Doug Kirby with the Doggie Diner head in San Francisco.
Other travelers can have the national parks and famous museums. Doug Kirby—cofounder of the addictive Web site www.roadsideamerica.com—instead seeks out pet cemeteries, two-story outhouses, giant muffler men, and wonky-eyed robots. Kirby's site chronicles offbeat attractions in every state, including a notable bounty of Western oddities.
Q What makes a place worth a stop?
A If it makes us laugh—that's important. We enjoyed the 1880 Cowboy Town in Buffalo Ridge, S.D. It features a robotic Abe Lincoln with his stovepipe hat pulled over his face— apparently his eyes were making children cry. And we like surprises. When we visit a shiny new museum, we'll plan to see it later when things have started to fall apart.
Q Memorable stops lately?
A Salvation Mountain near Niland, Calif. A dreamer named Leonard Knight has elaborately painted this mound of dirt and junk in the middle of the desert. We also liked the mounted head of what's said to be the world's largest Saint Bernard at a saloon in Huntsville, Utah.
Q A hot spot in the West?
A Las Vegas, of course. The Main Street Station casino installed urinals in an authentic section of the Berlin Wall. The miniature Eiffel Tower is interesting. Someone should build a Las Vegas resort that's a miniature version of Las Vegas.
Q Where are you off to next?
A Years ago, we wrote up the giant Paul Bunyan and the "freaky redwood hoohah" at Trees of Mystery near Klamath, Calif. I hope they're as great when I go this summer. Some places make changes. I always think, "No, no, don't. It was better the way it was."
Photography by Gabriela Hasbun
This article was first published in May 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.