Road-trip: what can’t we miss seeing where you live?

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On the PlayaFor YEARS, my friend and I have joked about planning a full-on cross-country road trip. We’d have a hired RV, bobble heads, nodding dogs, and hula girls on the dashboard, and we’d visit loads of tourist sites across America — you know, the worlds largest pencil museum, the biggest ball of twine, pet cemeteries, shoe trees.

We need must-visit places — we hope they give us the fortitude to plan this trip. No more joking! I’d like the Homies to give us touristing recommendations in their area. What should I come see in your city or state? -Mich

My advice is this: If you visit Nebraska, don’t allow yourself to drive on I-80. That flat, ugly stretch of Interstate gives NE a bad name.

If you have a smartphone, you might also buy the app Roadside America for $2.99. It alerts you to nearby giant balls of twine and gives you information, links, and directions. It was the first app I bought (aww, I’m experiencing nostalgia!)

What have you got to offer, guys? Or rather, what has your state got to offer?

Comments on Road-trip: what can’t we miss seeing where you live?

  1. Little Switzerland, NC, is cute as a button nestled in the mountains. Beaufort, NC, in home to Blackbeard’s shipwreck and home. The ghost tour is awesome. The Asheboro Zoo is touted as one of the best on the east coast. Near the zoo is a private big cat sanctuary you can tour. The NC Natural History Museum has the world’s only discovered fossilized dino heart. High Point has the world’s largest chair and dresser. A tourist trap but fun to take pictures of.

  2. Well I’m from Indiana. And if you’re going to take a roadtrip through the Hoosier state, I recommend waiting until fall. The colors are gorgeous!

    • The fall rocks! And if you’re in southern Indiana the Ethnic Expo in Columbus is always epic. Actually, there’s usually an expo, fair or whatever going on in the fall and those are tons of fun.

    • Oh, now i feel like a bad bad Hoosier. I was going to say “It’s called the ‘Crossroads of America’ for a reason. Cross on through, not much to see”. I’m a jerk. Brown County is gorgeous and Indiana definitely has it’s charms.

      • Don’t feel bad, Katy, I was going to say the same. Brown County is gorgeous, but being from the SOUTHERN part, my suggestion would be to cross the river from Indiana into Louisville, KY. Touristy would be the Louisville Slugger Museum or a glassblowing place called Glassworks. If you stay the night in the area, go to 4th Street Live (it’s an area of restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe and clubs along downtown 4th street). Or The Connection, which is our biggest local gay bar. It’s a pretty lively city with a GORGEOUS waterfront park for leisurely sun bathing and walking time.

    • Also from Indy! If you come during the (usually) hot 90+ summer a trip to Holiday World might be worth the drive down to Santa Claus. Not too expensive, free sunscreen, and free drinks. Waterpark and amusement park with awesome roller coasters. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Also from Indy. Don’t hesitate to stop and check out the cultural trail (bike rentals), the Indianapolis Zoo, The Art Museum, or the awesome districts like Mass Ave or Fountain Square. Indy is a great resting point if you are starting on the east coast making your way west.

  3. For pure kitsch factor, you must see The Thing in Southern Arizona (exit 322 on the I-10). Your admission is only $1 at the gift shop’s cash register – and if you’re disappointed in the end (you won’t be) there’s always a Dairy Queen right next door to make the stop worth it.

    Just don’t go in the summertime.

    • Just went to THE THING last month! It’s totally worth the buck, and yes, we stopped at Dairy Queen too. My husband and I drove past it on our way to (and again coming back from) our honeymoon in San Diego, and kicked ourselves for not going. When a friend suggested going to Tucson for a concert, we said “only if we stop at THE THING!”. It was awesome.

      My father (who also drove to and from San Diego from Albuquerque many times in the seventies) always wanted to stop, but never did. I got him a mug, and he almost cried.

  4. Aw, boo ๐Ÿ™ I fell in love with NE because of I-80. I guess the prairie stretch just calls to me ๐Ÿ˜€ And I love watching the prairie transform into hills, then to bluffs, then to mountains in CO. That big sky is just breathtaking. Love.

