Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
September 4, 2020
Like a giant, shiny fishing lure on a cable attached to a construction boom, roadside attractions tempt us out from under our rocks, even in times of danger.
Certainly 2020 has been full of unparalleled danger, starting with the Covid-19 pandemic. International travel lockdowns meant no flitting off to Tuscany or Paris or Bali for the weekend, so the Great American Road Trip seemed destined to enjoy another resurgence. And it did. Yet the fifty states have been a patchwork of discouragement — with shifting safety recommendations and often contradictory rules.
Was it still feasible to hypertour from Los Angeles to New York without quarantining for two weeks at each state border?
Was it safe to order and eat food from a drive-thru window?
Over time, some fears were declared unfounded (or overstated), while others turned out to be much worse, as the pandemic’s effects spread. Mix in erratic news reports, election year politics, social justice protests, and Mother Nature’s bounty of hurricanes and wildfires — and Americans might have stayed home in record numbers (except, of course, those fleeing hurricanes and wildfires).
But then — still keeping in mind the well-being of their families, friends and themselves — millions hit the road. The antidote for uncertainty and existential dread is different for each of us. Spend time with the 50-ft. tall Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN? Yes. Drive through a tree? Yes. Visit a dinosaur park, and wonder how those prehistoric creatures prevailed over adversity? Yes. Okay, we’re answering yes to everything, but you get the idea….
Back in March, the traditional opening of the Spring travel season, we checked in on 49 of our favorite attractions (We lost the 50th somewhere). Thirty-one were closed, with no idea when they would reopen. Now, six months later, we checked the same 49. Only seven were closed.
It’s no surprise to us that many of America’s roadside attractions found a way to weather the summer of Covid-19, through a combination of advance reservations, limited occupancy, social distancing, and mask requirements, often improvised on the fly.
Nearly all public attractions currently post Covid-19 visitor safety information on their websites or Facebook pages. Some require digging to find it, while others are upfront about the rationale for their restrictions. The most detailed we found were on the website for the prudently detail-obsessed House on the Rock. In contrast, Noah’s Ark anchored theirs at the bottom of their FAQ page and blamed them on Kentucky’s governor.
As we head into Fall 2020, we expect attractions will continue to adjust access and hours, and pivot (or close) as required. Online updates and notifications on official attraction websites often lag. If you’re planning a visit soon, we recommend a call, email, or text to them directly to find the most current information. Be patient if you don’t hear back right away. And remember: the most important criterion is for you and your loved ones to be safe.
Status of Select Roadside Attractions
As reported on attraction FB and web pages on September 4, 2020:
|AL||Birmingham||Sloss Furnaces||Reopening Sept. 26|
|AL||Cullman||Ave Maria Grotto||Open with social distancing|
|AL||Huntsville||U.S. Space & Rocket Center||Open with masks|
|AZ||Green Valley||Titan Missile Museum||Closed|
|AZ||Holbrook||Wigwam Village Motel No. 6||Open|
|AZ||Picacho||Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch||Open: social distancing outdoors, masks indoors|
|CA||Felicity||Official Center of the World||Seasonal; reopening Thanksgiving.|
|CA||Klamath||Trees Of Mystery||Open with social distancing|
|CA||Leggett||Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree||Open|
|CA||Piercy||Confusion Hill||Open with masks|
|CA||Santa Cruz||Santa Cruz Mystery Spot||Open with masks|
|CO||Colorado Springs||Dragon Man’s Military Museum||Open|
|FL||Kissimmee||Gator Land||Open with masks|
|FL||Weeki Wachee||Mermaids of Weeki Wachee||Closed|
|GA||Lookout Mountain||Rock City||Open: social distancing outdoors, masks indoors|
|KS||Cawker City||World’s Largest Ball of Twine||Open|
|KS||Lucas||The Garden of Eden||Open with masks|
|KY||Williamstown||Ark Encounter and Creation Museum||Open with masks|
|LA||Abita Springs||Abita Mystery House||Open with masks|
|LA||New Orleans||Mardi Gras World||Open with masks|
|MD||Baltimore||National Great Blacks In Wax Museum||Open with social distancing|
|MD||Silver Spring||National Museum of Health and Medicine||Closed|
|MI||Dearborn||Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation||Open: social distancing outdoors, masks indoors|
|MI||Ishpeming||Da Yoopers Tourist Trap||Open. Sells zany custom face masks.|
|MN||Darwin||Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota||Open|
|MO||Branson||Titanic Museum||Open with masks0|
|MO||St. Joseph||Glore Psychiatric Museum||Open with masks|
|MO||St. Louis||City Museum||Open with masks|
|NE||Minden||Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village||Open|
|NJ||Margate City||Lucy the Elephant||Open with masks|
|NV||Primm||Bonnie and Clyde’s Death Car||Open|
|OH||Wright Patterson AFB||National Museum of the United States Air Force||Open with masks|
|OR||Gold Hill||Oregon Vortex||Open by reservation|
|PA||Philadelphia||Mutter Museum||Open with masks|
|SC||Dillon||South Of The Border||Open|
|TN||Memphis||Graceland||Open with masks|
|TN||Pigeon Forge||Alcatraz East||Open with masks|
|TX||Houston||National Museum of Funeral History||Open with masks|
|UT||Moab||Hole N" The Rock||Open with masks|
|VA||Danville||AAF Tank Museum||Open|
|VA||White Post||Dinosaur Land||Open|
|VT||Shelburne||Shelburne Museum||Open with masks|
|WI||Spring Green||House on the Rock||Open with masks|
|WV||New Vrindaban||Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold||Open with masks|