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The eastern portion of the United States is home to many world-recognized sites, but many of these grandiose tourist destinations overshadow the lesser-known, roadside attractions that are just as worthy of your time. Here's a round up of some of the best off-the-beaten path attractions along the east and west coasts that are worthy of a break on your next road trip:
Museum of Bad Art - Dedham, Massachusetts
The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Massachusetts boasts a collection of art so bad, it's good. Visitors to this museum can peruse the various galleries, which contains an impressive (or is it non-impressive?) 400 pieces as part of its permanent collection. Popular pieces include their "Mana Lisa" -- a painting that looks like the he-version of da Vinci's famous smiling woman, among others.
Lucy the Elephant - Margate, New Jersey
At over 120 years old, New Jersey's Lucy the Elephant boasts the title of America's oldest roadside attraction. She's constructed of entirely wood and tin, stands 65 feet tall and weighs in at a whopping 90 tons. For $4 a person ($2 kids), visitors can walk inside Lucy's belly.
The Shoe House - York, Pennsylvania
Ever heard of the old lady who lived in a shoe? Turns out, that old tale may have actually been true. Located off the Hellam exit on U.S. 30 stands an actual, livable house in the shape of a shoe. It was constructed in 1948 by Colonel Mahlon N. Haines as part of an advertising gimmick.
Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard - South Burlington, Vermont
Every time a flavor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream gets the boot, it makes a final resting place in their Waterbury cemetery. Each flavor gets a proper headstone so that visitors can walk by and pay their respects (free of cost). May Hunka Burnin' Fudge and Economic Crunch rest in piece.
It's true, travelers. The Midwest is home to many quirky attractions that might seem downright weird, but make for great roadside fun. Here are 10 that are worthy of your time:
World's Largest Catsup Bottle - Collinsville, Illinois
Along the Mississippi River in tiny Collinsville, Illinois, stands the world's largest catsup bottle. It was built in 1949 and used to serve as a water tower for the Catsup factory that once existed there. The Catsup tower is 170 feet tall and located next to Route 159.
Dorothy's House and the Land of Oz - Liberal, Kansas
Whether you're a fan of The Wizard of Oz or simply appreciate the classic film, dropping by this Land of Oz museum is a must. This roadside attraction is located in Liberal, Kansas and visitors can tour a replica of Dorothy's house in addition to the actual Land of Oz. Don't forget to say hello to the Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow.
Jolly Green Giant - Blue Earth, Minnesota
Even those who aren't a fan of vegetables will be mesmerized by this 60 foot tall replica of the Jolly Green Giant. It rests alongside I-90 and Highway 169 in Blue Earth, Minnesota and was built in 1979 to celebrate the city's canning business.
Since 1994, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) has kept track of just how much Americans spend on their pets. The data verifies that with every new year, U.S. pet owners have spent increasingly more on their four-legged counterparts. In fact, within the 10 years between 1994 and 2004, the spending literally doubled from $17 billion to $34 billion. Fast forward to 2010, a mere 6 years later, and that number has skyrocketed to approximately $47.4 billion.
While money spent on pets includes vet fees, food and other typical expenses, a large chunk of that is devoted to leisure-related activities like pampering and lodging. This increased amount of spending is partially due to a growing trend in the pet industry that has owners toting their pets along with them on vacation.
The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA) released data in January of 2009 that said the most popular animal that pet owners bring with them on vacations is a dog. This is likely due to the canine's happy-go-lucky attitude and ability to adapt to new environments quickly. Coming in at second place are felines at 15 percent, followed by birds at 3 percent and "others" at 2 percent (other includes ferrets, fish, rabbits).
This gives you the chance to scope out prices, which can vary greatly in touristy areas. It can also give you a better sense of what's available, so you don't wind up buying all junk.
If you find something unique, you should snag it, but otherwise set an afternoon aside for souvenir shopping.
You can do this online, or you call the hotel 24 hours before you arrive. If the booking never went through, this will give you plenty of time to reserve a room there -- or to reserve a room elsewhere, if that hotel is booked.
It's also a good idea to bring a copy of the transaction or online confirmation page just to verify that you did, indeed, pay for a room. Being able to prove the rate you paid may help protect you from any "gotcha" fees the hotel tries to levy.
As a rule, breakfast, brunch and lunch menus are less expensive than dinner menus. A big meal earlier in the day is also a great way to keep you energetic for the day's sightseeing activities.
It's okay to splurge on dinner every once in a while, but consider something quick, easy and inexpensive for most of your later meals. Bonus: by not filling up late at night, you'll feel more awake, ready to tackle your destination's nightlife!
A little dust and grime isn't too bad for a short trip, but leftover fast food bags and a pile of stuff cascading over the back seat can turn a road trip into a nightmare-on-wheels pretty quickly.
Instead of dealing with foul smells, swirling dog hair, or dusty air, treat yourself to a clean car the next time you plan a road trip. Get rid of all the trash, clean the windows, and vacuum the seats. A little effort can make a big difference in the quality of your road trip.
And you may even arrive at your destination without the need to shower immediately.
Call your insurance company to see if you and your family are covered overseas. This is especially important for destinations where disease and illness is more common, or for trips where a lot of physical activity occurs. If your medical insurance doesn't extend internationally, consider purchasing supplemental insurance for the time you're abroad.
Also, before leaving home, write down all your insurance information and carry it with you at all times. It's also a good idea to make copies for any family member traveling with you. Finally, consider providing copies for family or friends staying at home ... in case of emergency.