Stop the car! During your next road trip, forget the rest areas and instead stretch your legs at a quirky restaurant or attraction, like the kitschy Cabazon Dinosaurs in California or the unconventional Corn Palace in South Dakota. Here are seven singular pit stops you’ll want to put into the GPS.
Oversized everything in Casey, Illinois
The moment you drive into Casey, Illinois, you might think you’re shrinking. Really. The town is home to more than 30 giant objects, with 12 of them setting world records. There’s an enormous mailbox, rocking chair, barbershop pole and mouse trap, among other items. It all started in 2011, when resident Jim Bolin opened a sandwich shop. He needed a gimmick to draw customers and decided to make the world’s largest wind chime for his restaurant. Bolin told Fodor’s Travel that visitors should plan to spend an afternoon in Casey, where they can “just look at stuff that’s kind of crazy-looking and just enjoy life for a little bit. It’s a stop-and-smell-the-roses-type thing.”
The Enchanted Highway in western North Dakota is a road like no other. Stretching 32 miles from Gladstone to Regent, it’s lined with giant metal structures, including “Geese in Flight,” the world’s largest scrap-metal sculpture. Pull over to get a closer look at these massive works of art, and be sure to take lots of pictures. When else will you find yourself in front of a 70-foot-tall trout jumping out of water?
Real-life mermaids in Weeki Wachee, Florida
Take a break from the road, and go under the sea. At Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, “mermaids” perform in front of visitors in a submerged auditorium, putting their spin on classics like Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.” The mermaids made their park debut in 1947, wowing crowds by eating, drinking and dancing underwater. After catching a show, head over to Buccaneer Bay to try out the water slides, or go paddling on the Weeki Wachee River.
Ever-changing Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota
At the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, what you see (corn, and lots of it) is what you get. It was founded in 1892, and has been a staple in the community ever since, with proms, graduations, banquets, dances and other events held inside. The Corn Palace gets a refresh every year, as a new theme is chosen and workers use different varieties of corn, other grains and native grasses to create murals that cover the exterior. If you have a chance to visit when the murals are being updated, it’s pretty a-maize-ing.
Extreme interactive dining at Superfrico in Las Vegas, Nevada
You never know who — or what — will pass by your table during dinner at Superfrico. Serving “Italian American Psychedelic” food inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Superfrico is an interactive dinner experience, with guests digging into their chicken parm and beef cheek rigatoni as performers from the show OPM make their way around the neon-filled room. Over the course of 20 minutes, you might see a saxophonist in cut-off shorts climb on a table and start playing “Careless Whisper,” a juggler fling light-up bowling pins high in the air and a twerking stuffed animal, just to name a few of the acts. It’s as outrageously fun as it sounds.
Always-in-motion Carousel Bar & Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana
You’ll want to give this one a whirl. The Carousel Bar has been delighting guests since 1949, when it opened as New Orleans’ first and only rotating bar. It takes about 15 minutes to make one revolution, and you can easily fill the time sipping on a cocktail and soaking up the whimsical atmosphere. There’s also live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday in the lounge.
Monster-sized dinosaurs in Cabazon, California
Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex have been luring drivers off of Interstate 10 for decades. The giant Cabazon Dinosaurs are made of steel and concrete and have made cameos in several movies, including most famously in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” Anyone can stop by and take photos in front of Dinny and Mr. Rex, and depending on the season, the pair might have a festive look. During Christmas, for example, the massive dinos are transformed into Santa and Mrs. Claus, and their Halloween costumes are painted on during October.
Catherine Garcia was a guest of Superfrico