The 9 Best Roadside Attractions Along I-20 in the Great Plains
Stretching from Florence, South Carolina to Scroggins Draw, Texas, U.S. Interstate 20 is one of the great cross-country thoroughfares. Every day, millions of vehicles make their way along I-20, cutting down the time it takes between major cities along the route like Atlanta, Birmingham, and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Within the Great Plains states, Interstate 20 (or I-20) runs from the metropolitan area of Dallas-Fort worth to its western terminus at Scroggins Draw; there it merges with I-10 headed westward and shortly thereafter out of the Great Plains. While you might think there’s not much to see along this route, there are some incredible roadside attractions along I-20.
In choosing these roadside attractions along I-20, I tried to keep the stops within a few miles of I-20; you won’t find some of the other great roadside attractions in the Great Plains on this list if they’re too far from Interstate 20 itself. I’ve also listed them from east to west, rather than ranking them in a certain order. In any event, this will hopefully inspire your current road trip plan – and to explore more of the region on a future road trip too.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Jumanos, Wichita, Nʉmʉnʉʉ Sookobitʉ (Comanche), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Tawakoni, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), and Mescalero Apache peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Stockyards Museum, Fort Worth
You can’t drive through Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards Museum. This museum is one of the must-see roadside attractions along I-20.
It takes you through the history of Fort Worth’s livestock industry and the town’s cowboy lifestyle. The museum is tiny but packs a punch with interesting memorabilia, from possessions of early immigrants and cowboy accessories to railway maps and cowboy photographs. After visiting the museum, you can go to the back of the building to see the historical cattle pens.
Frontier Texas!, Abilene
Frontier Texas! is a unique museum in the heart of Abilene. The site serves as a western heritage center focusing on life on the frontier (mostly until the arrival of the trains) and the conflicts between Texas settlers and indigenous peoples.
All the exhibits are interactive, featuring different media types and holograms of people who tell their life stories during the 1880s in Texas. It’s worth a visit if you want to witness a fresh re-examination of the history of Texas expansion.
World’s Largest Buffalo Skull, Abilene
Abilene is also home to one of the quirkiest tourist attractions along Interstate 20: the world’s largest buffalo skull.
The skull is truly enormous, weighing two tons and stretching 26 feet across. It is the work of Joe Barrington, who built it in June 2012 using steel salvaged from old Texas oil tanks. It offers multiple photo opportunities; you can sit on top or inside its nose. The skull watches over the parade grounds of Frontier Texas, so you can combine a visit to both places.
National WASP WWII Museum, Sweetwater
The National WASP WWII Museum should be on your list of roadside attractions along I-20. This museum shows how thousands of brave women stepped forward to serve this country in WWII.
It has two hangars; Hangar 1 has footage of the women, their uniforms, recounts of the training experience, and even letters they wrote and sent to loved ones. Hanger 2 houses various trainer planes, including a Boeing PT-17, Vultee BT-13, and Cessna UC-78 when not out flying. Well worth a visit!
Stonehenge Replica, Odessa
If you didn’t see the real Stonehenge while in England, this replica in Odessa comes close enough.
Stoneworkers Connie and Brenda Edwards built the replica in the summer of 2004. The replica is in the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus, and it took the stoneworkers only six weeks to build it. While the replica is slightly shorter than the original, the limestone slabs that comprise it are up to 19 feet tall and 20 tons apiece; its horizontal size and disposition are accurate.
Odessa Meteor Crater, Odessa
The Odessa meteor crater is one of the most popular roadside attractions along I-20 for space junkies.
Approximately 50,000 years ago, a thousand-ton meteorite crashed into the Earth, leaving a hole 550 feet wide and 100 feet deep. It became the second-largest meteor crater in the U.S.
A long time has passed since the incident, and the crater is already filled nearly to its rim with dust and silt. You can still visit and walk along the trail with signs that explain its history.
There’s also a small museum with cool rocks and minerals worth checking out. The site is approximately 3 miles south of Interstate 20.
Jack Ben Rabbit, Odessa
Jack Ben Rabbit, the world’s largest Jackrabbit, came to life in 1962. It was the gift of Odessa Chamber of Commerce president John Ben Shepperd, who wanted to pay tribute to the city’s jackrabbit roping competition.
While the competition ended in 1978, the statue remains a symbol of this Texas city and has become a historical landmark. It is also one of the top tourist attractions along I-20, drawing numerous visitors who want to take home a goofy photo with the giant rabbit.
Million Barrel Museum, Monahans
The Million Barrel Museum is one of the least known roadside attractions along I-20. It is a pity because the site is really cool and doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to visit.
You won’t find a million barrels or one giant barrel despite its name. Instead, there’s a cement oil tank the size of three football fields. Monahans was one of the stars during the West Texas oil boom in the late 1920s, and this concrete reservoir would serve to store the mass quantities of crude coming in from the oilfields. Unfortunately, concrete has its limits and couldn’t bear the enormous pressure that millions of pounds of oil created. It cracked and left abandoned.
West of the Pecos Museum, Pecos
The West of the Pecos Museum is my last suggestion on this list of attractions near I-20.
This museum not only houses history but is part of history itself. It features two buildings, a two-story red sandstone building constructed in 1896 that used to house a notorious saloon in its heyday, and the historic Orient Hotel, a grand three-story edifice of molded, concrete blocks built in 1904. There are over 50 rooms full of exhibits offering a compressive view of the history and heritage of Pecos. It also provides great insight into life on the frontier.
Do you know of any other roadside attractions along I-20 or have questions about these ones? Let me know in the comments!