With an abundance of websites cataloging places to ride, eat, stay and see, it’s hard to keep them all straight. To help fix that conundrum and point you in the direction of finding the tool that fits your desires the best I’m going to share some of my favorite sites and tools for creating that perfect trip.

“Your Online Guide to Offbeat Tourist Attractions”

The Upsides The Downsides
  • This site if full of “Americana”
  • User ratings with reviews
  • Been around forever
  • iPhone (iApps)
  • Commercial Downloadable POI for your GPS
  • Custom downloadable POI for your GPS
  • The UI looks like it hasn’t been updated in years
  • Not categorized by anything other than “must see -can skip”

I have used roadsideamerica.com for many years for finding things unique things to see when traveling to a new area.  It was one of the very first sites I knew of for finding great roadside attractions and unique stops that aren’t talked about often.  This is the site that will give you the “Offical Center of the World” or the more traditional “Worlds Largest Ball of Twine” in a map broken out by state.  The site is full of attractions that you never knew existed.

The bad part is that it is not easy to navigate to find the best most places that are most relevant to your interests.  Yes, you can break it down by state but after that you see a map with a bunch of pins placed that can be clicked on.  Even using the “Must see” filter system on the left doesn’t make it extremely user friendly to find the good stuff.  Using the list view isn’t particularly helpful either as it just shows a town name and the attraction.  Which is fine when you are super familiar with all of the towns in a state, but very few people truly are.

One nice feature that does exist though is adding locations to “My Sites” so that you can save them for review later.  Once you have added sites to “My Sites” you can then create a custom downloadable file to load into your GPS, which is an awesome feature.  Although I wish they’d just allow you to download the entire database.  (That would probably defeat the purpose of their existence to some extent and allow people to create their own interface starting at a spot it took RoadSideAmerica.com to get to.)  After visiting a place you can share you thoughts or experience  on the location with others.  This “Review” system is pretty antiquated as far as the social aspect and review rating go it works for the sites overall nostalgic yet functional feel.  There’s no good way to find a good review or reviewer ti know if they are just a complainer or truly match what you are looking for in a location.

Like most any site these days RoadsideAmerica.com has a decent blog (rss) that gets updated at an interval that rests nicely on the “are they still active” to “OMG stop posting useless crap” scale.  The blogs are a well written cross between education and entertainment and they are pretty active at promoting them on their active twitter account.

One of my big wishes is that they would give coordinates of the attractions.  Many times the pins are placed on the map CLOSE to where the actual attraction is.  Directions are many times given inside the description of the item, but none of this is very helpful when loading to a GPS or phone for visiting later.  That being said the used to have a POI file you could download and put into your own garmin GPS.  They have since discontinued this service.  The service still exists to some extent allowing you to download a .csv of the items you have saved in your site.  (Read how to download POI here).

Overall roadsideamerica.com is a classic site and probably one of the largest databases for roadside attractions anywhere.  They’ve been around forever and continue to add new content to their site.  While the interface isn’t as polished or as categorized as some sites like RoadTrippers.com it has an extensive list of unique sights that you won’t find anywhere else on the web.