Novelty roadside architecture is a wonderful thing about the US. Where else can you climb a giant elephant, stumble across a huge coffee pot, or follow the siren call of neon into a local diner? Many years ago, I was on a solo trip out West and stayed two nights in a Wigwam Motel on Route 66, just because.
I like these pieces of Americana partly because I’m obsessed with local color and giant sculptures but also because I detest driving in its modern form. Another monotonous interstate, another exit of Exxons, Burger Kings and Comfort Inns.
A good road trip involves some amount of leaving the highway, unfolding a map or two, and turning off the GPS. That’s how we found the coffee pot: by leaving the PA turnpike at Bedford, PA and riding the old Lincoln Highway for a bit.
Unfortunately, traveling on former thoroughfares isn’t always happy. Old state roads and highways, long since replaced by interstates, are littered with shells of shuttered, family-run motels and gas stations, and the RoadsideAmerica blog even has a category devoted to closings. I literally shed a tear when learning that Richman’s Ice Cream shut down last year; this year’s trip down the shore wasn’t quite the same without a stop there.
So this morning, when relaxing on the porch of the Hotel Macomber, I was excited to see Parade magazine (guilty pleasure) recommend the pursuit of novelty architecture as a summer to-do. They selected a list—everything from the world’s largest pistachio in Alamogordo, NM to a giant pineapple in Baltimore, MD—from RoadsideAmerica.com and told readers to go forth, gawk, and blog.
Below are some of my favorite Americana encounters (more on Flickr). Here’s to bypassing the bypass!