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Pandemic Post-Summer: Roadside Attractions Status

World's Largest Fish, Hayward, Wisconsin - open for business.

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.

U.S. Army Chemical Corps Museum - closed.

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….

Long-closed Marx Toy Museum - still closed.

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.

Ritual sacrifice scene.

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:

State Town Attraction Status
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 Dragoon The Thing Open
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 Niland Salvation Mountain Closed
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 Homestead Coral Castle Closed
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
SD Wall Wall Drug Open
TN Memphis Graceland Open with masks
TN Pigeon Forge Alcatraz East Open with masks
TX Amarillo Cadillac Ranch Open
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

Sections: Attraction News, Roadside News, Trends 1 Comment »

One Response to “Pandemic Post-Summer: Roadside Attractions Status”

  1. Mike Gassmann Says:
    September 8th, 2020 at 10:52 am

    IL – Benton – Historic Jail Museum – Closed
    IL – Metropolis – Super Museum – Open, no masks required.

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