    • I-80 in Nebraska almost broke my will to drive ever again. Probably due to all the construction that forced me to get off onto lonely roads going through ghost towns that didn’t have detailed signs showing you where to go to eventually get back on the interstate. ๐Ÿ™

      • My husband and I lost our beloved VW camper (the night after our anniversary) in a rollover accident on I-80 in Wyoming. Totally sucked. We hit ice outside of Wamsutter and off we went. We were one of six vehicles to lose control on that little stretch of road that evening–and those are only the incidents the highway patrol officer knew of. My parents came & picked us up in Wyoming (as we no longer had a vehicle and were headed to their house for Christmas anyway) and I got to see the rest of I-80. Pretty dull stretch of road. And a lot like I-40 through Arizona and New Mexico, except that the colors are different.

  5. South Carolina has LOTS to offer, but the only place I really know of, as a Charlestonian, is the Angel Oak Tree about 20 minutes south of downtown Charleston.

    The tree is guessed to be one of the oldest oak trees known, the age is estimated around 1,500 years old. It is so awe-inspiring to stand in between the branches and wonder who else has sat there – revolutionaries, abolitionists… one of the local residents was a Declaration of Independence signer, and I’ve wondered if maybe he had a picnic with his family under it, or something equally awesome like that.

    It was named for the Angel family that owned it at one point, but there is folklore that former slaves come around and dance around the tree.

    • Downtown Greenville, SC is gorgeous. It has some really cool shops, good restaurants, and a giant creek that runs through it. A suspension bridge spans the creek, connecting a park to downtown proper. The park is gorgeous. In the summer you can wade in the creek and play in fountains. They also (last time I was there) have a bubble tea shop! Yum!

  6. well, being from the gulf, i fell in love with arkansas’ autumn (you know, because it’s an actual season and the leaves turn actual colors here). in general, i’d recommend the ozarks – especially if you’re outdoorsy, but even just for looking at while you drive (just know that some of those roads might be troublesome in an rv!)

    and while you’re in northwest arkansas, check out terra studios! it’s magical. it’s an artist collective/ complete wonderland made by ceramics (etc.) artists. so cool!

  7. If you’re coming through St. Louis, MO (and why wouldn’t you??), you should definitely hit the arch grounds (I-70, Memorial Drive) and take a ride up to the top. Then the City Museum–the most dangerous museum in America.

    • Such a cool museum. I went once with some friends of mine who live in STL, and one of them got pretty badly injured. I want to go back and see the rest of the place, but they won’t go there any more! Dangerous, yes, but also one-of-a-kind awesome.

      • Whenever people complain, my response is more or less “It’s a playground entirely made of concrete and metal, what did you expect?” But it doesn’t make it less amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • In St. Louis, you’ve gotta go to the Botanical Gardens. We went there about a million times growing up! All the museums and the zoo are free too, except the City Museum. In Seattle, where I live now, I haven’t done as much sightseeing as I’d like to. But since I’m from from the Midwest, just living in a place where you can actually go to the beach or have a picnic near a lake or ship canal is pretty awesome.

    • Also, if you keep going down I-55 from St. Louis, you’ll eventually find Ste. Genevieve, Mo (exit 150). It’s a French historic town with old houses from the 1700’s for you to tour, tons of cute B&B’s, lots of nature, a shit ton of wineries (like 5-10), and lots of antique-y shops and things. Good times ๐Ÿ™‚ Tourists love it.

      • Super late, but also this! My family’s from Ste. Gen and I’ve been there a few times, it’s totally gorgeous. In August they have huge festival thing, and outside of town a little ways there’s some Native American burial mounds.

  8. In Nashville, TN, my favorite site is the Parthenon in Centennial Park. Is a full-sized replica of the original in Greece. It was built for a World’s Fair, and it has a giant gold-plated Athena inside! Also, if you like basically any kind of music (but especially country), there is LOTS to hear in Nashville.

