There’s nothing like a good road trip, right? But even the best-planned road trip between home and a great destination (or several) can get dull at times. That’s where roadside attractions come in: they’re a great reason to stop your car, stretch your legs, and learn a bit about the history and culture of the place you’re passing through.
While most people do a “fly over” of the Great Plains states, there’s so much to explore on the ground. Read to learn about some of the best roadside attractions in the Great Plains states, from New Mexico to Nebraska and all the other states too.
Featured photo courtesy of Glam Granola Travel Photography via iStock
1. Billy the Kid Gravesite, New Mexico
The controversial burial spot of the notorious William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid is located in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. This historical monument is one of the most visited Wild West burial plots.
The headstone was stolen twice in the past. So when visiting, you’ll find Billy the Kid’s headstone caged and secured. History lovers should also peruse the letters, newspapers, and other noteworthy items in the museum.
2. Blue Whale on Route 66, Oklahoma
The happy Blue Whale on Route 66 has got to be one of the best roadside attractions in Oklahoma. Built in the 1970s, the smiling blue whale was originally a swimming hole.
Now, the bright, blue roadside attraction is a cool spot where road travelers can stop, stretch their legs, and take a couple of cool pictures.
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3. Cadillac Ranch, Texas
Another one of the best roadside attractions in the Great Plains is Cadillac Ranch. Located on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas, it is a unique attraction that consists of ten Cadillac cars buried nose-down into the ground on a single, straight file.
Stanley Marsh created this public roadside attraction in 1974 as a monument to the Golden Age of the American automobile. The cars are all covered with multicolored graffiti and a popular photo spot.
4. Carhenge, Nebraska
Known as one of America’s top three quirkiest landmarks, Carhenge is a unique replica of Stonehenge in England. Created with 38 vintage American automobiles covered in gray paint, this wacky roadside attraction is in Nebraska.
Jim Reinders built it in 1982 as a memorial to his father. It has now become a wildly popular Car Art Reserve and a great resting spot for travelers and tourists.
5. Center of the Nation Monument, South Dakota
You don’t want to miss a visit to the center of the nation, right? Located in Belle Fourche in South Dakota, this is one of the most popular roadside attractions in the Great Plains. It consists of a 21-foot diameter monument along with a Center of the Nation Visitor Centre and the Tri-State Museum.
Although the actual center of the nation is about 20 miles north of Belle Fourche this monument ensures easier access for guests and tourists.
6. Corn Palace, South Dakota
This unique 2-story arena is one of the best roadside attractions in South Dakota. Known as the World’s Only Corn Palace, it is the home of corny puns. It’s always beautifully decorated with corn, grain, and grass.
This historic palace was built in 1892 to celebrate hardworking farmers and pay homage to agriculture. This is a great stopover spot for tourists and travelers.
7. Cosmosphere, Kansas
The Cosmosphere International SciEd Center and Space Museum is a STEM education center and space museum. It’s located in Hutchison, Kansas, and is home to the second largest collection of U.S. space memorabilia.
This awe-inspiring space museum boasts of a digital dome theater, planetarium, and Spaceflight Gallery. For a full, immersive experience, plan to spend up to four hours at this location.
8. Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial, South Dakota
The Crazy Horse Mountain Memorial is in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills in South Dakota. At 6,532 feet above sea level, it is the tallest roadside attraction in South Dakota (even taller than Mount Rushmore!).
Carving began in 1948 by talented sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and has become a popular tourist attraction. It’s still a work in progress – and will eventually be the largest sculpture in the world. It takes about three to four hours to tour the entire mountain memorial.
9. Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming
If you’re driving through Wyoming, don’t miss stopping over at Devil’s Tower National Monument. The first-ever national monument in the U.S., it stands over 1200 feet tall.
This vertical monolith is sacred to many American Indians and is sure to take your breath away. If you love climbing, this is the perfect spot for you. There are several hiking trails available too and you are sure to spot some wildlife as well.
10. Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz, Kansas
Make a quick stopover and experience the thrills of Oz at Dorothy’s house in the heart of Liberal, Kansas. One of the major roadside attractions in the Great Plains, this old farmhouse is modeled after Dorothy’s house in the popular movie.
Complete with a yellow brick pathway, tour guides dressed as Dorothy, and life-sized versions of Tin Man and Scarecrow, this roadside attraction will be a thrill for kids and adults alike.
11. Fort Cody Trading Post, Nebraska
Stopover for a quick visit to Nebraska’s largest souvenir and gift store. Located in North Platte, it has been in existence since 1963. An adventure wonderland waiting to be explored, this trading post boasts of 20,000 hand-carved figures in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and other authentic cowboy gear. If you are traveling with kids, this roadside attraction is the perfect spot to get out and burn off some energy.
