January 3rd, 2018
The Most Instagram-Worthy Road Trip Destinations in the US
Half of the fun of a road trip is finding fun, quirky, and downright odd reasons to stop and explore. With these route suggestions, you’ll have no problem populating your Instagram feed.
There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road, the wind in your hair and no end point, just a direction. At least, I imagine there’s nothing quite like it. I love road trips, but I always have a destination in mind. My time is limited, and—while I’m all for short detours—getting lost on the backroads in Arkansas in the dark with an ever-diminishing tank of gas is not really my type of adventure.
I’ve found, though, that even the most point-to-point road trips can incorporate fun and funky stops. Whether it’s looking for an off-the-highway route or taking slight detour that might add a half-hour to your total drive time, I enjoy the challenge of finding photo-worthy fodder on the way. After all, how is my family going to know that I’m still alive if I’m not posting my artistic pics on my Instagram feed? I’ve had the opportunity to take some pretty long road trips due to my peripatetic nature—here are some of the best Insta-worthy sites I’ve found along the way.
The Car-Grabbing Troll of Seattle
My first trip to Seattle gave me a taste of the Pacific Northwest’s Instagrammable finds. The Fremont Troll, which is a sculpture of a troll that clutches a VW Bug under the George Washington Memorial Bridge, was a must-visit when I visited with my sister, and got me looking for even more stories about other art installations, giant fiberglass statues and weird roadside stops. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest and its denizens are known for being a bit eccentric and there are lots of photo ops on a trip from Seattle to San Francisco. There’s a Sasquatch trap, the only of its kind, located south of Portland (near a nice hiking trail so you can stretch your legs) and you can visit the Oregon Vortex, a spot where round objects seem to roll uphill, before you cross the border into California.
East Coast Welcome Centers…and a Giant Chicken in Kansas
I love stopping at the welcome center when I cross into a new state. I started taking pictures of the “Welcome to ___” signs when I began my quest to visit all 50 states, and these centers are also known to offer free coffee, free WiFi, and decent restrooms. I recently drove from my parents’ house in Florida back to Colorado, which—depending on which route you take—can include crossing through nine states (Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado). It’s a long drive. However, stopping at welcome centers led me to find a giant peanut in Alabama, a life-sized cutout of Elvis in Mississippi, and all sorts of other gems. Along the road I also found a giant chicken made from recycled car bumpers and a giant Superman statue in Metropolis, Kansas.
The World’s (Second) Largest Roadrunner and Graffiti in Texas
It stands to reason that a large state like Texas would have plenty of cool and quirky places just begging to be featured on Instagram—and I’ve found quite a few on my drives through the Lone Star State. The first time that I drove to Colorado from Georgia, my sister and I found the (former) World’s Largest Roadrunner in Fort Stockton, Texas. The city’s mascot’s name is Paisano Pete, and though sadly Pete was ousted from his title by a roadrunner made from recycled material in New Mexico, he still holds a place in my heart..
When a friend from Australia was visiting the States, we passed through Amarillo on the way to New Orleans just to visit Cadillac Ranch, the graffiti’d public art installation that—conveniently—is also near the Big Texan, home of the 72-ounce steak challenge. I’m not sure he was impressed (they have lots of giant things in Australia, including a giant banana), but it’s a very picture-worthy spot. Another art installation that makes for a great road trip destination is the stand-alone Prada storefront in the small artsy community of Marfa, Texas.
There have been many weird stops that I’ve made on road trips, and some that I’m still figuring out how to wrangle. Carhenge in Nebraska, is on my must-see list, as is Sweet Willy, the biggest beagle in the world at 30 feet tall who doubles as a B&B in Cottonwood, Idaho. And while I’m a bit bummed that I missed the Giant Prairie Dog that was advertised for miles along I-70 in Kansas (it closed a few years ago), I’m not that sad because I’ve realized that most of the great sights are free. So whether your road trip lasts a weekend or longer, here’s to wide open spaces and Instagrammable places.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
How to Stay Organized on a Road Trip
Photo Journal: How to Rock an RV Road Trip
by Katie Coakley
Katie Coakley is a Denver-based freelance writer who writes about travel, craft beer, and outdoor adventures. She’s just as happy sleeping on a ledge as in a five-star hotel. You can follow her journeys on Instagram.