalnin built the castle after having his heart broken by his high school sweetheart.

Ed Leedskalnin built the castle after having his heart broken by his high school sweetheart.

Source: Atlas Obscura

He made the castle out of fossilized coral, hence the attraction's title.

He made the castle out of fossilized coral, hence the attraction's title.

Source: Atlas Obscura

According to Atlas Obscura, Leedskalnin was very secretive about the building process of the structure, which he only worked on at night.

According to Atlas Obscura, Leedskalnin was very secretive about the building process of the structure, which he only worked on at night.

Source: Atlas Obscura

The castle includes unique pieces, such as a sundial, a stone rocking chair, and a 500-pound heart shaped table.

The castle includes unique pieces, such as a sundial, a stone rocking chair, and a 500-pound heart shaped table.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Further west in New Orleans' Lower Garden District sits Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World.

Further west in New Orleans' Lower Garden District sits Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World.

Source: Roadside America

It's where the extravagant floats and props for the city's momentous Mardi Gras festival are produced and stored.

It's where the extravagant floats and props for the city's momentous Mardi Gras festival are produced and stored.

Source: Atlas Obscura

The warehouse owner Blaine Kern, pictured below, officially launched Kern Studios in 1947 and cemented himself as the go-to float designer amongst the city's Mardi Gras Krewes, or the different organizations that host the floats. He's since become known as "Mister Mardi Gras."

The warehouse owner Blaine Kern, pictured below, officially launched Kern Studios in 1947 and cemented himself as the go-to float designer amongst the city's Mardi Gras Krewes, or the different organizations that host the floats. He's since become known as "Mister Mardi Gras."

Source: Mardi Gras World

And in 1984, he decided to open the working factory to the public for tours.

And in 1984, he decided to open the working factory to the public for tours.

Source: Mardi Gras World

For $22, visitors can tour the studio and see some of the upcoming Mardi Gras festival floats in progress.

For $22, visitors can tour the studio and see some of the upcoming Mardi Gras festival floats in progress.

Source: Mardi Gras World and Mardi Gras World

You also get a rundown of the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans during your tour, and in addition to seeing upcoming floats, can see the ones from years passed.

You also get a rundown of the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans during your tour, and in addition to seeing upcoming floats, can see the ones from years passed.

Source: Mardi Gras World

One TripAdvisor reviewer said that after the New Orleans historic Preservation Hall attraction, Mardi Gras World was the highlight of their trip — which is saying something.

One TripAdvisor reviewer said that after the New Orleans historic Preservation Hall attraction, Mardi Gras World was the highlight of their trip — which is saying something.

Source: TripAdvisor

In this western region of America is Utah's Hole 'N the Rock, where a man carved a house into a rock.

In this western region of America is Utah's Hole 'N the Rock, where a man carved a house into a rock.

Source: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

In the 1940's, Albert Christensen dug, carved, and blasted the easy-to-spot home into a rock. After 12 years of hard work, he had made a home for himself and his wife.

In the 1940's, Albert Christensen dug, carved, and blasted the easy-to-spot home into a rock. After 12 years of hard work, he had made a home for himself and his wife.

Source: Atlas Obscura

After Albert and his wife died, the 5,000 square-foot home in Monticello, Utah, is now a tourist attraction.

After Albert and his wife died, the 5,000 square-foot home in Monticello, Utah, is now a tourist attraction.

Source: Atlas Obscura

Patrons can explore the ins and outs of this unique home. Reviews on Trip Advisor suggest that this is a quick detour and worth the stop.

Patrons can explore the ins and outs of this unique home. Reviews on Trip Advisor suggest that this is a quick detour and worth the stop.

Source: Atlas Obscura , Trip Advisor

In Primm, Nevada, there's a hotel and casino named Whiskey Pete's.

In Primm, Nevada, there's a hotel and casino named Whiskey Pete's.

Source: Roadside America

There you'll find the "Death Car" used by notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s during their two-year robbing and killing spree — and ultimately where they met their death in 1934.

There you'll find the "Death Car" used by notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde in the 1930s during their two-year robbing and killing spree — and ultimately where they met their death in 1934.

Source: Roadside America

Glass panels surround the riddled car within Whiskey Pete's where lawman laid 100 bullets that pierced the armor, killing the pair. The display is free of cost and open 24/7.

Glass panels surround the riddled car within Whiskey Pete's where lawman laid 100 bullets that pierced the armor, killing the pair. The display is free of cost and open 24/7.

Source: Roadside America and Vegas

You can also catch a glimpse of the shirt Clyde Barrow was wearing at the time of his death. Tears and faded blood stains can be seen on it.

You can also catch a glimpse of the shirt Clyde Barrow was wearing at the time of his death. Tears and faded blood stains can be seen on it.

Source: Roadside America

And when you're done reading about the infamous duo, you can head over to the slot machines — it's a casino, too, after all.

And when you're done reading about the infamous duo, you can head over to the slot machines — it's a casino, too, after all.
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