News from the offbeat tourist attraction landscape of Roadside America.
Sightings Vol. 12, No. 2 - February 23, 2016

Presidents, Zombies, and Bears...

No way! Something in Sightings just ripped open Dorothy's sing-songy throat!

Angry bear? Maybe. Undead pandemic person? Perhaps. Presidential candidate? Hard to say. All three have been spotted lurking in these parts....

On the plus side, it means even the depths of winter offer unexpected thrills. If you take travel inspiration from Oscar-nominated films, post-apocalyptic TV series, and the quadrennial circus known as the American presidential election, then February 2016 is a winner.


Presidents Quest: Road Trip

Trunkations.We celebrate our favorite quirky presidential attractions on the Presidents Quest. It sounds magical and complicated, but it only requires a sense of humor and our American right to enjoy history endlessly repeating itself. We've already forgotten lessons we should have learned at the JFK Bomb Shelter on Peanut Island, and the William McKinley Coffee Break Monument, and have no idea how Grover Cleveland's Fossilized Wedding Cake might taste. One thing is certain: George Washington needed a dental plan.

We also conducted a thorough vetting of the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library, and although it's a serious place, you can admire portraits of RR in jelly beans or butterfly wings, then crawl through a hole in a fake Berlin Wall.


Centers for Disease Control Museum

Centers for Disease Control Museum.The world's last, best hope against deadly pandemics and the Zombie Apocalypse (if you trust depictions in TV and film) is locked down tight -- except for its public museum. That's right: you can stand mere feet away from Biosafety Level 4 labs holding deadly pathogens and grotesque parasites while you wander exhibits about, well, the same things, actually. Take a selfie next to the god of smallpox.

Men vs. Bears

Men Vs. Bears.The Revenant thrust 19th century bear-puncher and longtime Roadside America hero Hugh Glass into the spotlight, but there were other scraggly, smelly men who battled bears on the frontier, and America erected statues and tributes to honor them. Our Men vs. Bears round-up highlights some favorites. Thanks to their death-defying efforts, your visit is guaranteed to be relatively free of head-to-groin claw wounds.

Men vs. Bears

Mr. O's Oddball War Booty

Oxman's Surplus.Mr. Oxman is gone, but his family-owned Oxman's WWII Museum displays unique exhibits such as Hitler's gold-plated bayonet, and a "Milky Way wrapper found crumpled in a dead German's hand." It fills the front of their military surplus store.

Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Buddy Holly Crash Site.Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper did not turn into zombies on The Day the Music Died, but their rock 'n' roll legacy survived. The Surf Ballroom -- where they played their last gig -- has been preserved, and showcases a number of poignant tragedy relics. Only a few miles away you can visit the farm field crash site and pay respects at its D.I.Y. memorial.


Spotted by Tipsters

Lincoln.Mr. Lincoln, Meet Mr. Lincoln: Giant Abe Lincoln has stood in Kankakee for years, but he may never have crossed paths with himself until this month, when tipster Kevin Wood (a Lincoln interpreter) paid a call. We wish we could take Kevin along on all of our Lincoln road trips, but we have no room for that hat.

Ozzie The Octopus.Ozzie the Octopus: The beloved multi-armed mascots of the Octopus Car Wash chain were removed when the company fizzled in 2015, but owner Jeff Jurkens assures us that the Ozzies are safe and sent us photographic evidence to prove it.

Grave.Grief Under Glass: What do you do if you're guilty of terrible parenting? The mom and dad of Nelson Blocher preserved it forever in marble, then sealed it behind glass in a public cemetery. Frequent contributor Kurt Deion shared the bizarre tale.

Biosphere.Biosphere 2: If you wondered where Matt Damon learned to survive on Mars, it might have been in Biosphere 2 -- if it hadn't been turned into an attraction years before Matt's character was born. Tipster Jimmy G visited anyway, and sent us a nice report.

For more fun discoveries and updates from the road, head over to the Latest Tips.


Attraction News from Roadside America

Giant heart.February can be a slow news month in the roadside universe, but not this year. In Texas, the world's only Piggyback Space Shuttle opened as an attraction, and the Giant Beating Heart was turned on. In Florida, Manatee Lagoon opened, a welcome marriage of industrial wastewater and cuddly nature.

Georgia is now home to America's newest monster museum: Expedition Bigfoot. In Indiana, the long-lost Giant Santa was rediscovered in junkyard and is undergoing repairs; it should be back as a jolly ambassador sometime this year.

And in Kentucky, the venerable Rabbit Hash General Store burned down (and we thank tipster Linda LeGrande for telling us) while at the National Corvette Museum the "Corvette Cave-In!" attraction was going up. Mixing metaphors, we hope that Rabbit Hash can turn its lemons into lemonade, too.

Follow our Twitter news: @roadsideamerica


Enjoy that Leap Day!
The Team

Apps & Tools

Roadside America iPhone app Roadside America for iPhone
11,000+ USA/Canada offbeat attractions, including new research targets, interactive "Near Me" maps.

$2.99 on the App Store (incl. access to 1 region); addtl. regions or "All Access" unlock is optional in-app purchase.
iPhone, iPod touch (iPad compatible)


Roadside Presidents iPhone app

Roadside Presidents App for iPhone
US Presidents, VPs, First Ladies, even dastardly assassins -- visit where they lived, worked, played, died!

$2.99 iPhone, iPod touch, (iPad compatible). Available on the App Store.


Roadside America iPhone app My Sights Route Planner - Save places you read about on Roadside America, create a trip, and then email it to friends or export a .cvs file to upload onto a GPS device (Garmin, TomTom, etc.). Learn more and try it!


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Main image: Bear, Bonnie Springs Ranch, Blue Diamond, NV, with a cameo by Dorothy from Liberal, KS