When I was 17, my parents took us on a family vacation. Visions of Disneyland danced in my head, so when we arrived at a fish hatchery and toured a logging company I willed my 17-year-old self to die. Thirty years later it’s that trip that I remember the most fondly. Northern California is known for lots of cool stuff, but there are even more things you may not know about. Sure, they might seem lame on the surface but these roadside attractions can lead to some of the coolest memories of all.
1. Pacific Pinball Museum
1510 Webster Street Alameda
Teach your kids about your "video games" from your teen years. This is a really fun place. According to reviews it's a place you can stay at all day long. For only $15 you can do just that and play pinball for hours!
2. Van Damme Pygmy Forest
8125 N Hwy 1,Little River
A trail for those tiny pygmies in your family. One source says, "The trail is a quarter mile long elevated wooden walkway, perfect for toddlers and strollers. Dwarf cone bearing cypress and pine trees are the main attractions and although they are over 100 years old, it looks like a young forest."
3. St. Francis made of melted guns. San Francisco Community College
Sculptor Beniamino Bufano created "St. Francis of the Guns" with bronze, steel and mosaic artwork. He wanted to portray peace by melting down guns for this art piece.
4. Bird in Hand
320 Broadway Street, Chico
This is a fun little store with a museum in the back. One gal shared, "The Yo-Yo Museum is why we came though. It's super impressive! Definitely worth a stop if you're driving through Chico or killing time before your Sierra Nevada brewery tour."
5. One-Log House
705 N Hwy 101Garberville
The fee is a whopping one dollar. One reviewer said, "I'm here to tell you, this is one of those cases where it's actually worth the price! It was pouring rain, and the One Log House kept me warm and dry during my visit. Plus, it was really cute inside, with all kinds of funky vintage decor and old Readers Digests and whatnot."
6. Brigadoon Park
Silver Creek Rd., San Jose
Are the kids driving you up the wall? Are they bouncing around in the car? Then make sure to stop here to let them burn off a little steam. A favorite in these parts, you'll love it - and so will they!
7. The Flintstone House
45 Berryessa Way, Hillsborough
This house gets its name from the cartoon "The Flintstones" because, well, for obvious reasons. It's a personal residence and according to Wikipedia sources, "It was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976 as an experiment in new building materials, in the form of a series of domes. It was constructed by spraying shotcrete onto steel rebar and wire mesh frames over inflated balloons."
8. Unloved Statue of President McKinley, Arcata
The sculptor had this 8-foot bronze statue of our 25th President placed in a foundry in San Francisco. That same sculptor saved his piece and moved it to Arcata after the Great Earthquake of 1906. According to an article on RoadsideAmerica.com, "For most of its life in the center of Arcata, the McKinley statue was loved, and the populace enjoyed close interactions - dressing it for the holidays or placing items in his hand or around his neck. But these days he skews to the unloved end of the spectrum because McKinley was an imperialist - and many of the town's current resident college students aren't majoring in imperialism. The statue has been the subject of petitions to demand its removal, and has repeatedly been dressed in humiliating outfits (like the Cardiff Kook statue further down the coast). When vandals stuffed McKinley's nose and ears with cheese, it was national news."
9. The BIG Stump, Arnold
Calaveras Big Trees State Park in Arnold is home to this big guy. Feel like impressing your kids with God's creation? Head over here and remember to snap a photo!
10. Giant Grape Crusher Statue
Napa Valley Corporate Dr, Napa
If you find yourself wine tasting in this pretty part of our state, make sure to stand beside this guy. One person shared, “At the southern end of Napa where Highway 29/12 merges with 221, The Grape Crusher Statue is a very familiar landmark for those traveling to and from Wine Country."
Which one of these have you seen personally? Which have you added to your new roadside attraction bucket list?