Don’t Miss These Quirky Roadside Destinations
Looking for cool things to see on the road without leaving your car? Quirky, odd, bizarre, call them what you will. Check out the following unique destinations across Washington and Idaho. You may find one within a short drive from your home or be inspired to plan a future road trip.
World’s Largest Frying Pan, Long Beach
In 1941, Long Beach promoters needed a giant frying pan to fry a 9-foot clam fritter for the town’s first annual clam festival. A 1,300-pound iron pan 10 feet wide and 20 feet tall fit the bill and was, for a time, the world’s largest frying pan. The local icon, refurbished with its original handle and fiberglass pan, now hangs in downtown Long Beach alongside a giant razor clam that squirts on the hour or on demand for a quarter.
Hat ’n’ Boots, Seattle
With its 44-foot-wide cowboy hat and 22-foot-high boots, Seattle’s Hat ’n’ Boots gas station was a big draw on state Route 99 in the 1950s and ’60s. Sadly, the station fell into disrepair once a new highway, Interstate 5, sent most motorists in a different direction. But local artists came to the rescue, and now the refurbished hat and both boots can be seen in Oxbow Park in Georgetown.
Oxbow Park Boots. From Seattle.gov
The World’s Largest Oyster, South Bend
Known as the “Oyster Capital Of The World,” South Bend near Washington’s coast has erected a disk-shaped concrete statue of an oyster shell. Labeled the world’s largest oyster, it’s about a meter and a half in size, and sits on a pedestal overlooking the Willapa River in Robert Bush Memorial Park. Imagine the value of the pearl that was inside that baby!
Running Fish Statues, Clallam Bay and Sekiu
Where would you find a fish in green shorts and blue running shoes? In Clallam Bay, of course. Standing in the parking lot of the town grocery store is Gil. Well, why wouldn’t he be? A giant fish in green shorts and running shoes is what you’d expect to see when pulling in to do a bit of shopping, isn’t it?
Five minutes along state Route 112 in Sekiu you will find another such statue. Rosie, a salmon dressed in a pink bikini top, skirt and running shoes, welcomes you to her hometown. Rosie was erected in response to Gil. Or maybe the two fish are friends (perhaps more?) who were once separated and are now on a never-ending quest to find each another.
Rosie, the running salmon in Sekiu. From Flickr
Bob’s Java Jive, Tacoma
You’ve drunk from a coffee pot, but how about drinking in a coffee pot? Originally called the Coffee Pot Restaurant, the name changed to Java Jive in 1955 after a change of ownership. The venue was transformed into a Polynesian style music club and was even home to two chimpanzees called Java and Jive. The chimps are no longer there but the atmosphere is. Grab a burger, down a beer, sing karaoke. What more do you want?
Teapot Dome Service Station, Zillah
Built in 1922 by a local gas station owner as a comment on the Teapot Dome federal oil field scandal that marked President Warren G. Harding’s administration, Zillah’s teapot-shaped gas station is on the National Historic Register. Shuttered for many years out on Interstate 82 between Zillah and Sunnyside, the structure was moved, lovingly restored and is now the visitor center in downtown Zillah.
Zillah Teapot Dome Gas Station. From Yakima Family Tourism
World’s Largest Radio Flyer Wagon, Spokane
Created in 1989 by artist Ken Spiering, the 26-ton steel and reinforced concrete “Childhood Express” is also the World’s Largest Radio Flyer wagon. It sits in Spokane’s Riverfront Park and is 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide and 27 feet long. The photogenic roadside attraction is not just for show. The wagon is a play structure with a wagon bed that can hold 300, a slide in the handle and monkey bars below.
Dinosaur sculptures have been popping up in Granger since 1994, and 33 dinosaurs now dot the town. Visitors can see them all by starting at Hisey Park and following the town’s Dinosaur Drive that passes by prehistoric portrayals of spinosaurus, brontosaurus, velociraptors and more.
