Roadside Attractions In America You May Or May Not Get Murdered In

By Madelaine

It can be daunting to figure out the best places to stop on a road trip, especially if it’s an unplanned stop. I tend to feel anxious if I make an unplanned stop on a highway, thinking that it’ll add too much time, or what will those waiting for me at my destination think if I show up late. But in all honesty it doesn’t matter, stopping for twenty minutes or an hour for lunch won’t be that bad and those who are waiting for you, as long as you keep them updated and you didn’t have hard plans won’t be upset. Stopping at weird roadside attractions are all apart of the adventure.

So many billboards line the side of the highways, inviting you over and over again to their foods or attractions. After about ten billboards about the same thing, I tend to become curious. Thankfully too, I have a mom who forces us to stop just to see what these things are. Even though they can be on the top of lists of roadside attractions to stop at and all of the slightly faded highway signs tell you to stop, some of them can emit, once there, a very murdery, Hotel El Royal feeling. I suggest always listen to that feeling and go with your gut and get out if any places feel like that. 

Now after that long intro, here is a list and review of the best and worst roadside attractions so you can feel more comfortable stopping at them. 

1. South of the Border, SC:

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Every other mile along the highway has a billboard depicting South of The Border. It calls for travelers to come so much that I just had to visit; then quickly run away hoping I wouldn’t get dragged into a drug deal. The theme park was closed for the season (The website doesn’t state if there ever is an official season). It was almost completely empty except for one other family stopping for food and the employees. The food was subpar americanized to death mexican food. The bathrooms, both women and men restrooms (since my brother and I needed a topic for the six hours of driving ahead of us) had a bathroom attendant smoking in a side closet within each bathroom. I suggest saving the trip to this roadside stop, especially if the unknown and places with a threatening horror movie aesthetic makes you nervous. 

2. Tommy Bartlett Show in Wisconsin Dells, WI:

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From May 25th to September 1st come to Camp Bartlett at the Tommy Bartlett Show. It Emits a cheesy nonthreatening vibe with its water tricks extravaganza. Having almost the same plot as Camp Rock Two, the show is a sight to see. Not fully having to participate in the entertainment, like the large pyramid within the Wisconsin Dells (a whole town that is full of cheezyness and weird tourist town places) it allows for those like me who don’t like to be in the spotlight or called out to have a great time. For those staying in the Wisconsin Dells or just driving by, the Tommy Bartlett Show is a great time. 

3. Wall Drug, SD:

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This roadside attraction is basically a large mall filled with touristy western souvenirs. The restaurants are filled with averagely good food, if not a bit expensive, and the giant statues of animals are rideable for pictures. A bit crowded within the shops and pricey, I suggest just wandering around for the statues and food unless shopping for nicknacks is up your alley. The signs along the highway and the aesthetic of the place when driving up can look a little like a sinister trap, but it’s really clean and cheesy once inside. It can be very overrated, though, and I found myself after eating becoming very bored. If you wish to just cross it off your list of places to go, since every famous person ever is rumored to have gone there, and you have time to stop for lunch, just go for a meal and some pictures, but really you can skip it.

4. Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, VT:

The least threatening and cutest place on this list has to be the Ben and Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard where all the retired flavors are put to rest. Some of the flavors include Chocolate Comfort, Oh Pear, and Economic Crunch. There is also a thirty minute factory tour and at the end a sample of an ice cream flavor, which really is almost a full scoop and worth the tour alone. You don’t have to go on the tour though to experience the Flavor Graveyard if you’re crunched for time. You don’t have to pay anything for the graveyard, just park and walk up to it. 

5. Foamhenge, VA:

The henge used to be located in a random field where a farmer looked like they could shoot you for being on private property. Dismantled and moved to Centreville Virginia at Cox Farm in 2017 the spectacular sight is open From April 26 to August 25th from 12-2pm on Saturdays during the Fall Festival and September 20th- November 2nd  7:30- 11 pm for the Fear Festival. Created by Artist Mark Cline, Foamhenge is decked out with a foam Merlin and a foam dinosaur. You will now have to pay admission to Cox Farm, so make sure you wish to spend time at the farm as well. The farm is filled with animals, a market, and events. Access to FoamHenge will be via a shuttle, so there will be no more uncertainty of whether you should be visiting it or not. It’s definitely a sight to behold. 

An honorable mention that is now closed:

Flintstones Bedrock City, SD:

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Now dead, it’s worth mentioning because of its cryptic atmosphere. I went there around 2012 and stayed at their RV park. Filled with animatronic Flint stone characters and houses of the Bedrock village you could tour around and take pictures of the cartoon classic. There’s also one in Arizona which, now abandoned, can be explored, but I suggest just watching the cartoon instead.

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