  9. Even though I am living in Vancouver, BC you must go to my home state of Wisconsin! In the town I grew up we have a great brewery tour (Leininkugel their website then you must travel to the north and see Hayward Wiscconsin. Coop’s Pizza is to die, and the city has the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame that is centered around the worlds largest fiberglass sculpture that is also the worlds largest fish, its a Muskie!
    Wisconsin Dells in the center of the state has the most of the goofy roadside attractions. Along with indoor and out door water parks. You have to go to Noah’s Ark, its has some of the best water thrill rides including Scorpion’s Tail that takes you upside down.
    Oh gosh, I could go on and on about Wisconsin. Doesn’t help that I’m a little homesick ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m like the opposite, I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, and live in Toronto now, but spent the last two years living in Wisconsin…

      So if you’re passing between Milwaukee and Chicago, you have to hit up downtown Racine for a day! It’s pretty ghetto until you hit Main Street, but I miss the downtown area so much. Eat a Kringle from O&H (, and check out the (free!) heritage museum (…Mitchell cars, Insinkerators, the baseball team from A League of Our Own, and Laurel Clark (one of the astronauts from the Columbia diaster) all came from Racine, there’s a display about the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in the area, and they also have a whole floor of underground railroad history! Hit up Salute for pizza ( and the Sugar Shack for ice cream desert. Take a walk along the lakefront before you head either north to Milwaukee or south to Chicago! Milwaukee river walk is kind of cool, there’s tons of bars and breweries, and a statue of the Fonz from Happy Days. And Chicago is probably my favourite major US city.

    • yes and yes on wisconsin! YOU MUST stop in madison (the capitol) on a saturday morning and visit the farmers’ market. largest producers-only market in the country, it circles the whole square around the capitol building. go to the bakery on the corner of mifflin and wisconsin and get a donut the size of your face, and if it’s apple season (september – november), go to ela’s orchard’s stand on carroll street and taste the best sweet cider you’ve ever had. =)

      • And take a tour of the capitol building (which is finally open again without security). We have a spectacular capitol building with free tours and no security hassles (just walk in).

      • Wisconsin is also home to the *amazing* Mustard Museum. It was in Mt Horeb (which is adorable and has large, carved wooden trolls all over town), but is now in the Madison area. Love that place!!

  10. I probably don’t have to tell you that there are a whole mess of Country Music clubs in Nashville. But since those aren’t really my speed, I’ll let you know how I would tour my town. I would wake up early in the morning to get in line for the Pancake Pantry, and enjoy a fabulous breakfast there. After that, I would hop over to Centennial park, and walk around for a little while enjoying the scenery before entering the Parthenon, and touring the museum inside.

    After that, I might be feeling a bit peckish again. You remembered to pick up a picnic lunch from Bar-B-Cutie, right? Good; find a nice shady spot in the park, perhaps in one of the picnic pavilions, or even just out on the grass, and enjoy!

    After this, I think it’s time to spend some time indoors. If I had children (or even without, since I’m just a big kid inside), I’d go to the Adventure Science Center. Not the biggest or best Science Museum in the nation, by far, but the Planetarium is nice, and it’s right up my alley.

    After this, I would probably make the half an hour drive down to Franklin, TN, and spend some time antique shopping and looking at the historic buildings. The Factory is a refurbished factory turned mall, filled with boutique shops, restaurants, and classrooms. It’s definitely worth a look, while you’re down there. While you’re in there, try some dinner at Saffire. The atmosphere is nice, and the food is yummy. Though, if you’re craving more Southern goodness and family friendly atmosphere, I’ve heard that Stoveworks is really good.

    After dinner, you might check out a show at the Boiler Room theater, or take a Ghost tour of downtown Franklin. It’s up to you and what you like to do. And if you really wanted, I suppose you could go to some country clubs, too. Hahah. Enjoy your stay in Nashville.

    • Things that get overlooked in Nashville:

      Fannie Mae Dees Park aka the Dragon Park – there’s a large mosaic dragon sculpture that you/your kids can sit and play on. It’s probably my favorite park in Nashville.

