What’s a road trip if not for veering off to find the world’s largest ball of twine or a giant talking cow? Usually those are pit stops along the way of a longer road trip, but what if you could go an a drive that does nothing but check out amazing, random, weird roadside attractions? Wisconsin is full of little oddities, and you really can find them all over the state. But this trip in the northern part of the state takes you to some of the very best roadside attractions Wisconsin has to offer.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Whether you're looking for Very Large things to take pictures with or truly odd little spots you won't find anywhere else, this road trip has something you'll love.
1. World's Largest Ball of Twine - Lake Nebagamon
There's no easy way to determine the largest ball of twine. Is it how much twine is used? Circumference? Those can be subjective, so one way that seems to be undeniable is weight - and this ball of twine is the heaviest one we know of. The man who continues to work on it, James Frank Kotera (or JFK) weighs his twine before he weaves it on and keeps a running total. Seems legit to us!
Visitors are welcome and your "toll" is singing the visitors log in the mailbox. Located at 8009 S. Oakdale Rd., Lake Nebagamon, WI.
2. World's Largest Fiberglass Structure - Hayward
The giant muskie at the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward is also the world's largest fiberglass fish. The muskie is four stories tall and longer than a jumbo jet. You can climb inside up to the viewing platform in its mouth. While you're here, check out the museum that has more than 3,000 entries in record books.
The museum is open seven days a week in summer, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $8.25 for adults, $6.25 for kids. Located at 10360 Hall of Fame Dr., Hayward, WI 54843.
3. Moccasin Bar - Hayward
There's really no easy way to describe this Hayward institution. There are taxidermy animals all over the place in little diorama vignettes. It's strange and unique and really something you have to experience to understand. Located at 15820 US Hwy 63, Hayward, WI 54843.
4. Fred Smith's Concrete Park - Phillips
In the early part of the 20th century, Fred Smith, who had no art training, began creating unique pieces of folk art out of concrete. Though he's since passed, this awesome park stands as a totally unique and interesting look at art and recycling that really was well before its time. Located at N8236 S. Hwy 13, Phillips, WI.
5. World's Largest Talking Loon - Mercer
Placed outside the Mercer Chamber of Commerce in 1981, "Claire d'Loon" speaks only in loon. She weighs 2,000 pounds and is 16 feet tall. Mercer calls itself the "Loon Capital," so Claire makes an odd bit of sense. Claire is a lovely little roadside attraction and a quick roadside stop for a picture. Located at 5150 N. Hwy 51, Mercer, WI.
6. World's Largest Penny - Woodruff
This roadside attraction commemorates a small local stunt with a big impact. In 1953, Dr. Kate Pelham asked local schoolchildren to save their pennies to help build a hospital. The story got nationwide traction as pennies were sent in from across the country - 1.7 million of them. The hospital was built and the giant penny stands as a reminder.
7. Giant Hodag - Rhinelander
Whether of not you believe the legend of a the Hodag, there's no denying that Rhinelander has embraced the mythical monster as their own. The Chamber of Commerce has this giant version right out front, just waiting for you to take pictures with it. Located at 450 W Kemp St., Rhinelander, WI 54501.
8. Center of the Northern Half of the Western Hemisphere - Poniatowski
Photo property of author
actually written a whole article on this awesome place.
The 45x90 marker is one of just four spots like this in the world. Two are under the ocean and one is in a remote mountainous region of China, meaning that this spot not far from Wausau is a pretty unique place to visit. You can even get a coin commemorating your stop back at the visitor's center in Wausau.
The easiest way to find the marker is to put the address 5651 Meridian Rd, Athens, WI 54411 in your GPS.
Or you can use this Google Map.
9. Jurustic Park - Marshfield
The creation of two artists, this spot is a "theme park" full of beings from the Iron Age. According to their website, the park is full of the "efforts of amateur paleontologist Clyde Wynia to excavate and recreate as best as possible the now extinct creatures that inhabited the large McMillan Marsh near Marshfield, Wisconsin during the Iron Age." Open most days from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but call ahead to be sure. Located at M222 Sugar Bush Ln., Marshfield, WI 54449.
10. Chatty Belle, the talking Cow - Neillsville
You're never quite sure if she's ready to talk, but there is a box where you can drop a quarter and hope to hear all kinds of interesting milk and cow facts from Chatty Belle. In addition, there's the Wisconsin Pavilion from the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, with a small store for souvenirs. Located at 1201 Division St., Neillsville, WI.
11. Giant Statues - Black River Falls
Photo property of author
Just off I-94 in Black River Falls are three iconic parts of the landscape here. Stop for gas or a snack and wander back to find the giant orange moose, the mouse and cheese, and the jumping deer. There's no great story - they're just a great little roadside attraction perfect for some quick pictures while stretching your legs. Located at 400 Oasis Rd., Black River Falls, WI 54615.