The tourist traps dotting American highways exist solely to collect your cash and send you packing with nothing to show but a tacky keychain. Right? Sure, they’re kitschy and yeah, sometimes they’re a headache, but we’d argue there are a few attractions that are well worth the trip. So pull that RV over, slather on some sunscreen and get ready for a tour of our favorite Americana travel stops.
Coffee Water Towers in Stanton, Iowa
In Stanton, Iowa, two water towers in the shape of a coffee pot and a cup pay homage to the local resident who played Folgers’ Mrs. Olson, the lady who advertised the coffee on television commercials. This pot is in a traditional Scandinavian style.
Muffler Men Across the USA
Pull over and compare heights with “Muffler Men,” the giant fiberglass statues used as advertising for soda fountains, car shops and lumber mills. They are named “Muffler Men” because some of the earliest statues held giant car mufflers. One blogger has tracked nearly 100 Muffler Man finds on his blog, USA Giants.
Pet Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York
A peaceful resting place for Fido, the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is the oldest pet cemetery in the United States. This pet cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and provides a bittersweet stop for weary, pet-loving travelers.
Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee
A required visit for those traveling across the country is Elvis’ Graceland home, an over-the-top tribute for those who love Americana and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Café du Monde in New Orleans, Louisiana
Famous for its cafe au lait and sugared beignets, Café du Monde in New Orleans, Louisiana, is bound to be packed but still well worth a pitstop.
The Integratron in Landers, California
Stay with us on this one. The “Integratron” is a Mid-Century building in Landers, California, constructed by a scientist who believed he had been contacted by a UFO and trained by extra-terrestrials to “rejuvenate” human cells. He erected the building to aid in time travel, healing and meditation. This stop would be a great way to pass the time with your Sci-Fi-loving uncle.
Haunted Tours in San Diego, California
It might seem childish to believe in ghosts, but thousands of tourists every year flock to haunted destinations. We’d check out a walking tour of an historically haunted home like The Whaley House in San Diego. The Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted” named this spot the number one most haunted house in the United States.
Styrofoam Stonehenge in Natural Bridge, Virginia
There are dozens of “Stonehenge” spinoffs across the United States that replicate the famous artifacts in England. We’d stop at a few of them on a cross-country road trip, including “Foamhenge” constructed entirely of Styrofoam in Natural Bridge, Virginia.
Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is known for its family tourist attractions like miniature golf, water slides and go-carts. But step away from the traps and explore the woods. Located in the breathtaking Smoky Mountains, hikes and whitewater rafting are accessible for all experience levels.
Radio City Music Hall in New York, New York
If you’re a New Yorker who works in Midtown, you might hate the swarms of tourists walking between Rockefeller Center and Times Square. Rightfully so, these tourists are taking in the impressive structure that is Radio City Music Hall. In addition to its design splendor, it has hosted hundreds of major musicians and screened more than 700 film openings.
What tourist traps are part of your Americana tour?