      Fort Negley – located behind the Adventure Science Musuem, Fort Negley was once a Civil War fort, and if you are into history, there are some awesome information panels about the site. If you’re not so into history, this a beautiful walk up the hill with some nice views once you hit the top. It’s also free ๐Ÿ™‚

      McKay bookstore – This is absolutely the best thing to do in Nashville. McKays is a used book/cd/dvd/videogame store. It is huge and so unbelievably awesome.

      And if you happen to be over at Centennial Park, walk a couple of blocks over to Cafe Coco . They’re open 24 hours, on the weekends they have live music, the food and the atmosphere are awesome. Then walk down to Elliston Place and check out the second hand clothing shops, the hookah lounge, see who’s playing at the Exit/In and then get a soda from the historic Elliston Place Soda Shop.

  11. Memphis, TN – unless you are an Elvis freak, skip Graceland. No, really. The crowds are crazy, you only see about a third of the house, and it’s crazy expensive in my opinion. I’ve gone twice, once with an aunt who’s an Elvis fan, and once with a boyfriend who “had” to do it. They both thought it sucked. And it smells.

    Now the good stuff – Memphis is all about music, so must-sees are Sun Studios, Stax, Beale Street (ALWAYS live music down there, EVERY night), and Memphis Rock and Soul Museum. It’s also a HUGE part of the US African-American Civil Rights Movement, and has deep roots in slavery, so National Civil Rights Museum and Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum. And FOOD! Brother Juniper’s, Gus’s Fried Chicken, at least one GOOD barbecue place (if you are veggie traveling with a meat-eater, go to Central BBQ – they have a good portobello mushroom sandwich I’m told) (and please don’t waste your money on Corky’s BBQ, please, for my sake, just don’t do it – even Rendezvous is better), and Wiles-Smith Drug Store (a real old-fashioned drug store – with malts!). If you are vegetarian, it’s a bit more difficult, but again, Brother Juniper’s (really good tofu scrambles), Imagine (vegan), Smooth Moves/Balewa’s (he makes his own veggie burgers – SO good!). Most restaurants can do something veggie, but vegan is more difficult, but not impossible. Check the Vegan Crunk blog for more.

  12. In Kansas City, MO, we are all about the Jazz and BBQ. Check out the historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine. And for BBQ, go to Oklahoma Joes, the best BBQ you will find in a gas station, at 47th and Mission Rd. in Mission, KS.

    • Tangential to KC, I’d recommend driving through the Flint Hills area; we used to live in Manhattan and the area is so~ pretty. It definitely puts that whole “Kansas is flat!” thing it’s place.

      Until you leave NE Kansas. Then it’s kinda true again.

      (And oh god yes, KC BBQ.)

      • I grew up in southeast Kansas…it is way pretty too! In October, the week of Halloween there is a huge street fair/carnival/craft show/beauty pageant/ chili cook off/ high school band competition….not that I’m already looking forward to leaving Vegas for it…. ( Ahem.

        • Ooh, my bad! I’ve never been south, except one midnight trip to Wichita where the driver took what was apparently a back road. All I remember is getting a sunburn at the renn fest the next morning.

          I have, however, taken I-70 west to Colorado. NEVER AGAIN. I love Kansas, but between Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado we ran out of items during I-Spy.

  13. I live in teeny Tiny DeKalb IL. We’re the birth place of Barbed Wire, and you can see the factory and the homes of the people who invented it. The Ellwood house is pretty.
    But for my money, I would wait until fall and go see a show at the Egyptian Theater. It’s our very old historical theater, from back when DeKalb looked like it was going to be Chicago #2. Tickets and concessions are cheap, and if you check their online calender you can catch a showing of the Rocky Horror Picture show, complete with actors and audience participation. JFK made a speech at the Egyptian. While you’re on that street, stop at the House Cafe and get a drink. There’s no describing the House, other than the minute you walk in you know it’s where the art students have spent every decade.

    • Whoa! I lived in DeKalb for about 10 years and was scrolling down to write a comment about it. Crazy. Definitely 2nd the Ellwood house/museum [especially awesome near Christmas!] and Egyptian recommendations. There have also been a bunch of neat antique/vintage shops that have popped up downtown over the last few years.
      Also, if you’re in this region of the midwest, it’d also be a crime not to take time to see the House on the Rock up in Wisconsin. Happy trails!

