Offbeat Roadside Attractions

VIA readers nominate their favorite quirky roadside attactions.

Prehistoric Gardens, Port Orford, Ore.

A couple stumbles upon one of the residents at the Prehistoric Gardens in Port Orford, Ore.

BURLINGAME MUSEUM OF PEZ MEMORABILIA Burlingame, Calif.
“You’ve got to get off the highway if you want to see the world’s largest Pez candy dispenser,” says Carol Gilbert of Palo Alto, Calif. “You’ll find all things Pez here—Wizard of Oz sets, major-league baseball sets—and classic toys, too.” (650) 347-2301, burlingamepezmuseum.com.

BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN Marysvale, Utah.
“We love to stop at this gorgeous spot on Highway 89 in central Utah,” says Valorie VanDenBerghe of Murray, Utah. “Children enjoy the small gift shop’s rock candy and other souvenirs.” (435) 326-2000, geology.utah.gov/surveynotes/geosights/candymtn.htm.

DRIVE-THRU TREE PARK Leggett, Calif.
“One of a kind!” writes Amy Rodrigues of San Jose. “You can shop, picnic, and of course drive through a beautiful redwood.” (707) 925-6363, drivethrutree.com.

CRATERS OF THE MOON NATIONAL MONUMENT AND PRESERVE Arco, Idaho.
“Glimpse what the moon’s landscape might look like without leaving your car,” says Rob Lundgren of Meridian, Idaho. “Weird lava formations and cinder cones are visible from highway turnoffs, and on foot you can explore some of the caves.” (208) 527-1335, nps.gov/crmo.

DEVIL’S CHURN Yachats, Ore.
Foamy waves crash against the rocks of this natural chasm, creating impressive spouts and sprays,” says Traci Durell-Khalife of Corvallis, Ore. “Get a bird’s-eye view from the parking lot or walk a trail for a close-up look.” (541) 547-3289, fs.fed.us/r6/siuslaw/recreation/tripplanning/capeperpetua.

FORESTIERE UNDERGROUND GARDENS Fresno, Calif.
“Courtyards and grottoes, Roman arches, stonework, fruit trees, and grapevines—all belowground and bathed in natural light,” says Karen Prudek of Clovis, Calif. “Baldassare Forestiere patterned this amazing place after ancient catacombs in his Sicilian homeland.” (559) 271-0734, undergroundgardens.com.

OCEAN RIDER SEAHORSE FARM Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
“Families can tour the farm and hold live sea horses in their hands,” says Mark Barclay of St. Helena, Calif. “This group is dedicated to the conservation of 30 endangered sea horse species worldwide.” (808) 329-6840, seahorse.com.

THE PREHISTORIC GARDENS Port Orford, Ore.
“It’s hard to miss the Tyrannosaurus rex that greets you in the parking lot,” says Vicki Kissinger of Pollock Pines, Calif. “Along paths inside, you’ll find dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals stalking among rain forest plants as they have since 1955.” (541) 332-4463.

SHOE TREE Middlegate, Nev.
“A visit to this uno≈cial monument to well-flung footwear makes a fun day trip on Highway 50 in western Nevada,” says Bob Gautschi of Carson City, Nev. “It’s near Sand Mountain Recreation Area, the nation’s loneliest phone, and a pony express station.” onlinenevada.org/churchill_county_s_shoe_tree.

TREES OF MYSTERY Klamath, Calif.
“We love the serene natural atmosphere and all the Paul Bunyan lore,” writes Pamela Peters of Fresno, Calif. “Not to mention the strange way trees grow on other trees’ branches.” (800) 638-3389, treesofmystery.net.

Photography by R.C. Hall

This article was first published in May 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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