For someone who doesn’t own a car and who’s points on their license renders them barely insurable, I actually love driving. More specifically, I love road trips. I’ve never done the drive across America pilgrimage, but sometimes it doesn’t take more than a 20 mile radius to find weird shit in your own backyard. After all, those “Weird” guidebooks, made an entire syndicated series out of it. Then again, it really doesn’t take much digging to figure out that New Jersey is totally wack.
America loves its driving culture. That’s why we have stretch Hummer’s instead of affordable and comfortable railway cars. We may not have vineyards and quaint little windmills as you pass by, but we do have countless and adorably pointless roadside attractions. I used to have a Sociology professor in college who was obsessed with traveling to small towns with his wife and staking the place out like it was a cannibal colony in Papa New Guinea. If I didn’t grow up in one, I’d probably be equally fascinated. But every town has a story and some fame to claim. Mine happened to have a museum built by an eccentric historian who collected things like vampire kits and whaling ships before the turn of the century. It may not be a giant rubber band ball, but I loved it nonetheless.
Driving from point A to point B does not have to be a tedious task. Even if you’re headed out into the middle of nowhere to visit family for the holidays, there’s always some fun pit stop to be made. I’m NOT looking at you Cracker Barrel. Roadside America is a domestic traveler’s most trusty sidekick. They’re constantly updating their database of all the weird and wonderful things to see for when you’re not even looking.
Simply type in the city or state you happen to be passing through, and they’ll pull of a list of sights complete with photos, addresses, and the history of each sight. For a New Yorker like me, there is plenty of off-the wall weirdness to be found in the tri-state area. Say for instance, you always wanted to visit the Holy Land, but aren’t quite eligible for that free birthright trip? Head up to Waterbury, Connecticut to see a miniature sized version of Jerusalem at Holy Land USA. While on-lookers used to be able to drive though, after a recent incident, you’re not “technically” allowed inside. But when did a little sneaking around ever stop anyone from checking out an old rundown landmark?
For those of you who own a slightly more sophisticated cellphone than this, Roadside America also offers an iPhone app, which allows you to punch in zipcodes and find nearby sights while on the go. The site comes in handy even when you’re not road-tripping and just looking for something to do in your own city. I don’t make it Red Hook too often, but I was surprised I’d never come across the Ye Nautical Garage or Ralph Balzano’s Marvelous Memorabilia Garage and Informal Mature Men’s Social Club, for short.
So if you ever find yourself driving across middle America or just bored on a Sunday, you know where to look for more weirdness in your life.
Photo Courtesy of: ThisisCT