    • Wow, I’d never heard of a Creationist Museum, but according to Wikipedia there are over 20 in the US alone! A Moonbow sounds gorgeous!

  14. Savannah, GA, on the coast, has a lot to offer for being a small city, though it would be out of the way on a road trip. It has ghost tours, walking drinking tours, and beaches nearby- as well as being home to one of the best art schools in the country. The place is to die for beautiful.

    • We took our honeymoon in Savannah and loved it! The food was amazing, the town was walkable, and you can order your drink to go and enjoy it as you stroll. As the other poster said, it’s a beautiful city. So many trees!

    • Savannah is fantastic. Downtown is very touristy. The Southside shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve lived here for about three years and I would rather spend a Saturday afternoon on the Southside any day. Armstrong Atlantic State University has an excellent theatre program that produces 10-12 shows a year and the base price is $10 a ticket. SCAD is downtown and has nice art and things, but I recommend the Armstrong Masquers Theatre Troupe for live performance. The original 3D movie!

      Then of course there’s Tybee Island. And if you’re making the trip all the way to Savannah, you might as well take the extra 30 minutes to Tybee. I highly recommend going the weekend BEFORE Memorial Day. The Annual Beach Bum Parade is that Saturday. Locals to Savannah and Tybee spend the day in an island-wide water fight. There are buckets, hoses, and water guns everywhere. Then around 6 PM the Beach Bum Parade starts. Normal parade with floats? Could be. Until you realize that everyone on the floats has just as many water weapons as you! Island-wide water gun fight with everyone, including the parade. It’s what made me so happy to be living here.

  15. Philadelphia on a Friday:
    Breakfast/brunch at Honey’s Sit N Eat (; Free At Noon concert at World Cafe Live (every Friday, sign up for tix at; head down to Rittenhouse Square and grab some lunch from a food truck to sit and eat or browse the shops on Chestnut St (or visit the Reading Terminal Market for a smorgasbord of lunch options –; dinner at South Philly Tap Room ( if you want to watch the Phillies game on TV or at Monk’s Cafe ( if you fancy amazing beers and the best mussels and pommes frites in the city.

    Philly is such a great city – I can’t talk about it enough. I love playing tour guide. It’s a great city to spend a weekend in because it’s relatively small and you can see a lot over the course of 2 or 3 days. It also has (I feel) the best beer scene in the nation.

    • I love Philly! But I also work here, so maybe I’m biased.

      I’d definitely recommend a trip to Reading Terminal. It’s an obvious tourist stop, but it does have some really good food. And Basset’s ice cream! Definitely try Guatemalan Ripple, and get the backstory-the best morning DJs I’ve ever heard are in Philly, and it’s a joke from their radio show.

      And then there’s the history in Old City. So very cool if you like history, just roaming around and passing 200yr old townhomes and churches.

      But if you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, check out the Mutter Museum. Not for those with a weak stomach, though….

    • Heck yes! When it comes to AMAZING beer bars, Philly rocks — there’s sooo many good ones (Good Dog, Varga’s, POPE, Devils Den, Devils Alley, Standard Tap…YUM).

      First Fridays are awesome; so’s the Kimmel Center (you can get really cheap tickets at the last minute, and the inside looks like a violin! :D)

  16. Houston TX has the National Museum of Funeral History. Admission $10.00, open 7 days a week. The gift shop even sells chocolate caskets and coffins, about $3.25 each. Very interesting if you are into that sort of thing.

    And if you like Jimmy Buffett, his sister Lucy has Lulu’s on Highway 98 in Gulf Shores AL. Very family friendly, local artist oriented, and just an all around fun place to be.

    Enjoy your trip!

    • Oh, and in Pensacola FL, downtown there’s McGuire’s Pub. They brew their own ale and have a cup of lentil soup for 19 cents, but only if you order it with a meal, otherwise it’s in the $7.95 range if I remember correctly. Hey, everyone has a gimmick! Then you write your name on a dollar bill and staple it to the wall or ceiling or wherever you can find a space!

