Author Shares Favorite Wheelchair-Accessible Roadside Attractions Across America
Quirky roadside attractions are making a comeback, as travelers are hitting the road in droves to recapture that Americana experience. Says Candy Harrington, author of Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers, “Road trips are a popular option for travelers with mobility issues as well, because you can take things at your own pace, and pack along all the equipment that you need. And roadside attractions — many of which are accessible — are a fun way to break up the drive”
With that in mind, here are some of Candy’s favorite wheelchair-accessible roadside attractions across America.
Giant Twine Ball
This massive twine ball weighs an impressive 8.7 tons and stands 11-feet tall. Officially designated as “the world’s largest twine ball wound by one man” by the Guiness book of World Records, this oddity is housed in a kiosk on 1st Street. Just take Highway 12 to Darwin, turn south on 1st Street and look for the water tower. There’s level access to the twine ball, and ramp access up to the adjacent museum.
Located eight miles north of Alamogordo on Highway 54, this giant nut is constructed of five yards of concrete and covered with 35 gallons of paint. It was erected as a tribute to Thomas Michael McGinn, because he dearly loved roadside attractions. After you’ve had a gander at the nut, have a sample of some of the tasty treats in McGinn’s Country Store and the Arena Blanca Winery, located next door. There’s ramp access up to the nut, and level access to the store.
These 10 Cadillacs are planted nose first into the ground, and they are routinely painted with graffiti and even decorated on select holidays. It’s the iconic roadside attraction, and it’s just a short hop off the interstate. There’s just a wide spot on the road to park, but there’s plenty of room. The entrance gate has a 24-inch clearance, but after that there is a six-foot wide hard-packed dirt path out to the cars. And if you can’t manage the walk, you can still a good view from the road.
Giant Lincoln Head
This giant bust of our sixteenth president was erected as a tribute to Henry P. Joy, the first president of the Lincoln Highway Association. It’s easy to find too – just take exit 323 and follow the signs to the rest area. There is accessible parking in back of the bust, with a level pathway around to the front.
This classic Route 66 roadside attraction once welcomed weary travelers to Gallup, but today the welcome sign is gone. The kachina is located at the Greyhound Terminal on Montoya Boulevard. Just take exit 22 from Interstate 40, drive north on Ford Drive, then keep left until you see the statue on the right. There’s plenty of room to park, and a nice level area to get out and take in this beauty.
Originally constructed by “shoe wizard”, Colonel Mahlon M. Haines, this 25-foot tall house is modeled after a work boot. It was placed by the highway, so that everyone who drove by could see this flamboyant advertisement for Haines’ shoe store. It’s appropriately located on Shoehouse Road, off of Highway 462, just west of Hellam. There’s plenty of room to pull out alongside the road and snap a few photos.
Giant Praying Hands
Webb City, Missouri
Sculpted by local artist J.E. Dawson, these giant praying hands are 32-feet tall, and they sit on top of a 40-foot high hill. Let’s just say that you can’t miss them. They are located just outside of town on the south side of Highway 71 at the intersection of Ball Street. There’s plenty of space to park, and a nice level spot to get out and photograph this unusual attraction.
Donald “Cano” Espinoza created this house by nailing wire, hubcaps, grilles and countless beer cans to the outside of his home. It’s located three blocks east of Highway 285, on State Street, between 10th and 11th Streets. And although there’s no access to the interior, there is a wide level spot to pull off and photograph this gem. As an added bonus, there’s also a bathtub Mary across the street.
The original premise of this showplace was to showcase the bounty of the region, so everyone could see how fertile the soil was. To that end they decorated the outside of the building with bushels of corn, rye, oat heads and sour dock. As you can imagine, corn murals don’t do too well in the South Dakota winters, so they put up new murals every year. Accessible parking is available in the adjacent lot, and there is barrier-free access to this one-of-a-kind attraction. It’s kind of fun to see photos of the old murals, and check out the inside of the building too, as it’s also decorated with corn.
Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers includes accurate access descriptions and detailed photographs of over 90 properties across the US. From B&Bs, guest ranches and lakeside cottages, to boutique hotels, rustic cabins and deluxe yurts, you’ll discover access is some very unconventional places. Available from amazon.com, it’s a good choice for seniors, parents with stroller-aged children, Baby Boomers, folks who need to take things a little slower, and anybody who uses a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter.
Candy also blogs about accessible travel at www.barrierfreetravels.com