12. Geographical Center of North America, North Dakota
Don’t confuse this one with the Center of the Nation Monument (#5) or the Geographic Center of the U.S. (#13). This one marks the center of the continent rather than the Lower 48 or the entire U.S.
When driving through Rugby, lookout for a unique monument marking the geographical center of North America. A 15-foot rock obelisk mounted between the US and Canadian flags marks this roadside attraction.
You can easily miss this one, as it’s located in the parking lot of a gift shop. If you need a place to stop, stretch your feet and walk about for a bit, this is it.
13. Geographic Center of the U.S., Kansas
Located in Lebanon, Kansas, the geographic center of the US is a unique monument. This roadside attraction might not be glamorous but it is worth stopping over for a short visit. You can look forward to reading notes and letters from previous visitors and taking a couple of pictures beside the monument.
14. Golden Driller, Oklahoma
The Golden Driller statue is a very famous roadside attraction in Oklahoma. Built in 1953 by an oilfield supply company this ancient statue is 73 feet tall and still remains the tallest free-standing statue in the US.
It was built as a memorial to the men of the petroleum industry. Now, it’s a popular tourist attraction on the Great Plains.
15. Herkimer the World’s Largest Beetle, Colorado
Located in Colorado, this giant roadside eye-grabber is a monstrous West Indian Hercules Beetle named Herkimer. It was built in the mid-1950s and over the year it has suffered vandalism and wear and tear. It is a unique roadside attraction and is perfect for taking pictures and stretching your legs.
16. The Prada Marfa, Texas
Fancy finding a Prada store in the middle of a lonely West Texas highway? Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset built this Prada Marfa as a replica of a luxury Prada boutique.
This non-functioning store has now become a buzzing hub for tourists and social media influencers. The unique roadside attraction has stood the test of time and it is definitely worth a visit.
17. Truckhenge, Kansas
Eclectically similar to Carhenge in Nebraska, Truckhenge is a unique combination of recycled art and nature. It is located in Topeka, Kansas and consists of six antique trucks half-buried in the ground.
Truckhenge is reminiscent of England’s Stonehenge, like Carhenge. But it is also surrounded by unique recycled object art and special species of native plants. This roadside attraction is fascinating and not to be missed.
18. Wall Drug, South Dakota
Located in Wall, South Dakota, this is one of the oldest roadside attractions on the Great Plains. The tourist stop offers gifts, souvenirs, dining, free ice water and dining to tourists and road-worn travelers.
Wall Drug currently attracts about two million visitors each year. It is the perfect place for a stopover and you are sure to enjoy a delicious, quick, home-style meal.
19. World’s Largest Ball of Twine, Kansas
Stopover and add some more twine to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. Frank Stoeber started this unique roadside attraction in 1953. It has since become an identity for Cawker City in Kansas.
Every August, the town holds a twine-a-thon where residents and visitors come together to add more twine to the ball. Tourists can also call ahead to make arrangements to add more twine to the ball.
20. World’s Largest Buffalo Monument, North Dakota
Jamestown, North Dakota boasts of having the world’s largest Buffalo Monument. This 26-foot concrete monument of an American Bison has become one of the most popular roadside attractions in North Dakota.
Built in 1959, the giant buffalo received the name “Dakota Thunder” in 2010. The monument grounds also host the National Buffalo Museum and the Frontier Village. This location is rich in culture and history and is definitely worth visiting.
21. World’s Largest Easel, Kansas
This giant easel in Kansas is another awesome proof that the Great Plains are not actually plain. Located in Goodland, this 80-feet tall easel features a giant 32 by 24-foot reproduction of Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings.
The giant easel is surrounded by a quaint little park where tourists can walk around and travelers can rest while appreciating Kansas’ mighty work of art.
22. World’s Largest Pop Bottle and Store, Oklahoma
Built by Aubrey K. McClendon in 2007, this 66-foot tall soda bottle has become one of the best roadside attractions in Oklahoma. It’s called “Bubbles,” and there’s a soda-themed roadhouse named Pops nearby.
This giant minimalist soda bottle is made of stacked hoops. At night, the huge soda bottle glows with the aid of thousands of colorful LEDs. The roadhouse is popular for its wide variety of soda, sparkling water and other bottled drinks.
23. World’s Largest Time Capsule, Nebraska
Located in Seward, Nebraska, the world’s largest time capsule is a huge concrete vault filled with over 5,000 relics. Weighing up to 45 tons, Harold Davisson built this monument. It was dedicated on July 4, 1975. The plan is to open it in 2025.
Which of these best roadside attractions in the Great Plains will you add to your next road trip? Let me know in the comments – and if you have any questions, ask those too!
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