  17. Zelienople, PA (30 miles N of Pittsburgh)has an adorable little candy store called Baldinger’s. It has a penny table, a bunch of old style candy and local made choclates.

    • I was going to suggest the Spoon and Cherry sculpture in Minneapolis. Its in a huge sculpture garden right on the edge of downtown. And if you come through MN you have to check out the Spam Museum just south of the Twin Cities, I can’t remember what town it is in though.

  18. If you come through northern Nevada you have to go to Virginia City. The sidewalks are all old fashioned covered boardwalks dating back to the 1860’s mining heydays. There are several mine tours you can take as well as a lot of old Victorian mansions and buildings. Between Carson City and Dayton there is Mound House where all the Cat Houses are and I don’t mean the feline varity. It is worth it to stop and take pictures of some of the signs, and if you ring the buzzer and ask to take a picture with a couple of the girls, you might get lucky (pun intended)!
    Also Lake Tahoe is beautiful any time of the year and it is America’s second deepest lake.
    If you come in late summer, Burning Man is at the end of August in the Black Rock Desert. Good luck with your planing.

  19. The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is beautiful. It is an amazing sight and then you can go to the Trading Post and eat a buffalo burger(they’re nummy!) and buy some beautiful aspen leaf jewelry or a piece of Native American art.

    • I love Garden of the Gods! It is the place I take anyone visiting Colorado Springs. After eating at the Trading Post, we head into Manitou to the Penny Arcade.

  20. Geez, it’s hard to start on Mass. There’s LOADS to see, especially if you’re even remotely into history. Concord, Lexington. Boston, where I live, is a destination unto itself. Our wedsite crash course:, I’m also very fond of Gloucester and Hammond Castle.

    And come in mid-October, when the leaves are at their prettiest! But make sure to book hotels, if necessary, well in advance.

  21. I just did a 3 week cross country road trip, and two highlights were the Treehouse in Crossville, Tennessee, and the Arizona Sonoma Desert Museum outside of Tucson. The treehouse is this amazing and scary 10 story structure hiding down a dirt road and covered with religious memorabilia. There are no trespassing signs to ward off vandals, but it has a parking lot and picnic tables and stuff. The Desert Museum is like a zoo and museum in one, and you hike about a half mile out into the desert on the designated path and see animals and vegitation (in a totally safe way). Both places were amazing.

    • More love for the Desert Museum. We were in Tucson for just a day, and it was a beautiful way to spend it. It was 102 degrees (we’re used to it, New Mexico gets pretty hot, but it was May), so take lots of water and sunscreen, and take a camera with a good Macro lens!

  22. Ah, Kentucky. The scenic byways are very scenic, if that’s why you’re traveling. If you have a sense of humor, there’s always the Creation Museum– I don’t know a single person who hasn’t visited just to take pictures with the dinosaurs. There’s Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest known cave system. Berea is a small town with a large crafts movement. Lexington has a small but very good horse racing museum.
    In Louisville one of the best things is the food. Yes, you can get traditional southern stuff or variations on it (Lynn’s Paradise Cafe), but there are all sorts of very good restraunts where you can get delicious meals for affordable prices.
    In terms of things to see, there’s a lot. The Louisville Slugger museum, the Thomas Edison house, the American Printing House for the Blind, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Muhammad Ali museum. For those interested in arts/crafts there are places like Glassworks and the Little Loomhouse. The city has a large system of Olmstead parks and a nice historical district. Right across the river is the Falls of the Ohio’s fossil beds.
    If you time your visit right there’s the St. James Art Show, the Humana Festival of New Plays, or Thunder over Louisville (largest annual fireworks display in North America).

  23. I’m from MT so I can highly recommend all of our natural wonders. Glacier National Park is a tourist obvious. But even better is The Lumberjack Saloon in Lolo, MT. Is a log bar in the middle of the woods that is amazing. They have great food and good drinks and its really what a good Montana bar is all about.

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