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Road ShowsIn search of America's 10 best...


Road Shows

In search of America's 10 best roadside attractions

John Margolies, author of "Fun Along the Road: American Tourist Attractions," has spent nearly a quarter-century touring and photographing America's roadside wonders. So, when American Heritage magazine asked him for a list of the 10 best, he balked. Ten is an awfully small number. But then Margolies buckled down and came up with these in the interest of "geographical diversity":

* Trees of Mystery, Klamath, Calif.: A forest of ancient redwoods guarded by the largest statues of Paul Bunyan and his ox Babe in the United States.

* Parrot Jungle, Miami: Tropical garden that's home to reptiles, deer, orangutans and flocks of macaws and parrots.

* Marineland, south of St. Augustine, Fla.: Originally an underwater movie studio, Marineland today features corps of trained dolphins.

* Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Ga.: 10 acres of rocks and a seven-state view from an outcrop called Lovers' Leap.

* The Paper House, Rickport, Mass.: The entire house, including furniture, is made from newspaper. The walls are 215 pages thick.

* Dinosaur Gardens Prehistorical Zoo, Ossineke, Mich.: Bizarre mix of Christianity and prehistoric life. Crawl inside the belly of the 85-foot-long brontosaurus and you'll find a painting of Jesus.

* Clark's Trading Post, North Woodstock, N.H.: Trained bears slam-dunk hoops, dance and do a balancing act.

* Petersen's Rock Garden, Redmond, Ore.: Four acres of small-scale representations of cities and towns.

* South of the Border, Dillon, S.C.: 350 acres of pure Mexican-themed kitsch.

* Wall Drug, Wall, S.D.: Pharmacy that somehow developed into a 76,000-square-foot operation with its own chapel and cowboy orchestra.


In the two years since Chicago launched its Cows on Parade sidewalk-art exhibit (320 randomly placed, life-size, fiberglass bovines, elaborately decorated), more than 90 other cities have followed suit, including Baltimore. (Charm City has already begun rolling out 55-pound fake fish.)

Not to be outdone, Chicago has corralled artistic animals from 50 U.S. cities (a horse from Lexington, Ky., a dolphin from Key West, Fla., a Buffalo from -- where else? -- Buffalo, N.Y.) and is displaying them in Lincoln Park Zoo. The City Critters will be on display through Sept. 3 (Information: 312-742-2000;

City Critters notwithstanding, the Windy City has moved on to a new outdoor-art theme: Suite Home Chicago. Beginning next month, standard-size fiberglass furniture decorated by local artists will be popping up around town.

A building interest in tours

If architecture is your passion, you might want to build your next vacation with the help of Archetours. The company specializes in small-group trips (10 to 20 people) with architectural themes.

This year's destinations include Berlin, Bilbao, Barcelona, Tuscany and Belgium. Travelers explore not only streets and cultural attractions, but also buildings and their construction and historical context.

For more information, call 800-770-3051 or go to www.

-- Tricia Bishop

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