by Traci Suppa
I’m one of those parents who thought Clark Griswold had the right idea for a family vacation. Drive cross-country with every expectation of adventure, and the willingness to drive four hours off course to see the world’s second largest ball of twine.
Sure, I want my daughter to experience her princess character breakfast at Walt Disney World. I hope to bring my son to the towns of Italy where his great-grandparents lived. But I also want them with me when I finally get the see that ball of twine. For the record, the world’s largest ball of twine is in Cawker, KS. There’s also one in Darwin, MN with the equally-impressive title of world’s largest twine ball rolled by one man.
“World’s largest” attractions are always on our “to-see” list, and my kids have become accustomed to standing in front of oversized bowling pins/garden gnomes/globes/boots while smiling for the camera. I highly recommend seeking out a quirky roadside attraction during your next trip. The resulting photos – so fun, so clever – may just appear on the cover of your next Christmas card. You can utilize RoadsideAmerica.com to find sites across the U.S.
The thrill of reaching these sites can be short-lived, so we try to find attractions with a little more to offer. The world’s largest bowling pin, for example, sits in front of Splitsville Luxury Lanes in Tampa, FL. We enjoyed a fun family evening of bowling and a lane-side dinner. After we gawked at the immensity of the world’s largest rotating globe in Yarmouth, ME, we headed ten minutes north to shop the outlets in Freeport. After my kids climbed through the world’s largest kid – “Eddie,” the 45-foot exhibit inside the EdVenture children’s museum of Columbia, SC – we spent several more hours enjoying the facility.
Should you prefer more educational vacation experiences, well, I’m there with you. Travel is the best education. But as I can attest from my own childhood being dragged through archaeological ruins the world over, you have to make the experience accessible in order for it to be remembered. Part of the reason we went to see the world’s largest light bulb in Edison, NJ was the opportunity to visit the adjoining museum in the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park.
We spent an hour poring over exhibits of early light bulbs and other inventions with a helpful tour guide, who even let us listen one of Edison’s original phonographs. The bonus was posing my son under the 14-foot light bulb, which sits on top of the 117-foot Memorial Tower. I love that it looks like he’s just had a bright idea!
It’s a precarious balance; giving kids the trips they want, while still getting to see what you want. Success is when your itinerary entertains everyone!
Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.