Photo Ops and Quirky Stops: 15 Must-See Wisconsin Roadside Attractions

No road trip with friends or family is complete without a quirky side stop or two, and Wisconsin has some of the most memorable roadside attractions of them all. Check out these out-of-the-ordinary stops that will only expand your love of this state.

1. World's Largest Fish – Hayward

The largest building in the town of Hayward is a giant fiberglass musky, a part of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward. The musky is four and a half stories tall and as long as a Boeing 757. Enter through the musky's tail and make your way up to the observation platform in the fish's open jaw that can hold up to 20 people. A group selfie in front of this behemoth is a must while in Hayward.

Bonus tip: You and your crew can fish the 88,000-gallon pond under the musky for extra fun!

2. Al Johnson's Goats on the Roof – Sister Bay

2 Goats Roof

Road tripping to Door County? The goats grazing on the sod roof of Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay have been turning heads for decades. These goats have earned celebrity status with their own online "Goat Cam" and a "Roofing of the Goats" parade in June.

Bonus tip: Order the restaurant’s Swedish pancakes; they're the second most-famous thing about this authentic Scandinavian restaurant.

3. Pinkie the Elephant – DeForest

3 Pinkie the Elephant

Travelers on I-90/94 in need of gas should exit at Highway V to find Pinkie the Pink Elephant at the nearby Shell Station in DeForest. This giant fiberglass sculpture, styled with hipster black-rimmed glasses, is hard to miss. What started as a way to get customers to the gas station has evolved into the perfect selfie spot. 

Bonus tip: Indulge in a piece of super delicious pie at Norske Nook restaurant, just five miles away.

4. World's Largest Six Pack – La Crosse

4 Largest Six Pack

The World's Largest Six Pack is actually a set of metal beer tanks constructed in 1969 by the G. Heileman Brewing Company (the original brewer of Old Style) for inventory storage. Now owned by City Brewery and re-designed to look like a six pack of La Crosse Lager, they contain the equivalent of 7,340,796 cans of beer. Wow!

Bonus tip: Head south on WI-35 to the National Brewery Museum in Potosi for the world's largest cone-top beer can. It's more than 40 feet tall!

5. Mars Cheese Castle – Kenosha

In a state where cheese is king, it makes perfect sense to store it in a castle. Welcome to Mars Cheese Castle, conveniently located at the Illinois-Wisconsin state border in Kenosha. Stock up on artisan cheese and bags of cheese curds for the road on your way in and out of Wisconsin.

Bonus tip: Pick up a Danish kringle, the flaky, fruit- or nut-filled official state pastry of Wisconsin, from O&H Danish Bakery in nearby Racine to share while on the road with your crew.

6. World's Largest Talking Loon – Mercer

Her name is Claire d'Loon and she has a fabulous singing voice and a big stage presence (at 16-feet tall and 2,000 pounds). This lovely lady is the World's Largest Talking Loon, and while she only speaks in loon sounds, she's happy to oblige any tourists/paparazzi wanting a photo.

Bonus tip: Rent a canoe and paddle down the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage to try to catch sight of a real loon.

7. Sputnik Crash Site – Manitowoc

September 6, 1962 changed the course of Manitowoc's history when a 20-pound piece of the Sputnik IV satellite crash-landed in the middle of Main Street. To celebrate this odd twist of fate, the city has preserved the crash spot and saved an official replica of the space debris in the nearby Rahr-West Art Museum that’s also home to work from Georgia O'Keeffe and Pablo Picasso.

Bonus tip: Time your visit for September during the annual Sputnikfest, which honors the moment outer space collided with Manitowoc.

8. World's Largest Penny – Woodruff

At 15 feet high, 12 inches thick and nearly 9 tons in weight, the World's Largest Penny maintains a prominent place in tiny Woodruff. The concrete currency commemorates a 1953 fundraiser engineered by Dr. Kate Pelham Newcomb, who challenged local schoolchildren to save their pennies to build a hospital. Word got out nationwide and ultimately resulted in 1.7 million pennies collected. Who would've thought you could build a hospital with loose change?

