Bizarre, Strange, and Neat Places and Things to See on a Oklahoma Road Trip
If you’re interested in seeing bizarre things and visiting strange, unique places, Oklahoma has quite a few. Oklahoma is best known for football, Garth Brooks, and seasonal tornadoes, but the Sooner State also offers a plethora of neat things to see and very unique places to visit. Road trips are an excellent way to spend your vacation with family and friends, and having a list of neat and fun places to visit along your excursion is a great way to have your trip planned out. If you’re planning a road trip through Oklahoma, we’ve provided a list of bizarre, strange, and neat things and places to see on a Oklahoma road trip. Let’s begin in the very small town of Ames, OK. Okay?
photo by Corbin & Merz Architects
Ames Astrobleme Museum (Ames, OK.) – A Neat Place to Visit
Ames, Oklahoma is a very small town in the north central, to north-western part of the state in the southeastern region of Major County, Oklahoma. You might think that a town of only a population of 239, as of the 2010 census, might not be much of a town to visit, but you’d be wrong to think so. If you’re into history, geology and geological structures, especially a geological structure that was created by an object from space, well, then, you’re in for a treat with Ames. Ames is best known for its geological location, a neat place that is located within the boundary of a geological structure that’s called the Ames crater or the Ames astrobleme.
What the heck is an astrobleme? An astrobleme is a depression, usually circular, on the surface of the Earth that is caused by the impact of a meteorite. Ames crater – an astrobleme – is buried by about 9,000 feet of sediment, making it barely visible on the surface. It wasn’t even recognized until 1991, when a prolific oilfield was discovered there, making Ames an important contributor to the nation’s petroleum industry. Now, you might be thinking, “If it’s covered in sediment, then what’s there to see?”
The Ames Astrobleme Museum offers a terrific road-side stop to experience the history of the surrounding geological site of Ames, giving a peek into its geological past. This place offers a great presentation throughout this airy, outdoor exhibit, even presenting its history through video format by presenters who are authorities of the site’s history and geological science. You’ll see, in detail, how the meteor that impacted the site millions of years ago affected the area, how large it was, the composition of material the meteor was made of, how it affected the oil industry millions of years later, and much more in an easily understandable, and chronological presentation. Just have a look at what a visitor to here had to say on Tripadvisor:
photo by 405 Magazine
World’s Largest Peanut (Durant, OK.) – A Strange and Neat Thing to See
- 300 W Evergreen St, Durant, OK 74701
- Office Hours: 8AM-5PM Monday-Thursday
If you’re an admirer of legumes and statue artwork, Durant, Oklahoma displays a fine piece of work at the corner of 3rd and Evergreen, right next to Durant City Hall. Durant is home to the so-called World’s Largest Peanut that was commemorated with a statue in 1974 that sits on the corner lawn of the City Hall. It’s easy to find and a popular area for photo-ops for locals and passers-by. Durant also has a group of metal horse statues on Main St. and several "painted horses" scattered through the town that also make for great photo-ops. The peanut statue sits atop a stone plaque with the inscription “Dedicated to the Bryan County peanut growers and processors.” If that weren’t neat enough, there was also a time capsule buried a few feet in front of the monument back in 1973, which is scheduled to be disinterred and opened in June 2023. We’d be curious enough to plan a road trip ourselves to Durant come 2023, so that we can go be part of the time capsule disinterment and opening ceremony! What treasures could be in that time capsule?!
photo courtesy of TripAdvisor
World’s Largest Totem Pole (Foyil, OK.) – Neat Things to See
- 21300 OK-28 A, Chelsea, OK 74016
- Sunday-Saturday 6AM-8PM
Planning a route along Route 66 for your road trip? Just 3.5 miles east of U.S. Route 66, on Oklahoma State Highway 28A, you’ll find Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, home of the World’s Largest Totem Pole. Missouri born and Spanish War veteran, Ed Galloway (1880 - 1962) took a temporary job in Foyil as he was on his way to California with his family. Fate had other plans for Mr. Galloway. He ended up staying in Foyil, spent over 20 years teaching woodworking to boys in the Children home orphanage in Sand Springs, about 46 miles southwest of Foyil, and he eventually retired on his property in Foyil where he made several wondrous creations, one being what would be known as the world’s largest totem pole.
Ed started his totem pole project in 1937 and spent the next nine years working on it, mostly on his own. Mr. Galloway’s work of art has often been credited to be a tribute to Native American tribes, but according to Ed, he just wanted something to do during his retirement, and have something for the Boy Scouts to come visit. Turns out that people are still coming to visit Ed’s creation from all across the country.
