Looking to hit the road and take the kids on a kooky adventure this summer? You don’t have to venture very far to treat them to an experience they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.
Michigan’s roads are dotted with all kinds of oddities and hidden treasures that kids will get a kick out of seeing.
From a giant tire along the freeway (yes, that one) to a historic statue of Paul Bunyon and a massive concrete cow, here are 13 weird roadside attractions in Michigan that you can — and frankly, should — visit with your kids.
Note: Some of these attractions may be on private property. Check before you head out, and remember it’s never OK to climb on art installations unless there’s a sign that specifically says you can.
- Location: 25 Christmas Lane, Frankenmuth
This year-round retail shop is any Christmas lovers paradise that features 27 acres trimmed with beautiful holiday displays. The store itself spans 96,000 square feet full of lights, decorations and Christmas gifts.
- Location: 11160 U.S. Highway 23 S., Ossineke
Take a walk through a pre-historic jungle filled with scenes one might imagine came from Jurassic Park — without all the hungry T. rexes. Admission is $7 and kids under 2 are free.
- Location: 18335 N. Whitefish Point Road, Paradise
This educational hub honors the lives lost on our Great Lakes. Standout items at the museum include the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald, a full-sized replica of a Beebe-McClellan surfboat and a restored lighthouse keeper’s quarters. Admission is $13, $9 for kids 5-17, and free for kids under 5.
- Location: 3600 Heidelberg St., Detroit
Local artist Tyree Guyton took the abandoned homes, vacant lot trash and broken down cars in this area and transformed it into artwork. The Heidelberg installation has been the victim of arson in recent years but you can still swing by and see some of the houses turned into art.
- Location: Ave Maria Drive, Ann Arbor
A2 is the home of Domino’s Pizza and they commemorate it with a 50-foot high outdoor model of what was going to be the pizza franchise’s headquarters.
- Location: 101 N. Harbor Drive, Grand Haven
This fountain is 230-feet long and features colored lights and 1,300 nozzles as it entertains visitors with synchronized light, water and musical performances.
- Location: N9273 U.S. Highway 41, Daggett
This statue probably takes the prize for “weird attractions.” Bring your teens (or maybe just your partner) to see this driveway display, which features an utterly ridiculous cow that’s flashing passersby. There’s a waiter cow and a self-garnishing hot dog man, too.
- Location: At the corner of U.S. 23 and Nicholson Hill Road, Ossineke
We all know the tale of Paul Bunyan and his big, blue ox named Babe. In the 1940s, Paul N. Domke brought the story to life with a 25.5-foot statue of the lumberjack and a 10.5-foot version of his blue companion. Check it out, but remember climbing on either installation is a misdemeanor.
- Location: N916 Martin Lake Road, St. Ignace
Is it magnets, construction or something supernatural that gives this spot its powers? No one knows. What we do know is that this spot has been denying all we know to be true since 1953. Admission is $9 ages 12 and older, $7 ages 5-11 and free under 5.
- Location: Patterson Lake Road, Hell
Interested in a trip to Hell? Take Highway 36 through Pinckney and look for the signs to Hell. You’ll know you’re there when you reach the gate that says “Gates of Hell.” Other attractions in this town include the Locks of Love Bridge, Hell Hole Diner and the Creamatory at Screams. You can even become the mayor of Hell for a day.
- Location: Off of I-94, Allen Park
OK, OK. As Metro Detroiters, we’re sure you’ve seen this attraction before but as the world’s largest tire, we couldn’t leave it off. This 12-ton and 80-foot-tall tire served as a Ferris Wheel at the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s on private property but you can still enjoy it in all its glory as you drive on by.
- Location: 3424 Cass Road, Traverse City
Where else would the world’s largest cherry pie pan be other than the cherry capital of the world, Traverse City? You can catch the 28,350-pound pie tin in late June or early July and don’t forget to make a detour in Charlevoix to see the world’s former largest cherry pie pan.
- Location: 4560 Dowling St., Montague
Weathervanes are typically mounted on top of structures and show the direction the wind is coming from. Michigan’s world’s largest version (there are others claiming to be bigger) stands at 48-feet-tall and features a lumber schooner on top that catches the wind with its sails.
Do you know of other weird roadside attractions in Michigan? Share them with us in the comments.