6 Types of Roadside Attractions That Will Get You Noticed

Having unique roadside attractions and landmarks can be a simple solution to support your town’s marketing efforts, but how does one decide what to create as their main piece? After all, with the investment going into this project, you want to make sure it’s not only a unique piece that stands out but one that resonates with your community.

Luckily, there are lots of different types of attractions to pick from to help inspire your decision. From giant sculptures to highlighting natural wonders, this list can help show the benefits of each type and make you one step closer to getting your town on the map.

Let’s check out the varying types of attractions that your town may be interested in creating.

1. Giant Statues and Sculptures

Giant, larger-than-life statues can be an eye-catching and noticeable choice to attract tourists to visit your community. These sculptures can be anything from animals to people to plants and objects that are related to or can be found within your community.

Giant pines cones at the center of a town.

Creating a giant sculpture that represents your community can enhance its identity and provide a focal point for its values. Whether your town has a strong connection to an industry such as mining or forestry, local flora & fauna, cultural heritage, or historical figure, a sculpture that embodies these elements can promote local pride and draw visitors to explore your town’s unique character.

For example, imagine creating a larger-than-life sculpture of the majestic Bald Eagle, which is the national bird of the United States and can be found in many states. This iconic bird of prey symbolizes freedom, strength, and independence, making it a perfect inspiration for a landmark sculpture that embodies a town’s spirit. The landmark sculpture could be designed to be educational as well. Visitors could learn about the history and significance of the Bald Eagle, as well as the importance of preserving its habitat and the natural environment.

Large, exterior walrus sculpture on the roof top of a pediatric dental office.
Large, exterior walrus sculpture.

They are a great boost for local businesses as well. For example, dinosaurs have become a beloved symbol that captures our fascination with prehistoric times, and are an obvious choice for a giant landmark owing to their larger-than-life stature. Any region that is rich in prehistoric features can leverage this popular attraction by installing a giant dinosaur landmark that is sure to captivate tourists, leading them to explore local museums, fossil shops, and dino-themed restaurants.

Exterior shot of business with a giant red and blue dinosaur landmark character on the roof.

Having a giant version of an item you least expect can be a unique way to entice travelers to take a rest stop in your town. A simple “Have you seen the giant potato peeler?” can be an easy and simple conversation starter that can lead back to you and your community.

Overall, a giant sculpture that represents the local community can be an excellent way to amplify and grow the town’s identity while serving as a focal point for the community’s values and history. By highlighting the unique aspects of the town or region, it can also help to attract visitors who are interested in learning more about the area’s culture, heritage, and industry.

2. Natural Wonders

Naturally occurring roadside attractions can be a fascinating sight for travelers and tourists alike. These attractions are often created by natural forces over thousands or even millions of years, and can provide a glimpse into the history and geology of the surrounding area.

Some of the most popular naturally occurring roadside attractions include giant redwood trees, impressive rock formations, and stunning waterfalls. These natural wonders can provide a unique and memorable experience for visitors, and can even inspire a sense of awe and wonder.

The Grand Canyon

Perhaps you have a natural wonder close to your community and you want to emphasize its importance in a more interactive way. Having a 3D sculpture that pays homage to your natural surrounding can be a great way to provide the bigger picture in a single space. This can make for great photo ops for family and friends when they come to visit your location.

3. Historical Sites

Many roadside attractions are dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history of a particular area or topic. These attractions can range from small, local museums to larger historical sites that draw visitors from across the country. Some examples of these types of attractions include historic battlefields, pioneer settlements, and museums that focus on local industries or cultural traditions.

The World’s Largest Wagon Wheel and Pick Axe is located in the Fort Assiniboine National Historic Site.

Similar to natural wonders, using giant sculptures can help emphasize the meaning behind historical sites and build on the importance of that site. Oftentimes, historical sites utilize past images to showcase the events of that era. These photos can often be small or only provide a small portion of the actual event.

Using a large-scale sculpture can help immerse your visitors to see the intensity of the many details that history may have. Perhaps your location is next to a well-known historic battle, you could use large-scale sculptures to create a 3D landscape of what that battle may have entailed. Maybe your historical site involves a prominent figure that made a difference within your community or within history, having a large-scale sculpture of that figure can help focus the importance of that historical person.

All these ideas give your visitors a unique and memorable experience that they’ll be able to share with future visitors for years to come.

4. Museums and Curiosities

Museums can be historical in nature, but can also focus on science, art, or just a day of discovery.

Exterior shot of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
Hollywood Wax Museum featuring the World’s Largest Gorilla at 40ft tall.

If your business is out of the ordinary and takes its guests through a journey outside of the box of regular life, using a roadside attraction can be a great way to gauge curiosity towards your business. Museums, optical illusion exhibits, science centers, and other outside-the-box businesses can benefit from outside-the-box attractions. An upscale exterior design can entice or give visitors a hint at what your business is all about.

A great example of this is the business WonderWorks, in which its building is literally flipped on its head.

Exterior shop of Wonderworks Musuem themed and cladded to look like an upside-down building.
Wonderworks Museum with entertainment center focused on science exhibits.

WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park that combines both education and entertainment through its exhibits. Having a unique exterior design both turns heads and causes curiosity as to what hidden treasures that building may contain. WonderWorks also knows that its exterior generates curiosity and that they’ve gone “big” to build a story about its unique origin. By doing this, they build on the customer experience and branding for its company.

5. Amusement Parks and Activities

Many roadside attractions include rides and games, such as go-karts, mini golf, and bumper boats.

Offering a small activity like a mini-golf course is a good way to encourage travelers to take a break and relax for a bit. It can even increase the length of time that tourists stay in the town. Instead of just passing through, they may choose to spend a night to play and to explore the other attractions in the town.

Sculpted open-mouthed hippo character for outdoor mini golf course.
Sculpted open-mouthed hippo character for outdoor mini golf course.

6. Art Installations or Murals

Art installations and murals can be a unique way to create both a sense of community and create engagement from visitors. Having a large-scale art piece along a busy roadway can quickly enhance what your town or city is all about and give a focal point for guests to see and instantly relate to. These pieces can also showcase multiple aspects of your town and flow together into one captivating piece that can educate your visitors.

Have you heard of Graffiti Alley in Toronto, Canada? This unique section within the Greater Toronto Area stretches 1000 feet and showcases large-scale graffiti pieces that have become an iconic photo opportunity for models and photographers. These sets of murals also help encapsulate the alley’s history and curiosity about how the piece came to be.

On top of this, it has created an organic focus point for tourists to visit and venture into closeby businesses. The alley can be found within the heart of the GTA and closeby to Queens Street West which has local cafes, restaurants, and stores.

Although graffiti may not be the art style that you’d prefer for your community, a large-scale art piece designed to represent your town can create opportunities to highlight your location.

What Attraction is Right for You?

Whether it’s a statue of an iconic figure, an out-of-the-ordinary exterior design, or a large-scale art piece for photo ops, having a unique roadside attraction can be to drive visitors to learn more about your community. These six different ideas will help you start the conversation and jumpstart your ideas.

Regardless of what your community decides to go with, creating an iconic landmark can become a unique staple of your community piece for years to come.

Want some more inspiration for promoting your town or business?

How Exterior Theming Can Draw Visitors to Your Tourist Attraction

4 Ways a Roadside Attraction Can Benefit Your City or Town

How to Build a Giant Elephant

Playful Photo Op Inspiration

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your tourism experience from mundane to magical.




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