Abandoned and active amusement parks, a UFO welcome center and the smallest church in America, indoor skydiving and an African Village. Allow many worlds to collide on your journey along I-95.
Interstate 95, Houlton, ME 04730, USA
Pick up the highway in Maine, at the Northern end of the route.
685 Riverside Dr, Augusta, ME, US
This roadside oddity is a classic. Standing outside Big Boyz Cycles, this giant statue features a mustached man wearing overalls and a stoic expression.
130 Mill Street, Lewiston, ME, US
Hang with the locals of Lewiston, ME at Baxter Brewing. Sample their craft beers (their flagship beer is the Stowaway IPA, but they've been known to use honey blossom, green tea, oyster shells, and more in their brews), take a tour of their operation, or just enjoy a pint, a pretzel, and a game of corn hole. It's a funky, laid-back place to stop while on the road!
138 Congress St, Portland, ME, US
The Portland Observatory was used not to see the stars, but to communicate with ships! It's now a museum, and you can climb to the top to take in views of the harbor. Pro tip: they offer sunset tours during Thursday evenings in the summer!
1 Old Orchard St, Old Orchard Beach, ME, US
Palace Playland is an old-school amusement park right on the ocean! Coasters and thrill rides, as well as kid-friendly rides make this a great place for the whole family. They also have a huge arcade, midway games, food, souvenirs, and a cute, carnival-like atmosphere, right on the boardwalk.
149 Pine St, Danvers, MA, US
Welcome to Danvers, MA, where part of the Salem Witch Trials took place! Rebecca Nurse was convicted of being a witch, and was the only woman to have a public execution for her "crimes." This is where Rebecca Nurse lived, and on-site is the cemetery where, as rumor has it, her son and husband had her body re-buried. Another accused witch, George Jacobs, was buried in that cemetery as well. This historic site also features a re-creation of the Meeting Hall where the Trials themselves took place.
55 Davis Square, Somerville, MA, US
Somerville, MA, just outside Boston, is an artsy little neighborhood, and it just so happens to be home to the Museum of Bad Art. Of course, everything is subjective, but browse what they have on display here and ponder the true meaning of art as you do.
12 Shattuck St, Boston, MA, US
If you keep driving down I-95, you'll hit Boston. Stop off here to explore Beantown! At Harvard's Warren Anatomical Museum, you'll find one of the most insane and famous medical oddities: the skull of Phineas Gage, a construction foreman who had a tamping iron blown straight into his face. He actually survived the accident, but his personality suffered a dramatic shift-- this is what led people to discover the relationship between personality and the brain's frontal lobe.
37 Christie St, Edison, NJ, US
World's largest things are classic roadside attractions to visit on trips, so the world's largest lightbulb (which is 14 feet tall) is a must-see. It actually marks some fascinating and important history: Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb, did much of his work in Menlo Park, and $5 will grant you access to the onsite museum dedicated to the life of the Wizard of Menlo Park.
Pro tip: drive past at night to see it all lit up!
116 South third street, Philadelphia, PA, US
Philadelphia is just off I-95, so hop off the highway and explore a lesser-known gem in this historic city. The First Bank of the United States is pretty old: it operated from 1797-1811, and was established to alleviate debt from the American Revolution. When the charter lapsed in the early 19th century, it was purchased and turned into Girard Bank, which it remained until 1929 when it closed. Then the NPS bought the historic building and has preserved it as an important piece of America's founding! Learn which Founding Fathers supported it, who opposed it, and why it was so controversial on a tour here.
800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD, US
Sure, Monet and Picasso and Warhol did some cool, unique and important stuff... but there's more to art than just The Greats and their paintings. Some artists really think way outside the canvas... and some artists may not even realize that they're making art. But that's exactly what "visionary art" is... things made by people (usually with little to no training) that doesn't follow any rules-- it comes purely from the person, not from any preconceived notion of what "art" is or should be. That means that anyone-- even you-- can be a visionary artist and have your work displayed in a museum! Very prestigious, no?
Baltimore's world-renowned American Visionary Art Museum celebrates visionary art, and gives it not only a place to call "home", but it also educates the public on visionary art, maybe even making people reconsider everything they thought they knew about "art" itself. It was established in 1995 and has been blowing people's minds ever since with their exhibits, events (like the kinetic sculpture race and movie nights), classes, and more.
125 Douglas Street S, Wilson, NC, US
Keep the outsider art vibes going with a stop at Vollis Simpson's Whirligig Park. An enchantingly whimsical wonderland of spinning colors and shapes, it's sure to charm kids and adults alike. Vollis was, by all accounts, an average North Carolina man, until he started crafting his signature found-object whirligigs after he retired. It wasn't long before his field of kinetic sculptures was attracting attention, and even the New York Times has hailed him as a visionary artist.
190 Paraclete Dr, Raeford, NC, US
Add a shot of adrenaline to your road trip with a stop a Paraclete XP Skyventure for some indoor skydiving. Basically, you get to hover on a column of air, suspended above a massive and powerful fan. You know, if case you want to experience flying, but aren't ready to jump out of a plane quite yet.