The totem pole stands at a colossal height of 90-feet. It is constructed of concrete over scrap metal and red sandstone skeleton that’s been shaped into a tall, narrow cone shaped-like structure that sits atop a large sculpted turtle for its base. The outer structure has been painted to depict figures ranging from lizards and owls, to head dressed Indian chiefs. There’s even an interior to it, with a doorway to ground floor. The entire totem is hollow within, and ascends to 9 circular and increasingly narrow “floors”. The plastered interior chambers depict painted murals of mountain-and-lake scenes and bird totems, as well as Native American shields and arrow points that line the tops of the murals. At the very top of the cone shaped interior of the totem pole is a hole that is open to the sky.
There are several other sculptures that Ed made throughout the 14 acre park, such as an Arrowhead Totem, a Birdbath Totem, and a Tree Totem, each dating from around the 1950s. There are even a set of concrete totem picnic tables with seats, and a Fish Arc gate with bird images on the property. There’s even a museum on premise, known as the “Fiddle House” that keeps Ed Galloway’s fiddles and other creations he designed and made during his time on the property. Ed sure seemed like an interesting man during his time, and thank goodness he left his creations behind in this world for all to see. Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park may seem like an out of the way 4 mile detour off U.S. Route 66, but it’s little quirky places like this that make for a more an interesting road trip destination and truly more memorable pit-stop than most high trafficked locales offer.
photo courtesy of Redwood Falls Gazette
Spider VW Bug (Lexington, OK) – A Bizarre Thing to See
- Lexington, OK 73051
- In a field next to the Lexington Family Worship Center. A mile north of town, on the southbound side of US 77, just south of Moffatt Rd.
- Open 24 hours
Do you love the opportunity to take quirky photos with strange objects? Well, in Lexington, there’s something very strange that’s sure to peak your spidey senses, just off highway 77. We sure hope you don’t have a severe case of arachnophobia, because Lexington, Oklahoma is home of a giant spider bug that stands where the old world’s largest VW salvage yard used to be. In an empty field, near a small fellowship church on Hwy 77, stands a once 15-foot tall metal sculpture spider made from an old Volkswagen Bug body. Now a little shorter due to deterioration and sagging with age, this large VW arachnid provides a popular pit-spot for passersby to take selfies with this almost 40 year old artwork.
The Lexington “Spider Bug” was built by artist Monte Bodine in 1973-74, and has been a staple for locals for a couple generations. People have slowed down many times coming through this area when they spot this beautiful bug, and many have stopped to take photo-ops with friends and family over the years. We think it’s safe to say, that although spiders are feared by many, this spider bug has made many special memories for those who’ve stopped to pay attention to it, and we hope it can withstand many more decades to continue to bring more joy and photo-ops in the far future.
photo from movie scene in Twister (1996)
Twister Museum (Wakita, OK) – A Neat Place to Visit
Probably one of the greatest weather movies of all time is Twister, starring Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This movie from the mid-1990s made kids all across the country want to be storm-chasers when they grew up. The excitement and thrill to see the convoy of vehicles chasing tornados on back-country roads on the big screen was a thrill when that movie came out. The real town of Wakita, Oklahoma was used during filming, and a section of the older part of town was demolished for the film.
Not only did the town of Wakita house Hollywood film crews and actors for the movie Twister during a time in the 1990s, it ended up creating a permanent home for the museum made thanks to the movie that created its existence. The Twister Museum, housed in the location office of the movie located on 101 W Main Street in Wakita, contains all sorts of information and videos on the making of the movie, as well as props from the movie, like the original Dorothy 1, a tornado instrument used by Jo (Helen Hunt) and Bill Harding (Bill Paxton) used to study the inside of the funnel. Referencing a character name from the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy’s purpose in the movie Twister was to create an advanced warning system from 3 minutes to 15 minutes. There’s even behind-the-scenes videos and autographs taken during the filming of the 1996 movie, as well as a small gift shop that offers all sorts of memorabilia that would be great to take back home with you to show all your weather geek friends where you visited.
The Twister Museum is a neat stop to take in Wakita if you’re ever in the area, especially for movie buffs. You can easily find this place on your map. Just remember to roll the maps when you’re done.
gif courtesy of BuzzFeed
photo courtesy of Pinterest
Upended 18-Wheel Truck (Tonkawa, OK) – A Bizarre and Neat Thing to See
- 16600 W Fountain Rd, Tonkawa, OK
- East side of I-35, exit 211, W Fountain Rd.
