A summer-vacation guilty pleasure, roadside attractions tend to come in super sizes—from a titanic ball of twine to ginormous Paul Bunyans. The next time you embark on a road trip, indulge your inner Clark Griswold and stop by one of these truly larger-than-life icons.
1. California: World’s tallest thermometer
How big? 134 feet tall
Between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, sizzling Mojave Desert temps light up this digital, skyscraping thermometer—its height a nod to the world-record 134-degree heat set in nearby Death Valley National Park in 1913.
Info: 72157 Baker Boulevard, Baker.
2. New Mexico: World’s largest pistachio
How big? 30 feet tall
A prodigious concrete pistachio lures drivers to McGinn’s Country Store. Admire the massive nut while munching roasted, salted pistachios—the store’s most popular snack—or go big with green chile–flavored nuts.
Info: 7320 US Highway 54/70, Alamogordo.
3. Minnesota: America’s biggest Viking
How big? 28 feet tall
Built in 1965 for the New York World’s Fair, fiberglass Norseman “Big Ole” brandishes a battle shield that reads “Alexandria: Birthplace of America”—a nod to a local legend that Vikings visited the area in the 1300s.
Info: In Big Ole Park on the north end of Broadway Street, Alexandria.
4. Illinois: World’s largest ketchup bottle
How big? 70 feet tall
Just off Route 66, the king-size condiment crowns a water tower erected in 1949 to serve the now-defunct Brooks Catsup bottling plant. If filled with ketchup, the bottle would hold 100,000 gallons. Want fries with that?
Info: 800 S. Morrison Avenue, Collinsville.
5. Kansas: World’s largest ball of twine
How big? Nearly 44-foot circumference; 27,005 pounds
This monstrous spherical attraction is the stuff of road-trip legend. Begun in 1953 by the late Frank Stoeber, the ball continues to swell as visitors contribute sisal twine to the fibrous colossus.
Info: 710 Wisconsin Street (on US Highway 24), Cawker City.
6. Maine: World’s biggest Paul Bunyan
How big? 31 feet tall
Though not technically the tallest roadside Bunyan around (California is home to a 49-footer), this Paul, which was frighteningly featured in Maine native Stephen King’s novel It, still proclaims itself the biggest.
Info: 519 Main Street, Bangor.
7. Ohio: World’s largest basket
How big? Seven stories tall
Former corporate headquarters for the woven basket–making Longaberger Company, this office building–size replica of a picnic basket opened in 1997 at a reported construction cost of $32 million.
Info: 1500 E. Main Street, Newark.
8. Texas:World’s largest killer bee
How big? 10 feet tall; 24 feet long
In 1990, Africanized “killer bees” swarmed the U.S.–Mexico border town of Hidalgo, marking their first appearance in the U.S. The town commemorated the event by constructing a scary-big stinger (pictured at top) in front of City Hall.
Info: 704 E. Ramon Ayala Drive, Hidalgo.
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