Highway 301 N, Hamer, SC, US
You'll probably see billboards for South of the Border up and down I-95 before you arrive, so you're going to want to stop by and see what all the buzz is about. South Of The Border is one of those tourist traps that's so delightfully kitschy and campy (and dare I say, tacky?) that it's actually iconic. What started out in 1949 as a beer stand opened by Alan Schafer, conveniently located south of the border between North Carolina's Robeson County, a dry county at the time, and South Carolina, a veritable Promised Land of booze, where the liquor flowed like rivers. Anyways, it proved to be so popular that he was able to open a small motel and start selling cheesy little trinkets-- all Mexican-themed, going along with the "South of the Border" theme. From there, Schafer was able to expand his little beer stand and shop to include restaurants, gas stations, a motel, bars, a small amusement park, an adult entertainment establishment, and more. At its peak, the tourist attraction took up over more than a full square mile, had its own own infrastructure, and featured its own fire department and police force.
Now's its mostly abandoned, with a motel, a campground, some shops, and a few other places to stop off... but this spot is ripe with kitschy photo ops.
US Hwy. 17 South, Darien, GA, US
Is Darien, GA's Smallest Church in America *actually* the smallest? No one can really be sure, but there's no denying that this quaint little chapel is tiny. It's 10 feet by 20 feet and can fit up to 6 respectful worshippers; perfect for a quiet moment of peace before heading back out on the road.
4004 Homestead Rd, Bowman, SC, US
The UFO Welcome Center might just be the weirdest attraction along I-95. Built by one man as a place for extraterrestrials to relax after an intergalactic road trip, you can take a tour of the (probably pretty unstable) inside, or just snap a picture or two outside.
56 Bryant Lane, Sheldon, SC, US
Oyotunji is a sacred Yoruba voodoo village, where the leaders insist that you are leaving the sovereignty of the United States and stepping onto foreign soil. The community of about 50 people live simply, wearing traditional West African garb and selling crafts and herbs. They even have a king!
Tip: tours are $10 a person, and it helps to call ahead.
15794 Whyte Hardee Blvd, Hardeeville, SC, US
Right off I-95 and near some shops and gas stations, you'll find another classic photo op: a pair of massive elephants!
222 E Harris St, Savannah, GA, US
I-95 rolls into Savannah next. One great place to immerse yourself in the rich history of the town is at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The amount of detail in the stained glass, architecture, and art adorning the serene church make a stop here well worth it.
330 Bonaventure Rd, Savannah, GA, US
Savannah also has some very old and very beautiful graveyards. One of the best is Bonaventure Cemetery: you'll find Spanish moss-draped oaks, historic headstones, and some slightly spooky vibes here.
Bowdendale Ave., Jacksonville, FL, US
Another quirky attraction, this 30-foot tall 7UP can is pretty strange. You can ask a worker nicely and they'll let you on the property to get an up-close look at it, or you can just admire it from afar as you pass by.
950 Old Sugar Mill Road, Port Orange, FL, US
Now that you're in Florida, you'll want to soak up some sunshine! Hop out of the car and stroll around the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens and catch some rays as you enjoy the azaleas, camellias, ivies, magnolias, native plants, palms, and succulents, Asian garden, master gardener demonstration area, ferns, and tropical collections.
Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, Titusville, FL, US
Touch a space rock, meet a NASA veteran, walk under the largest rocket ever made, train like an astronaut, watch videos, and tons more. Admission is a little pricey, but it's worth it, especially if you spend the whole day here (which you can easily do!)
14805 SW 216th St, Miami, FL, US
Located on a 30 acre reserve, Monkey Jungle came about thanks to the amazing animal behaviorist Joseph DuMond. In the early 30s, DuMond released six Java monkeys into the South Dade Southern Florida forest, and eventually that small troop became Monkey Jungle, which today has over 400 primates from over 30 difference species... but what sets it apart from any other zoo is that at Monkey Jungle the animals are given space to run free, while the visitors are the ones in cages!
28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL, US
After being left at the altar by his love, Edward Leedskalnin left his home country of Latvia for America. On the way, he was stricken with tuberculosis... but he miraculously recovered, claiming he treated himself with magnets, although he refused to explain how or why. Once he settled in Florida in 1923, he began work on his home-- a massive castle made of coral limestone. And this is where things get really weird: he never left anyone watch him while he worked. All we know of how he built the castle is the report of several teenagers who allege that they saw the 5'0", 100-pound Ed moving massive bricks of stone "like hydrogen balloons", and his claim that he used what he called a "perpetual motion holder". Ed was known to claim that he was able to build it because he had "discovered the secrets of the pyramids"... whatever that means. Regardless of how he built the castle, it's impressive. 1,000 tons of rock have been carved into a two-story castle, assorted furniture (including a throne and 25 rocking chairs), a Polaris telescope, a water well, a fountain, a grill, and statues of stars and planets. The highlight of the estate was the stone rotating gate that, before the mechanism rusted out, moved so smoothly that a child could open it with the push of one finger.
West of Highway 1 near Bahia Honda State Park, Big Pine Key, FL, US
Bahia Honda State Park offers a great view of the Overseas Railroad Bridge, which is easily identifiable, since it's got a gap in it. It was massively expensive to build, and didn't last long before part of it was washed away during a hurricane. It makes for some pretty killer sunset photos, though!
Truman Ave, Key West, FL 33040, USA
I-95 ends in Key West... perfect, since you'll probably need a vacation after all of that driving. Enjoy a cold, tropical drink at Captain Tony's, eat some seafood from B.O.'s Fish Wagon, and drift off to sleep in a cozy, Southern B&B and enjoy yourself!