RV Roadside Oddities (New England Edition)
When you think of areas in the United States that have a large number of roadside oddities, New England might not be up there. Florida in the south, sure, or maybe out west with Nevada and New Mexico – but New England? There’s nothing strange there except for maybe Stephen King’s house, right? Wrong. In fact, aside from some pretty spectacular fall colors, New England is host to a number of fascinating roadside attractions, off-the-beaten-path stops, and general weirdness. If you’re looking for a unique road trip destination in your RV, then New England might have all the oddities you can handle – and then some. Ready to start planning a New England drive that you won’t forget? Put aside foliage season and big-city sightseeing, and take note of some of these roadside and small-town landmarks instead:
Paul Bunyan Statue – Bangor
Move over Portland (Oregon), If you’re familiar with Stephen King’s seminal novel It, you might remember a giant Paul Bunyan statue coming to life and attacking the protagonists. It’s easy to imagine that King got the idea from Bangor’s own oversized Paul Bunyan, a fiberglass-and-steel figure that stands 35 feet high and weighs 3,700 pounds. Fortunately, there’s no chance it’ll be moving on its own any time soon, not even during hurricane season – as Boston.com says, Paul’s frame was created to withstand winds up to 110 miles per hour. Still, you might want to keep an eye on that over-sized ax.
The Desert of Maine – Freeport
Sand dunes in Freeport sound like a practical joke, but the Desert of Maine is actually a wonder of geology. Travel Squire explains the natural phenomenon: “A glacier slid through the area more than 11,000 years ago, leaving behind a trail of a fine, sand-like substance. This silt was beneath the ground all along, but didn’t rise to the surface until William Tuttle, the landowner, began farming it.” Which means that today, you’re able to roam a very realistic desert landscape in the middle of Maine, complete with metal camels – though you won’t need to worry about dehydration or mirages.
New England’s Biggest Chair – Gardner
If you thought Canada had the monopoly on oversized roadside objects, think again. In Gardner, Massachusetts, you can hop up on the biggest chair in New England – a 10-ft. wide, 9-ft. deep red chair that can seat a ton of tourists. Boston.com sadly notes that it’s no longer the largest chair in the world – that honor passed to another giant chair in Alabama, which later got dethroned (pun intended) by a 65-ft. chair in Italy – but “Gardner’s is still impressive with its ladder-back slats and reinforced seat.” Visit what’s known as “The Chair City” and take a seat on its landmark – or, if you’re into the creepier side of things, check out Gardner’s famous haunted Victorian mansion and ponder purchasing one of America’s most haunted houses (it’s going cheap!).
Gravity Hill – Greenfield
On Shelburne Road in Greenfield, there’s a strange natural phenomenon known as Gravity Hill. If you drive to the bottom of Gravity Hill and put your vehicle in neutral, it will appear as though you’re rolling up the hill. However, it’s an optical illusion – as an article about Harvard’s gravity hill (yes, there’s another one in the same state) explains, “In fact, this topographical slight of hand is the outcome of the lay of the terrain, the position of trees, and a slight obstruction in the horizon.” So although Greenfield’s Gravity Hill might just be a trick of the eyes, it’s still worth a detour to experience for yourself. (Roadside America reminds us that Gravity Hill is on a public road, so be sure to use hazard flashers and watch out for other curious drivers!)
Redstone Rocket – Warren
Although the word “rocket” might make you think of Cape Canaveral, the Redstone Rocket in Warren isn’t quite the same as NASA’s vehicle of choice. Instead, it’s a missile – the kind that NASA did, in fact, once use to propel its spaceships into the stratosphere. No one is entirely sure how or why the Redstone Rocket is in a small town in New Hampshire, but according to stories collected on Roadside America, the ballistic missile appeared in Warren in 1971, apparently at the behest of a citizen who succeeded in getting the government to donate it. It now sits upright in the town square as a truly strange attraction.
The Big Blue Bug – Providence
RV road-trippers with a bug phobia might want to skip this stop in Providence – but for anyone else who wants to see the world’s largest insect statue, hit Interstate 95 and keep an eye out for Big Blue Bug Solutions. Hunkered down on the roof is their namesake, a massive, inexplicably blue termite with the adorably kitschy nickname of “Nibbles Woodaway”. Nibbles has kept watch by the interstate since 1980, and according to the pest control company’s official website, he’s even appeared in the background of numerous TV shows and films. Not too shabby for a giant pest.
Queen Connie – Salisbury
Imagine a giant metal gorilla. Now imagine that giant metal gorilla hoisting a VW Bug. This odd mental image comes true in Salisbury, where the much-beloved gorilla – nicknamed Queen Connie – has stood by Route 7 in Vermont since 1987. Travel Squire reports that Queen Connie was created by sculptor TJ Neil, and has become a well-publicized attraction over the years – including appearing in Car and Driver magazine and acting as the site for marriage ceremonies. As Boston.com says, nobody really knows how the VW Bug manages to balance up there on Queen Connie’s over-sized hand, but she’s managed to heft her prize for 28 years now, so she must be doing something right.
Plan a Trip to See These Oddities
The next time you think New England is all picturesque forests and college towns, it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot weirder stuff going on in those states than you might think. To that point, it’s definitely worth taking your motorhome or RV off the beaten path and checking out some of the many roadside oddities that New England has to offer. Whether you’re into supernatural lore, quirky museums, or just garden-variety over-sized objects, you’re sure to have a road trip to remember in New England.