- Open 24 hours
Any good advertisement will have you remember what it’s portraying long after you see it. A great advertisement will have you talking about it to others. A pretty great one you can’t miss off I-35 in Tonkawa, Oklahoma is the upended 18-wheel truck that was created as a billboard, of sorts, for the Wilkins Oklahoma Truck Supply. This place is especially neat and possibly beneficial for our truck driver friends on the road, since Wilkins Oklahoma Truck Supply offers all sorts of truck parts and supplies, as well as selling trucks for the professional driver. If you have the chance to visit this marker on the road, it may make for another great Oklahoma photo-op to keep in your Oklahoma road trip scrap book.
photo courtesy of Pinterest
No Man's Land Historical Society (Goodwell, OK) – A Neat Place to Visit
- 207 Sewell St, Goodwell, OK 73939
- Summer Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-Noon 1PM-4PM
Taking the words right out of the No Man’s Land Historical Society’s Home Page, “The No Man's Land Historical Society is an organization that has been preserving the Oklahoma Panhandle's heritage since its establishment in 1934. The founders were surviving pre-territorial pioneers from the area who wanted to sustain the historical documents and pioneer relics that marked the settling of No Man's land for future generations. Today, the No Man's Land Museum serves as a comprehensive museum of the Oklahoma Panhandle and its adjacent regions.”
The No Man’s Land Historical Society was an outgrowth of the Agricultural College that became Oklahoma Panhandle State University. This place features objects and images that tell the compelling local history, mostly from the perspective of the settler, although other viewpoints are shared as well. There are several artifacts displayed that show the region’s history, such as the items that were used for farming and agriculture during the 19th and early 20th century, natural historical artifacts, tools, and other items from long ago.
We love to find places that show a bit of history of the areas we visit during our road trips, especially history on places that aren’t necessarily shared as much to the masses or all that well known. A place like the No Man’s Land Historical Society in Goodwell, Oklahoma does a great job sharing history on the Panhandle of Oklahoma in particular, a place whose history was not well known to us. When we see the Panhandle on the map, we just see a small strip of land outlined on the map that includes a few Oklahoma counties sandwiched between parts of the Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico borders. If not for places like No Man’s Land Historical Society, this important part of America and its history might be forgotten and lost in the ether of time, becoming a true “no man’s land.” That’s why we try to share such important and neat places as this place for you to visit along your road trips, so that we may interest more people to become interested in the nooks and crannies of places and history of America.
Longest Straight Road in the U.S. (Boise City-Guymon, OK) – A Strange Place to See
- US Hwy 412, Guymon, OK
- US Hwy 412 running west-east, from its intersection with US Hwy 56 near Boise City to just northwest of Guymon, and again from Hardesty to just east of Slapout.
“Are we there yet?” Get ready to set your cruise control for this ride. If you’ve thought some drives would never end, try driving down a large section of U.S. Hwy 412, from Boise City to Guymon or vice versa. This strange stretch of highway is approximately 50 miles long of straight-as-an-arrow driving. This relatively flat area of land with little tree growth all along this very long stretch of highway gives an eerie vibe along your drive, as if you’re in some alternate universe or in the Twilight Zone. This road is very straight and in some sections of the highway, if you look to your left and right, you cannot see any structures whatsoever for as far as the eyes can see. A great song selection to listen to whilst driving this 50-mile long straight-as-a-board highway is:
- The Road Goes on Forever by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.
- Highwayman by The Highwaymen
- Highway to Hell by AC/DC
- Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane
- Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot
- Oklahoma Sunshine by Waylon Jennings
photo courtesy of Tulsa World
Full-Size Transformers (G&M Body Shop - Stillwater, OK) – A Bizarre Thing to See
- Address: G&M Body Shop East - McCubbin's Optimus Prime Transformer
- 2207 E 6th Ave, Stillwater, OK 74074
- Address: G&M Body Shop West - McCubbin's Bumblebee Transformer
- 5104 W 6th Ave, Stillwater, OK 74074
If you’re looking for a place for a much needed pit-stop after being in your car for several hours on your road trip through Oklahoma, and you’re in the area, then a place like Stillwater is an interesting place to stretch your legs. Stillwater is a good sized town that offers everything the road traveler needs; fuel for the car, grocery store for stocking up on road snacks and water, hotels for an overnight stay, America’s first Sonic Drive-In restaurant, Garth Brooks’ old house, and a couple of body shops that have life-sized Transformers guarding the places. What? Yes, we said that there are life-sized Transformers guarding both G&M Body Shop locations in town, east and east, 24-7. They’re an awesome site to see, a great photo opportunity to take for Transformer fans and kids, and it’s a bizarre site to see a full-size Transformer standing outside a body shop.