Bonus tip: Check out the nearby Dr. Kate Museum to learn the whole story.

9. Rock in the House – Fountain City

Rock in the House is exactly what it sounds like. The 55-ton boulder rolled down a hill in Fountain City on April 24, 1995, and wedged itself inside the home's master bedroom, where it remains today. A savvy local realtor purchased the house and turned it into a one-of-a-kind open house.

Bonus tip: Not to be confused with House on the Rock in Spring Green, another famous architectural gem with eclectic collections that's worth checking out.

10. World's Largest M – Platteville

10 Largest M

If you've ever wanted to stand next to the famous Hollywood sign above Los Angeles, then you might want to consider a trip to Platte Mound to see the World's Largest M. The M was created by students of the former Wisconsin Mining School, now known as the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, thus the "M." You can see the 241-foot-by-214-foot letter from nearly 30 miles away. 

Bonus tip: Put on a hard hat and take an underground tour of the 1845 Bevans lead mine at the Rollo Jamison Mining Museum.

11. Dr. Evermor's Forevertron – North Freedom

Behind the salvage business in this little community sits a collection of out-of-this-world art created by the late Dr. Evermor (yes, he was a real person). The old pieces and parts from the salvage gig were the inspiration for his magical sculpture garden. The centerpiece? Forevertron, a 400-ton, 50-foot scrap metal sculpture often recognized as the largest in the world. You and your group can tour the grounds for free and are sure to find many surprising sights.

Bonus tip: Hike nearby Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo for a selfie with the natural rock sculptures of the quartzite cliffs.

12. "Ben Bikin," World's Largest Bicyclist – Sparta

12 Ben Bikin

To mark its claim as the Bicycling Capital of America, Sparta proudly displays "Ben Bikin" aka "Big Ben" – the World's Largest Bicyclist – at the entrance to town. The 32-foot-tall Victorian-era bicyclist has a speaker at the base  allowing "Ben" to provide an audio history of Sparta.

Bonus tip: Bring your bike (and your friends!) and ride the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, the first rails-to-trails conversion in the country.

13. Concrete Park – Phillips

Upon retiring in his 60s, Fred Smith decided to commemorate his experience as a lumberjack, tavern owner, farmer and dance hall musician by adding one more title to his name — artist. Without any training, Smith created Concrete Park, a one-of-a-kind display of folk art in Phillips composed of some 200 hand-made sculptures made from all kinds of materials.

Bonus tip: Head thirty miles south to get a bird’s-eye-view of the area from Timms Hill, the highest natural point in Wisconsin.

14. The World’s Largest Hodag Statue – Rhinelander

What the heck is a Hodag? Described as a cross between a dog and a frog with horns and glowing eyes, this mysterious creature that started as a local legend is now the Northwoods city of Rhinelander’s hometown mascot. This one-of-a-kind monster has even made an appearance in an episode of Scooby-Doo! Stop by the Rhinelander Chamber of Commerce with your crew to snap a selfie in front of the iconic beast.

Bonus tip: Visit the Hodag Store to pick up some monster merch as a souvenir.

15. The World’s Largest Potato Masher - Plover

Wisconsin is known for its dairy farming, but did you know it also ranks in the top three states for production of crops like cranberries, carrots, peas, potatoes and more? Get a picture of the World’s Largest Potato Masher and explore more fascinating facts about Wisconsin’s agriculture at the newly built Food+Farm Exploration Center. With immersive exhibits for all ages, this is one stop worth making on your next family trip.

Bonus tip: Grab some delicious dairy at Belt's Soft Serve in Stevens Point to make your trip a little sweeter.

Uncover more must-see places locals love with our top trip ideas for Wisconsin's hidden gems!

This entry was posted in Tours