For group tours traversing the West, roadside attractions are a creative way to help travelers break up the monotony of a long drive. Providing opportunities to segment a longer travel day between major hubs creates additional experiences for the group, ultimately increasing the value of the trip. Whether traveling along storied roads like Route 66 or major arteries like Interstate 10, travelers will find a variety of roadside attractions and quirky landmarks on the journey. These iconic sites capture the imagination of travelers and offer a unique story to add to travelers’ diaries.
America’s Main Street
Route 66, the Main Street of America, connects the heartland of the U.S. to the Pacific. Its popularity soared after World War II, thanks to books, songs, and movies, and it is once more on the rise as travelers explore sites and roadside attractions across the country.
Cadillac Ranch is a popular art installation along Route 66 that features a row of half-buried Cadillacs. The cars have been covered with layers of spray paint, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own spray paint to contribute to the ever-changing artwork. Aside from the great photos, it makes for an interactive and creative stop between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Natural wonders dot the landscape, too. The Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is an explorer’s wonderland. The landscape includes unique rock formations, fossils, and Native American heritage sites that can be explored via scenic drives and hiking trails. Located just shy of a two-hour drive from Flagstaff, this national park is a great way to break up a long bus ride.
Roy’s Motel and Cafe in Amboy, California, is one of the final stops on America’s Mother Road. Neon sign enthusiasts will recognize this as one of the most famous signs on Route 66. The sign illuminates at sundown, and groups can arrange to turn on the light as they turn up the fun. A nearby cafe invites travelers to find a seat at the 1950s-era counter and enjoy a custom soda float as they browse binders of photos and other keepsakes.
Icons of I-10
The Thing in Dragoon, Arizona, offers a mix of curiosities that transforms a typical pit stop into a fun stop for tourists. Billboards build the anticipation for this special stop between Tucson and El Paso. Here, all the most famous conspiracies are explained. The Bermuda Triangle? Aliens. The extinction of the dinosaurs? Aliens. The imaginative gallery will certainly spark conversations on the motorcoach.
Enormous dinosaur sculptures are visible from I-10 and make for a fun and unique photo opportunity just west of Palm Springs, California. The Cabazon Dinosaurs have a special place in pop culture—they’ve been featured in cult classics like “The Wizard” and “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” The towering structures are often painted to fit the theme of the holidays. An open-air museum and large picnic area make this a must-visit stop for groups.
The Taste of Travel
Food is an integral part of any road trip, and the open road delivers an unforgettable culinary experience. From the classic “greasy spoon” diners serving mouthwatering burgers and shakes to roadside stands offering local delicacies, the highway offers a full buffet of options between the hub cities. Don’t forget to try a slice of pie at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, claiming the title of “Halfway to Everywhere,” or Miz Zip’s diner in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Written by Michael McLaughlin
Main Image: Cadillac Ranch, Credit: Amarillo Convention & Visitors Bureau