G&M Body Shop has 2 of the 5 Transformer statues in the US that stand 20-feet or higher. At G&M Body Shop East, just east of the southeast corner of Highway 51 and Jardot Road, there’s a 22-foot tall, 5700 pound, Optimus Prime Transformer statue that stands out front of the shop. At G&M Body Shop West, on the west side of Stillwater, next to El Vaquero Mexican restaurant and Motel 6, there’s a 20-foot tall Bumble Bee Transformer statue that’s stands outside that location.
Both Transformers were made in Thailand, but were significantly rebuilt and upgraded by the body shop owner, Mike McCubbin who was not satisfied by their original design. There’s a great interview article done by Roadside America called McCubbin’s Transformers, where Mike discusses the story behind these massive robots he rebuilt and erected outside his body shops.
photo courtesy of simpsonfamilyokc.com
Stand on Three States (Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri) – A Strange and Neat Place to Be
- 1183 S E 118th St, Joplin, MO 64804
- Just take I-44 exit 1 in Missouri. Drive NW a half-mile on US Hwy 400, toward the casino. Enter the traffic circle and drive three-quarters around. Exit right (west) onto Downstream Blvd, then make the very first left onto 118th St. (a gravel road). The marker is set into the dead-end of that road about ¼ to ½ miles, and there's a large rock cairn as well. The stone cairn is NOT the location, but the marker is just to the east.
- Open 24 hours
You’ve probably heard of 4-corners, a region in the western US where the four state lines of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico meet at an intersection on the map, but have you ever heard of 3-corners? Similar to 4-corners, 3-corrners is where the three state lines of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma meet together on the map. Just as you can be in all four states at 4-corners at the same time, similarly you can stand in all three states of Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma at the same time at 3-corners! No, you will not be breaking any laws of physics, nor find yourself in a quantum entanglement; you can actually chill-out in three states, at once, with no physical laws broken!
If you’ve been to 4-corners, you know just how strange and cool it is to be standing in several US states at once, so taking a pit-stop at 3-corners at the Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma state line intersection is an obvious stop you must take the next time you’re road tripping in this area. Regardless of you ever visiting 4-corners or not, 3-corners is a pretty neat spot to go.
Just know that this place can be a little tricky to find. You might even miss it without knowing. To get there, just take I-44 exit 1 in Missouri. Drive NW a half-mile on US Hwy 400, toward the casino. Enter the traffic circle and drive three-quarters around. Exit right (west) onto Downstream Blvd, then make the very first left onto 118th St. (a gravel road). The marker is set into the dead-end of that road about ¼ to ½ miles, and there's a large rock cairn as well. The stone cairn is NOT the location, but the marker is just to the east.
Expired Parking Meter Tombstone (Okemah, Oklahoma) – A Strange and Bizarre Thing to See
- N3770 Rd, Okemah, OK
- Highland Cemetery. Appx. 1 1/4 mile north of I-40 exit. Go through two stop signs then up a big hill and through the middle gate.
- Gated after hours.
We don’t know how far you’re willing to go out of your way to go see the bizarre or strange on your road trip adventures, but this last place on our list is definitely not your run-of-the-mill pit-stop. It’s downright odd, but very nonconformist. It’s far-out, off-the-wall, it’s freaky, and it’s off-the-beaten-track. If you’re really into the strange and bizarre, this place will be a perfect detour for you to take on your next Oklahoma road trip.
Some folks request to be cremated after they die; their ashes kept in an ern or spread out in a location of their choosing. Some request to be buried in a cemetery, amongst long-passed relatives, with their simple headstone in a nice, quiet plot in the cemetery. But, sometimes there’s the unorthodox person; someone who has to be different than the rest; one with style and sense of humor above all others, even in death. Barbara Sue Manire seems to have been that type of person. She made something that would normally be a difficult topic for others an opportunity for light-hearted humor at her own expense.In the Highland Cemetery in Okemah, Oklahoma lies Barbara’s final resting place. A plot with her beautiful headstone that reads her name, the time she was here on Earth and the inscription “Our Mom… Her Humor Lives On”. Her headstone looks like any other that you’d see in the cemetery, except for the fact that there’s an expired parking meter connected to the granite of her headstone. It’s been said that Barbara had a great sense of humor and always wanted to have a parking meter on her grave that read ‘Expired’. Keeping her wishes, her nephew found and bought a parking meter off eBay and had it placed on her grave, reading ‘Expired’ as she’d wanted. Though the meter has run out, her humor still lives on for all that come to visit her right near the road, in the Highland Cemetery in Okemah, OK.