Travel Tips & Themes – Roadside Attractions

Travel Tips & Themes: Roadside Attractions

Designed to encourage travelers — usually those on a road trip — to stop and explore, roadside attractions can vary from fascinating to freaky. As North Americans abandoned trains and flocked to their Fords as automobiles were adopted as the primary mode of transportation, roadside attractions became a cultural phenomenon. Beginning with Route 66 in the 1920s, entrepreneurs established lodging, dining, and other necessary establishments. In order to compete for business, roadside attractions were added. They included everything from exotic animals to everyday objects of gargantuan size. Although the road that started it all has long been abandoned for the modern interstate highway system, roadside attractions from Route 66’s heyday and newer sights persist.

Roadside Attractions in the US South

Quirky Outdoor Sculptures at Barber Marina Elberta, Alabama
This alligator is one of several quirky roadside attractions at the Barber Marina in Elberta, Alabama.

Roadside Attractions in the US West

Ranch House in Tucumcari, New Mexico
A dilapidated truck sits in front of a deteriorating marquee where the Ranch House Cafe once flourished in the hey day of Route 66, a historic road in the US that remains full of abandoned roadside attractions.