A Spinosaurus in Granger. From Granger Chamber of Commerce
Giant Potato, Blackfoot
Blackfoot County grows more potatoes than any U.S. county, and the city of Blackfoot is the self-declared Potato Capital of the World. The starchy tuber is celebrated at the Idaho Potato Museum, which has a hard-to-miss giant potato outside. Museum staff describe the big spud as 20 feet long and 10.5 feet high from the butter pat to the bottom.
Giant Stump, Arlington
In 1939, the tunneled stump of a giant red cedar tree was placed alongside state Route 99 and became a popular drive-through attraction. In 1917, the stump was moved to the Smokey Point rest area on the east (northbound) side of I-5, between Marysville and Arlington, and is now a walk-through-only attraction.
The giant stump near Arlington/Photo is courtesy of Seattle NorthCountry.
World’s Largest Egg, Winlock
In the early 1920s, so many eggs and chicks from Lewis County farms were shipped out from the railroad dock in Winlock that the town became known as the Egg Capital of the World. To honor that heritage, Winlock holds an egg festival each June and, year-round, tends to the “World’s Largest Egg” on its pedestal downtown.
City of Murals, Toppenish
Since 1989, Toppenish has been inviting artists to transform boring, blank outdoor walls into murals accurately portraying scenes from local culture and history dating between the 1840s and the 1940s. A new mural is added each year during the Mural-in-a-Day event (usually the first Saturday in June), and now close to 80 murals grace the walls of the City of Murals.
Toppenish Murals. From Yakima Valley Tourism
World’s Only Captive Geyser, Soda Springs
Once a stopping point on the Oregon Trail, a modern-day major attraction in Soda Springs is the man-made geyser created in 1937 when entrepreneurs drilling for hot water for a commercial bathhouse hit a gas chamber underground. The cooled and capped gusher is now part of Geyser Park. It is controlled by a timer and erupts on the hour.
Troll Under A Bridge, Fremont
Reports of sightings of trolls underneath the Aurora Bridge in the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont have circulated ever since the bridge was completed in 1932. The obvious thing to do, then, was to build one. In 1989, sculptor Steve Badanes designed the troll, inspired by the Norwegian fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff. Made of concrete, the troll is 18 feet tall with a shiny metal eye, and is crushing a Volkswagen Beetle with his left hand.
Fremont Troll. From Adobe Stock Images
Yard Birds, Chehalis
In Chehalis stands a giant Yard Bird statue, greeting shoppers to the last remaining Yard Birds Mall, which was once a thriving local chain of malls during its heyday in the 1970s. About 30 feet tall and 60 feet long and carrying a baby Yard Bird on its side, the bird remains a beloved local landmark and bizarre photo opportunity for tourists.
Beagle-Shaped B&B, Cottonwood
The beagle-shaped Dog Bark Park Inn is a unique bed and breakfast (with an artist studio and gift shop) that’s easy to spot from way down the road in Cottonwood. In addition to being the home of the “World’s Biggest Beagle,” there are several other oversize structures on the property, including a fire hydrant with a porta-potty inside.
Paul Bunyan statue in St. Maries/By Ricia Lasso
Paul Bunyan Statue, St. Maries
Paul Bunyan is celebrated in a big way in the small town of St. Maries. The three-day Paul Bunyan Days celebration, with logging competitions, carnival rides and more, occurs each Labor Day weekend. And a giant statue of a Paul Bunyan–like lumberjack stands guard in front of the town’s Heyburn Elementary school year-round.
A Big Spud, Driggs
Built in 1953, the classic and currently operating Spud Drive-in movie theater in the Teton Valley town of Driggs advertises its playful potato theme with, among other things, a giant potato that fills the bed of a flatbed truck out front.
So there it is. Our list of unusual sites to see from a car is complete. These are but a few curious roadside attractions in the Pacific Northwest. If you happen to discover any others, please let us know.
–Written by Harriet Baskas and Nick Brown
This story originally was posted in May 2020. It was updated in November 2021.
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