The Weirdest and Most Worthwhile Roadside Attractions in Texas
Set your GPS for a llama castle, Stonehenge replica and toilet seat museum
If you know one thing about Texas, it’s that it’s big. You’re bound to find plenty to see and do across its more than 268,000 square miles. That includes all the modern trappings of major cities interspersed with rolling hills, vast ranchland and even some mountains. But no road trip is complete without a stop at one of the state’s weird and wonderful roadside attractions. They range from a graffitied Cadillac graveyard and Stonehenge replica to a toilet seat museum inside a beer garden. Hop in the car and set your GPS for these roadside destinations.
ShangriLlama is more than just a great pun. It’s also a 10-acre ranch with an Irish castle and a barn, where the founding family keeps six llamas sporting names like Dalai Llama, Bahama Llama and Barack O’Llama. Stop in for a visit and you can partake in llama lessons to learn about the animals, feed them snacks and then embark on a llama walk, which takes you and the animals on a group stroll through the forest.
This public art installation sits along Route 66 in Amarillo and is a popular stop for road trippers navigating the famed highway. Built in 1974 by a San Francisco art collective called The Ant Farm, it features 10 Cadillacs buried nose-down in the dirt and positioned at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. Over the years, the artists encouraged visitors to interact with the exhibit, and soon it became popular to spray paint the cars — feel free to bring a rattle can and leave your mark on top of thousands of other coats of paint. Take a photo with your artwork, because it won’t last long before someone else paints over it.
Dinosaur Park skips the typical skeletons you see in museums and instead presents three dozen realistic, life-size dinosaurs along a tree-lined trail, from the diminutive Compsognathus to a Diplodocus stretching more than 120 feet from nose to tail. If you want more dinos in your life, you can also check out Dinosaur Valley State Park outside of Fort Worth. There you’ll find campsites, miles of trails and actual dinosaur tracks left in the riverbed.
Barney Smith spent years creating art from toilet seats, eventually opening an exhibit in 1992 with more than 1,400 pieces displayed in his backyard. Just before Smith died in 2019, he sold the museum to the Truck Yard, a sprawling bar and beer garden known for food trucks and live music. Now you can view all that toilet seat art with a beer in hand. Fun fact: The Truck Yard also features an ode to Cadillac Ranch, as a string of old cars are buried nose-down along the path leading to the bar’s entrance.
Why go to Paris, France, when you can go to Paris, Texas? (That’s easy: for the food, culture, history and myriad other reasons.) But if you’re driving through the in-state Paris, be sure to stop and take a picture next to the 65-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. The scale model was constructed in 1993 and, naturally, this one’s wearing a red cowboy hat.
Not to be outdone, the University of Texas Permian Basin built their own piece of Europe in Odessa, constructing a Stonehenge replica in 2004. It features 30,000-pound stones placed in the same configuration as England’s original. But while the real one took more than 1,000 years to complete and no one’s quite sure how humans even moved rocks that large at that point, this version took just six weeks, thanks to modern technology and heavy machinery.
Between 1956 and 1979, Jefferson Davis McKissack built this homage to his favorite citrus fruit in a residential Houston neighborhood. The 3,000-square-foot exhibit was constructed of found objects like wagon wheels, colorful tiles and mannequins, plus concrete, brick and steel, and its carnival-like design includes an oasis, wishing well, pond and odd folk-art displays extolling the virtues of oranges. McKissack’s life’s work is now part of a larger art center dedicated to preserving his legacy, and it’s even listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Plenty of states compete to display the largest ball of twine, but San Antonio stays on theme and holds the Guinness World Record for largest cowboy boots. Measuring more than 35 feet tall, these boots were built by artist Bob “Daddy-O” Wade, first popping up in Washington, D.C. in 1979 before making the move to San Antonio the following year. They’ve been sitting outside the North Star Mall ever since. Visit during the holidays, and the boots glow with thousands of lights.
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