From the world’s largest ball of paint to a giant peach, Indiana is home to numerous incredible oddities that will make you want to pull over. These 20 roadside attractions are all great reasons to reroute your road trip. This list is part of The 20 IN 20. Begin your decade with a real adventure in 2020 by completing at least 20 of our 400 incredible things to do! Find out more about The 20 IN 20 here.
Travel is permitted, and getting out is great for mental and physical health, but it is still best to practice social distancing as we continue to fight COVID-19. Please take precautions, plan ahead, and follow CDC and local guidelines while on your tour of roadside attractions in Indiana.
The bespectacled, cocktail-sipping elephant stands on a flatbed trailer in from of Elite Beverages in Fortville. This roadside attraction is the physical manifestation of the classic American euphemism of “seeing pink elephants,” an early 20th-century expression used to describe someone who was intoxicated. Thus, the Pink Elephant is a strange but fitting mascot for the store. Its flatbed trailer is sometimes even pulled during parades!
After passing away in 1831, Nancy Barnett was buried on a hill. Her grave laid untouched until the early 1900s when county officials wanted to put a road in that spot. Her relatives defended her grave with a shotgun, so the state built the street around her. The road splits around her gravesite to this day with one lane on the side of the grave and one lane on the other.
Don’t lick flag poles! That is great advice now, and it would’ve been good advice in a holiday classic film. No Christmas season is complete without a viewing of the iconic movie, A Christmas Story. Set in northern Indiana, one of the movie’s most iconic scenes is when the helpless Flick gets his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole on a triple-dog-dare. A beautiful bronze statue of the memorable moment stands outside of the South Shore Welcome Center in Hammond. Seriously though, don’t lick the flag pole.
Joe Palooka was a 1930’s comic strip that featured a heavyweight boxing champion of the same name. The cultural icon was not only displayed in comics, but also movies, a TV show, radio series, and board game. The 10-ft Joe Palooka statue was built with Indiana limestone as a celebration during the 100th anniversary of the Indiana Limestone Company.
For decades, sightings of a monster turtle ran rampant at Fulk Lake. Though the legendary monster turtle was never captured, Churubusco placed a 12-foot statue on the north end of town in honor of the Monster Turtle of Fulk Lake. Fondly named “Oscar, the turtle inspired the annual “Turtle Days” festival.
What started as a regular baseball is now the world’s largest ball of paint with over 26,000 layers. Mike and Glenda Carmichael have been owners of the 4,000-pound ball for 40 years. Visitors can help expand it by painting their very own coat! Be sure to call or email to set up an appointment before you visit.
Settlers from Switzerland predominantly founded Berne with a legacy that lives on throughout the city. The 160-foot tall clock tower in the Muensterberg Plaza is a salute to the Zytglogge Tower in Switzerland. Catch old-world charm and a glockenspiel presentation daily at this Adams County landmark.
Time is told in a skin-baring way at one of Roselawn’s two nudist colonies, Sun Aura. The 63-foot long leg sundial is positioned to tell time! The location is a “clothing optional” camp now, so you don’t need to be naked to get a photo of this fascinating timepiece.
This shrine to St. Anne on the grounds of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College is likely smaller than your bedroom. Completely covered in beautiful shells, the St. Anne Shell Chapel was directed to be built by Mother Theodore Guerin in the mid-1800s. Most of its shells were collected from the Wabash River by the Sisters of the Providence.
The Muffler Man of Montpelier is famous for its appearance in the opening credits of Parks & Recreation. The Muffler Men are a collection of tall fiberglass titans that stand along the roadways of America. There are many representations of American culture, including Indians, cowboys, and lumberjacks. Montpelier’s Indian Muffler Man is a tribute for a local chief.
We all know that peaches are delicious treats, but who knew that they could be mighty giants? The 20-foot Giant Peach sits next to an actual roadside produce stand. However, those with mighty appetites may be disappointed, for the produce for sale is all average size. The Giant Peach was built to pay homage to the Trylon and Perisphere that debuted at the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
For over 100 years, Greensburg has had a tree growing out the top of the county courthouse. In the late 19th century, citizens of the town noticed that a small stem was growing on the building 110 feet above the ground. That stem was never removed, and now the tree refuses to die!
America’s most famous athlete in the first decade of the 20th century ran the mile in 1:55, a record that stood for over 30 years. A genuinely dominant competitor, Dan Patch never lost a race. The Benton County stable where he was born is adorned with his name and record blazing time.
The world’s largest steer was born, raised, and taxidermied in all of his posterity in Howard County. Old Ben was on the Murphy Farm in 1902. He weighed 125 pounds at birth and grew 100 pounds a month! Right next to Old Ben is the incredibly large Sycamore Stump. Estimated to be 1,500-years old, the stump is 12 feet tall, over 50 feet in circumference, and 18 feet wide.
The Tulip Trestle, a spectacular railroad bridge, was built in 1906 to haul coal out of Greene County. It was the largest trestle in the United States and third-largest in the world at one point. Visitors can experience the massive structure from below by walking along the stream or driving past the observation deck.
Wendell Willkie was an Indiana native who ran for President on the Republican ticket in 1940. His grassroots campaign was unique for its time, allowing him to collect over 22,000,000 votes in the general election. A mural on the side of Rushville Pharmacy pays tribute to his presidential campaign.
Champ stands tall and proud in front of US-40 in Brazil. The 70-year-old statue resided in Florida and Georgia before coming home to the Great Dane Trailers plant in Indiana. The recently restored dog is 17 feet paw to tip of his ears, stands on a 3-foot base, and weighs a total of 800 pounds.
One of the world’s largest candles is found at the Warm Glow Candle Outlet on I-70 in eastern Indiana. Not only can you stop by and admire the massive candle, but you can also shop at the store which offers over 60 fragrances of candles and products. The 22,000 square-feet facility is perfect for all types of visitors. Read More.
The King of Popcorn, Orville Redenbacher, was born in Brazil and built a popcorn factory in Valparaiso. The Orville Redenbacher brand has become of the most well known in the entire world. A bronze-replica of the businessman sits forever on a bench in Valparaiso’s downtown park.
A trip to the town of Santa Claus is not complete without a photo with Santa! The newly restored Historic Santa Statue is one of the larger roadside attractions, standing 22 feet and weighing 80,000 pounds. As they like to say, the statue is dedicated to the children of the world!
Plan your #The20IN20 trip by checking out the map of the roadside attractions below!