When traveling throughout the United States, you could run into some strange sights almost anywhere. However, the midwest is home to some of the strangest and you might want to take a road trip to see them in person one day.
From taking a trip to Italy from Illinois and Iowa without boarding a plane to many roadside attractions that lay claim to the "world's largest," you'll find statues, water towers, corn (it is the midwest, after all), and even twine. Let's look at the top 10 roadside attractions in the American midwest.
10 Leaning Tower of Niles - Niles, IL
When stumbling upon the Leaning Tower of Niles, you may have to do a double-take to make sure you really saw what looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa, Italy. While it may look similar, it's nearly half the height of the original that was built in in 1173 AD. This much more modern version also doesn't lean quite so much as the Italian attraction at only 7.5 feet of lean from vertical whereas the original has been measured to lean approximately 15 feet.
You can still take all those tourist photos of you holding up the Leaning Tower of Niles, and even trick your friends on social media into thinking you took a vacation to Italy without them.
9 Sistine Chapel in Spray Paint - Waterloo, IA
Artist Paco Rosic also decided to bring a little bit of Italy to Iowa by painting the ceiling of an Italian restaurant with a replica of the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel that was completed by Michelangelo in 1512. Just as it took Michelangelo 4 long years to paint his masterpiece, it took Rosic the same.
However, Rosic painted his replica using only spray paint. When all the local stores ran out of spray paint due to this monumental project, the company who supplied the paint to the stores reached out to find out why so many cans were being sold. Once they found out about Paco Rosic's endeavor, they provided him with free cans of paint.
8 Carhenge - Alliance, NE
The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX has long been a popular roadside attraction, especially because it is located right off Route 66 and is easy to visit. Carhenge, on the other hand, is quite a distance from the closest highway but it's well worth a visit. Jim Reinders built Carhenge as a tribute to his father but he didn't just bury and stack vehicles any which way he wanted.
Carhenge has the exact same design and proportions as the ancient site in England. Most of the vehicles that were used to construct this massive project were taken from local dumps or were old cars rotting away on farms, giving them a new lease on life.
7 The World's Largest Ball of Twine - Cawker City, KS
This very large ball of twine was started by Frank Stoeber. He began winding all of the scraps of twine that he had laying around into a ball. He handed ownership of the ball of twine over to the city in 1953 and at that time the ball consisted of 1.6 million feet of twine and was 11 feet across. Today it weighs over 9 tons and measures 40 feet around.
Be sure to save all the twine you come across throughout the year so when you attend the annual Twine-a-thon in August, you can add your own twine to the ball, making it bigger and bigger each year ensuring it keeps its Guinness World Record.
6 The World's Largest Ball of Paint - Alexandria, IN
Indiana is home to a very large ball that is still growing every day, just like the ball of twine. However, this ball is the world's largest ball of paint. There have been over 25,000 coats of paint, in all different colors, added to this ball, that originally started as just a baseball. Today, it weighs over 2.5 tons and a new coat of paint is added every day.
If you call ahead to let them know when you will be visiting, you can sign up to add that day's coat of paint, and even receive a certificate with the number of the layer you added.
5 The World's Largest Catsup Bottle - Collinsville, IL
Atop a 100-foot high structure stands a 70-foot tall water tower. In 1949, it had been painted to look like a Brooks Rich & Tangy Catsup bottle as Collinsville was where their headquarters were located.
As of the mid-70s, Brooks no longer operates in the area, but the world's largest catsup bottle still stands. The town celebrates the birthday of the water tower each year with events like the ketchup-covered hot dog-eating contest. Be sure to plan your trip accordingly so you can sing "Happy Birthday" to the world-famous water tower.
4 Iowa's Largest Frying Pan - Brandon, IA
There are many frying pans in the US that are reported to be the largest. The one in Brandon, IA goes home with the prize, however. It weighs over 1,000 pounds and measures 14 feet long. It is estimated that almost 90 pounds of bacon could be cooked in this frying pan or well over 500 eggs.
Since bacon and eggs is definitely a staple breakfast in Iowa, it makes sense that they would create a frying pan large enough to feed the whole town of Brandon.
3 SPAM Museum - Austin, MN
Jay Hormel, of the Hormel Foods company, invented Spam in 1937. The idea was to create a product that tastes good and would sell well, but used the shoulder portion of the meat that was usually discarded. Spam was a hit with its spiced ham flavor but the real sales didn't start coming in until WWII when Spam was sent overseas with troops due to its long shelf-life.
Now, right across from the plant where over 44,000 cans of Spam are produced every hour, you can visit the museum dedicated to Spam. "Spambassadors" guide you through a museum detailing the history of Spam and also show you many artifacts related to it.
2 Leila's Hair Museum - Independence, MO
There aren't many hair museums in the United States. In fact, there is only one of them. Leila's Hair Museum has real locks from the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, and others on display. All the hair adorning the walls and created into masterful works of art is real, human hair.
Leila is a former hairdresser and her passion for designing new styles overtook her and this museum houses many of her personal hair-dos. Once a long-time friend of Ronald Reagan, now Leila's fame comes in the form of hair.
1 Longaberger Basket Headquarters - Newark, OH
The former corporate headquarters of the Longaberger Basket company doesn't look like any other building you've seen. It looks like a real basket that the company designs, manufactures, and sells. The basket is 7 stories tall. It was recently sold to another company after Longaberger Baskets invested over $30 million to have it built. This isn't the only unique building the company has had built for them. There is a 29-foot tall apple bushel located in Frazeysburg as well as a wicker picnic basket that is as large as a house.