While there are plenty of larger-than-life roadside attractions, only a few can truly hold the title of “World’s Largest.” It’s often a lengthy and costly process to become a world-record holder (Guinness outlines the process here), and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be on top for long. But even if an object’s height or weight is eventually eclipsed by something taller or heavier, its outsized proportions are still likely to impress.
Built along popular routes and in small towns across the U.S. to capture the attention of travelers with limited time and money, these 10 former, current, or simply aspirational World’s Largest attractions—one of which is made up of more than 40,000 really small things—prove that sometimes, bigger really is better.
Here are 10 of the best places to brake for big things across the U.S.
1. World’s Largest Pistachio
The World’s Largest Pistachio is not a real pistachio, but the 30-foot-tall green-and-white concrete sculpture in Alamogordo is nutty enough to attract travelers on their way through Albuquerque, Roswell, or Las Cruces, New Mexico. McGinn’s Pistachioland is an 111-acre pistachio farm, vineyard, and souvenir shop billed as “the nuttiest place in New Mexico.”
The big pistachio is dedicated to the ranch’s founder, Thomas McGinn, who died in 2007. A plaque explains: “Tom dreamed big, expected big, and accomplished big things. He would have said this monument is not big enough. His legacy lives on.” After the towering tree nut lures you in, stop and stretch your legs in the extensive gift shop, which sells everything from custom squished pennies to pistachio-printed socks, and, of course, sacks of McGinn’s signature nuts (a sign in the parking lot reads “Parking for nuts only, all others will be cracked”).
2. World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock
Built in 1972, and featured on the cover of The Guinness Book of World Records in 1977, Ohio’s World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock has since been eclipsed by others (the current record holder is a clock in Germany featuring a 330-pound cuckoo bird). The working clock was commissioned for the Alpine Alpa Restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio, but when the restaurant closed in 2009, it was moved to Sugarcreek, a town in the heart of Amish country known as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio.” The 23-foot-tall, brightly-painted clock is located outside at the corner of N. Broadway and E. Main streets; every half hour, a cuckoo bird pops out along with a Swiss polka band and a dancing couple.
3. World’s Largest Ball of Sisal Twine
Started by Frank Stoeber in 1953, the World’s Largest Ball of Sisal Twine has a circumference of 46 feet and weighs 27,017 pounds (as of March 2022). Located 30 miles south of the (oft-disputed) geographic center of the U.S. in Cawker City, Kansas, since 1961, the ball is a constant work in progress, currently comprising more than 8.5 million feet of sisal twine. Visitors wishing to contribute to the record-holding ball can stop in to Cawker City’s newest attraction, Eyegore’s Odditorium and Monster Museum, located just across Lake Drive, for a length of twine and instructions on how to properly contribute to the community landmark.
4. Casey, Illinois
Featuring more than 30 larger-than-life objects (including 12 world-record holders), Casey, Illinois, has fully embraced its reputation as a small town full of big things. Mail a letter from the World’s Largest Mailbox, play 18 holes at the Casey Country Club—home of the World’s Largest Golf Tee—and watch the World’s Largest Barber Pole spin slowly while you get trim at Tina’s Barber Shop on West Main Street. The World’s Largest Rocking Chair is too large to sit in (except in special circumstances), but several of the installations are interactive photo ops, including the big baseball bat and an oversized mouse trap (slip under the metal bar beneath a sign that says, “Help me! I’m trapped in Casey, Illinois”).
5. World’s Largest Miniature Circus
The Ringling campus in Sarasota, Florida, includes museums dedicated to fine art and circus artifacts, a theater, education center, and Ca’ d’Zan, the Venetian Gothic former home of John Ringling, one of several famous Ringling brothers. The circus museum is home to posters, costumes, and props from the Greatest Show on Earth, but the crown jewel of the collection is The Howard Bros. Circus.
Named for its creator, Howard Tibbals, the 3,800-square-foot model of miniatures is staggering in both its sprawling scope and diminutive scale (each three-fourths of an inch equals a foot). The 44,000-piece recreation of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus took Tibbals more than 50 years to construct, and it includes everything you’d expect and more, including billboards, trains, trapeze artists, clowns, ticket booths, elephants, zebras, tigers, and, of course, a big top.
6. World’s Largest Teapot
The World’s Largest Teapot started its life as a wooden root beer barrel advertising Hire’s Root Beer. In 1938, the barrel was sold to William Devon, who then added a spout and handle, and covered it in tin. Reimagined as a teapot, the structure stood in front of Devon’s teapot store selling souvenirs and concessions. After it was abandoned in the 1980s, the 14-foot-high teapot was restored and moved to Chester, West Virginia, in the early ‘90s (just across the border from East Liverpool, Ohio). Despite still advertising candy, hotdogs, and pop, the red-and-white teapot is no longer in operation; its current location—next to the Jennings Randolph Bridge Ramp, at the junction of State Route 2 and U.S. Route 30—isn’t ideal for much more than a quick photo op.
7. World’s Largest Basket
Driving down State Route 16 in Newark, Ohio, it’s hard to miss the former headquarters of the Longaberger basket company. The 9,000-ton basket-shaped building was dreamed up by founder Dave Longaberger and modeled after his company’s best-selling Market Basket. Longaberger died not long after its completion, and his once-billion-dollar company declared bankruptcy and abandoned the basket in 2015.
The 180,000-square-foot, seven-story structure has a surprisingly subdued interior featuring a 30,000-square-foot atrium topped with a glass ceiling and 150-ton handles. For sale intermittently over the past several years, the basket is currently off the market; previous plans had been to possibly convert the space into another corporate headquarters, a boutique hotel, communal offices, or market-rate housing.
8. World’s Largest Operational Frying Pan
There are several frying pans vying for the title of World’s Largest, leading would-be competitors to add hyper-specific qualifiers or spelling quirks to their entries, such as the World’s Largest Nonstick Frying Pan and Iowa’s Largest Fryin’ Pan. Rose Hill, North Carolina, boasts its own variation, the World’s Largest Operational Frying Pan: The 2-ton pan, which has a circumference of 45 feet and a 6-foot handle, can hold 200 gallons of cooking oil.
Built in 1963 by the Ramsey Feed Company, the pan comprises several separate wedges and sits on 40 gas burners. With a cooking capacity of 365 chickens, the pan is used during the North Carolina poultry jubilee as well as for community fundraising events.
9. World’s Largest Czech Egg
Located in Wilson, “The Czech Capital of Kansas,” the 20-foot-tall, 15-foot-wide World’s Largest Czech Egg sits upright under a dedicated pavilion in Ed & LaVange Shiroky Park. The fiberglass egg was built in 2012, painted in a traditional black, red, and yellow Czech pattern by local artist Christine Slechta, and erected in its current location in 2016. Wilson, a tiny town with a population of under 1,000, attracts visitors from all over at the end of July for its annual After Harvest Czech Festival, which features a parade, arts and crafts vendors, and the Miss Kansas Czech/Slovak Queen Pageant.
10. World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant
Several fire hydrants line the square in front of Beaumont’s Fire Museum of Texas, but only one held the title of World’s Largest for 2 years after it was built. Eclipsed by subsequent hydrants in Canada and South Carolina, Beaumont’s black-and-white-spotted big thing was donated to the city in 1999 by the Walt Disney Company to celebrate the re-release of 101 Dalmatians. The 4,500-pound fiberglass-and-steel hydrant was assembled in Anaheim, California, at Disneyland; now qualified as the World’s Largest Working Fire Hydrant, the structure is capable of spraying 1,500 gallons of water a minute.