Roadside America Ratings

Sometimes discovery is not enough. Travelers want to know an oddball sight's relative ranking. The editors at have devised a ratings system visualized with Smiley Face Water Towers, the universal symbol of good times. We rate each attraction according to our particular world-view, where a Muffler Man statue might be more important than a national park, a 2-headed calf more revered than a train museum. But any place we include on has some offbeat merit!

Atlanta, IL water tower.Rating Levels

1 water tower....Mildly Interesting!
Noteworthy; perhaps not enough to slow down if you're en route to better sights.

2 water towers...Worth a Stop!
Interesting enough to visit or take a photo. Most places fall into this level, including places we are yet to be convinced merit a higher rating.

3 water towers...Worth a Detour!
A solid attraction with extra payoff or unintentional comedy.

4 water towers...Major Fun!
A superlative sight, in the upper tier of roadside attractions. "Major Fun" attractions may deliver hours of guffaws, or a single explosive snort of laughter.

5 water towers...The Best!
The highest rating, awarded to the real superstar attractions. An exclusive club.

A variety of attributes factor into each rating. Is the sight on private property, too far from the road? Is the attraction too slick for its own good? Do the diorama mannequins have nightmarish eyes? Ratings are subject to the mood swings of the editors and may change. Some attractions deteriorate over time, but that may actually boost their ratings.