Roadside Attractions of the Midwest

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The Big Duck. Swampy, the World’s Largest Alligator. Big Blue Bear. Orange World.

These are all roadside attractions that I’ve been able to cross off my list in the last few years of United States travel. From Long Island to Florida to Denver, America has no shortage of these wonderfully unique, colorful, and often gigantic monuments. The Midwest happens to be home to an abundance of these roadside sights, so naturally my Minnesota and South Dakota trip planning included a long list of roadside quirkiness. While time did not allow for completion of the entire list, I managed to track down a fair amount of these quintessential American roadtrip attractions.

Large Green Chair

Large Green Chair
480 Smith Ave.
St. Paul, MN

Large Green Chair

World's Largest Stucco Snowman

World’s Largest Stucco Snowman

Staring at a gigantic snowman on an unseasonably warm autumn day felt strange in it’s own right. But perhaps even more strange to me, is the fact that the sculpture has to be distinguished as the largest stucco snowman in the world. Makes me wonder what materials other giant snowman around the world are made of.

This jolly fellow made of snow, er…I mean, concrete stucco, was constructed in 1974 and stands 54 feet in height. He towers over Highway 36, allowing all travelers to take in his awesome splendor.

World’s Largest Stucco Snowman
Margaret St. N. & Centennial Dr.
North St. Paul, MN


World’s Largest Twine Ball by One Man

This unique sight somehow was not originally on my list, but rather recommended to me by my cousin’s husband. While Darwin was slightly out of the way on my drive west to South Dakota, like any roadside attraction lover would, I gladly took the detour to visit the destination of a famous Weird Al Yankovic song. Come on, who wouldn’t?

World’s Largest Twine Ball
1st Street
Darwin, MN

Largest Twine Ball by One Man

Jolly Green Giant Statue, Minnesota

Jolly Green Giant

Ho, ho, ho. Green Giant! Everyone remembers this famous commercial of the tall green man who adorned the can of vegetables we ate as children. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the roadside attraction I wanted to visit the most, there’s just something about a mix of roadside attractions, brand awareness, and childhood nostalgia that makes for the perfect combination.

Standing just over 55 feet tall and weighing 8000 pounds, the Jolly Green Giant marks the mid-point of I-90, America’s longest highway. He also boasts a size 78 shoe and a 48-inch smile. Pretty impressive for the world’s friendliest giant! The small park at the site makes for perfect rest stop with picnic benches and a few fun attractions for the kids.

Jolly Green Giant
1130 Giant Dr.
Blue Earth, MN

Spoonbridge and Cherry

Artist Claes Oldenburg had originally planned to create a Viking ship, but decided instead to make a giant spoon when he visited a General Mills plant in Minnesota and saw an image of Betty Crocker. Now an enduring symbol of Minneapolis, the city is all the better for it.

Unveiled in 1988, Spoonbridge and Cherry is the centerpiece of the 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which displays 40+ other sculptures on the grounds. The gigantic spoon weighs 5,800 pounds and the 1,200 pound cherry sprays water out of its stem.

Spoonbridge & Cherry
1750 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN

Spoonbridge & Cherry

Tiny Church Rest Stop, South Dakota

Tiny Church Rest Stop – Westbound

Weary travelers can find more than physical rest at Mile Marker 301 while traveling west through South Dakota, as rest for the soul lies a short distance behind the pull-off. The Tiny Church can be found on either side of I-90 near White Lake but I found the westbound chapel much more attractive, as it’s the only one of the two that still proudly displays it’s steeple.

The two tiny churches were placed there by the Corsica Christian Reformed Church in nearby Corsica, South Dakota as a way for travelers to sit down and reflect for a while before getting back on the road. Inside the tiny church is a Bible on a small altar, a guest book, and six benches for those who would like to stay awhile. Outside there is a place to leave donations in a locked container.

Tiny Church Rest Stop
Mile Marker 301
White Lake, SD

Giant Prairie Dog, South Dakota

Giant Prairie Dog

I desperately wanted to see a prairie dog while I was in the Midwest, and did I ever! Located at the Ranch Store, just before the entrance to Badlands National Park, stands a giant prairie dog. While this statue is what first beckons travelers to stop, the real draw is what lies behind the store…a colony of real prairie dogs! Clearly well-fed, the prairie dogs are very friendly and only get more friendly if you purchase a 50¢ bag of peanuts to add to their plumpness.


Giant Prairie Dog
The Ranch Store
Hwy 240 Badlands Loop
Cactus Flats, SD

Which Midwest roadside attractions have you had the chance to visit?