A Blue Whale and the Joys of Roadside Attractions
It’s not hard to find the Empire State Building. What to see in Washington D.C.? What else, the Smithsonian. And these are wonderful places to visit. Believe me, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing many major tourist attractions around the world. But some of my favorite have been those quirky, out of the way places generally known only to local residents. A few of my favorite discoveries are below, as well as some of my favorite travel apps and web sites for scouting out those unusual sites.
Favorite Road Trip Attractions
The Blue Whale
Six days and 1800 miles into a road trip, we arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tulsa was our turning point before heading back East and a chance to visit with friends. It was here that I realized how much I love giant animal statues. I could visit these in every state.
My realization happened as soon as I set eyes on the blue whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma. It was so big and blue, AND it was climbable! Our climb on the big blue whale was followed by amazing tacos right next door and darn good ice cream. It was the most perfect day. A blue whale! How often do you see something like that?
Read more >> Fun Things to do in Tulsa, OK with Kids
Closer to my home town of Cincinnati, we discovered a castle on the banks of the Little Miami River. We had the castle to ourselves because it’s set in the middle of a residential neighborhood in a little suburb of Cincinnati. The gardens are gorgeous, and the castle even has a dungeon that gave the kids a thrill.
If you’re in the Cincinnati region, a visit to the Loveland Castle and the little town of Loveland are a fun way to spend the day, with bike rentals available to take in the trail along the Little Miami River after your visit to the castle.
A Giant Lobster
Much farther south, on yet another road trip, thanks to a friend’s tip, we found Betsy, the giant lobster in Islamorada, Florida. In front of a very cool little art gallery, the Rain Barrel Sculpture Gallery, we had fun snapping selfies in front of Betsy, then poking around in the art gallery. See? Another giant animal statue: love them.
Travel Apps and Websites for Finding Road Trip Attractions
Out of the many travel apps and websites available, a few are particularly good for locating offbeat sites. I particularly like Roadtrippers. They have a huge amount of material on their website and associated app and are fantastic for identifying unique experiences on the back roads of the U.S.
Their trip planning function is very good. You enter your starting point and destination, and then click which features you’d like to see along your route: hotels, attractions, natural wonders, or weird stuff. Weird stuff, every time for me. For example, a short drive from my home is a giant nutcracker head. Who knew?
Roadside America offers a similar collection of unusual finds. You can search by state or by pre-selected cities for a list of attractions. Plus you can save those that are of the most interest to you for planning a trip. They also offer an app to view and save all their information via your mobile phone.
Best Road Trip Ever
Finally, the Best Road Trip Ever offers an iPhone app that allows you to check out attractions on your route. I especially like their focus on folk art and local restaurants.
May these tips lead you too to a giant animal statue.
You may also enjoy:
- 5 Tips for Rental Car Safety and Sanity
- How to Entertain Your Toddler on a Road Trip
- 4 Travel Apps to Find Kid-Friendly Spots on the Go
- Add Some Nature to Your Road Trip with Views, Rest Areas & Parks
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Andrea is a single mom in Arlington, Virginia with a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Her children took their first trips when they were just four…