Posted 22 Oct 2012

Australia has a Big Golden Guitar. Canada has the world’s largest dinosaur, reaching 25 metres high. And the US has among its many odd and wonderful roadside attractions: a petrol station in the shape of a teapot, the Blue Whale on Route 66, and an enormous turtle made up of 2,000 wheel rims in North Dakota.

The UK and Ireland may not be able to compete on such a wacky scale, but we’re not without our own weird and wonderful attractions. We’re just used to them, is all!

Stonehenge, for example, could be considered a roadside attraction. This prehistoric monument was built way back in the BC years – sometime between 3,000 and 2,000 BC in fact. It’s on the World Heritage List and is one of the most famous sites in the world, but if aliens landed tomorrow they’d be just as baffled about the stones’ formation – that’s if they didn’t put them there themselves, of course.

Roadside art can be a great attraction for travellers around the UK and Ireland. On the A1 in Gateshead the Angel of North has a strong presence, 20 metres high and with a wingspan that stretches to 54 metres. It was built in 1998 to celebrate the area’s mining background.

Ireland’s Per Cent For Art scheme, operating since 1988, has led to a number of monuments and sculptures being constructed on Irish roads over the past two decades. Capall Mor on the N22 to Tralee in County Kerry is an unusual piece of art. This enormous structure, sitting on an embankment with its unicorn horn, looks like its set to break free and make for the motorway.

In London, some of the newest buildings have become real roadside attractions. How many people have ventured for a look at the Gherkin?

Dotted throughout the country sporting grounds can also be seen for miles around, and have become roadside attractions in their own right – the Olympic Park in London and the Aviva Stadium in Dublin being two that spring to mind.

At the other end of the scale, Quay House in Wales – the smallest house in the UK – has become a major tourist attraction. It measures a tiny 10 foot by 6 foot. Our rooms at Jurys Inn are much bigger we can assure you.

What unusual roadside attractions around the world do you think are worth a mention?

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