The Best And Weirdest Rest Stops Around The World, According To Seasoned Roadtrippers

Flying may be a fast and easy way to travel, but nothing beats a road trip. There are so many great things about hitting the road, from traveling at your own pace to soaking up the scenery and stopping whenever and wherever you please. And when you do make those much-needed rest stops, you may discover that some of the best sights aren't necessarily at your destination but waiting to be enjoyed along the way.

Rest stops are essential to any road trip, but who says they have to be bland and boring like a generic gas station or fast-food joint? Some rest stops around the world offer unique experiences that can turn a simple stop into a highlight of your journey. From architectural wonders to bizarre museums and quirky roadside attractions you need to see to believe, these weird and wonderful rest stops are some of the best in the world, according to roadtrippers on platforms like Tripadvisor, Reddit, and Yelp.

The Kelpies, Scotland

If you're driving between Falkirk and Grangemouth in Scotland, you can't miss the giant horse heads rising from the center of Helix Park. Crafted from stainless steel, The Kelpies rise to a height of 100 feet and weigh over 330 tons. Sculptor Andy Scott was inspired by the history of Clydesdale horses and their role in Scottish society and industry. The sculptures were named after the mythical Scottish water spirits called kelpies, which can change shapes and often appear in the shape of horses. Since 2014, the kelpies have been standing proud at an entrance to the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The Kelpies are located off the M9 freeway on the outskirts of Grangemouth. You can park at Helix Park, but you may have to pay a seasonal charge. Alternatively, you can park across the street at Falkirk Stadium for free. Once inside the park, you can head to the viewing platform to see the sculptures. The platform has accessible features for mobility-impaired visitors. You can also book a tour in the visitor's center to see the horses from the inside. The visitor's center has restrooms, a cafe, and a gift shop. It's worth taking some time to explore the rest of the park, as it has a playground, a splash park for kids, boardwalks, and trails that wind through the woods.

Alzu Petroport, South Africa

There aren't too many rest stops in the world where you can fuel up your car and see rhinos, elands, zebras, and buffalo grazing close by. Alzu Petroport is located halfway between Middelburg and Belfast on the N4 in South Africa, and it's a must-visit stop for any animal lover. The rest of the station looks like a typical gas station from the front, but head to the balcony out back, and you'll see a game enclosure with a watering hole where wild animals gather. You can also see the animals from huge glass windows in the restrooms.

Inside the rest stop, a Rhino Museum provides information about rhino conservation and displays animal skulls. There are also restaurants and cafes where you can grab coffee, sandwiches, and waffles. If you're heading to Kruger National Park or any other area where you'll spend a lot of time in nature, you can pick up gear at the Alzu Country & Outdoor Shop. Thanks to the game enclosure fence, you won't be able to get too close to the rhinos, but you can take a selfie with the life-size rhino statue outside the museum.

Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza, United States

If you're driving north of Las Vegas along the I-15 and fancy some fireworks, Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza has you covered. Besides the requisite rest stop offerings like food, gas, and local arts and crafts, the plaza has a huge fireworks warehouse where you can buy your choice of explosives and set them off on a designated launchpad nearby. Once you're done lighting off your fireworks, you can head to the casino for a few rounds of poker or hit the slot machines.

Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza is located off the I-15, where it turns onto the Valley of Fire Highway. The rest stop gets plenty of positive reviews for its facilities and services, but the main reason many people visit is to buy fireworks. Many counties in Nevada ban the sale of fireworks except during a short window before the Fourth of July. However, the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza is on land owned by the Moapa Band of Paiutes, so the vendors can sell a wide variety of fireworks any time of year. Just be aware taking fireworks into other Nevada counties may be illegal.

Giant Dog, Sheep, and Ram, New Zealand

The Waikato region of New Zealand has some fascinating sites, including Rotorua with its gushing geysers and the Hobbiton Movie Set, just one of the sites where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. Close to these attractions is another lesser-known site that makes for an interesting rest stop. The small town of Tirau sits at the confluence of several major highways, and it is home to three colossal iron buildings shaped like a dog, sheep, and ram. The town has other smaller sculptures created from corrugated iron, including a cow pushing a shopping cart and a praying mantis.

Tirau got its first iron animal in the 1990s when John and Nancy Drake constructed the huge sheep as a shop where Nancy could sell her wool products. It was an instant hit with tourists. Soon after, the giant dog was built as a visitor's center to provide roadtrippers with information about the area and provide them with a place to use the restrooms. The ram was the final addition. If you have time to spare after visiting the gargantuan trio, stroll through the town to visit the unique shops, art galleries, and cafes.

Signpost Forest, Canada

Along the Alaska Highway is a unique forest made entirely out of signs. Amble through its colorful alleyways, and you'll see street signs for faraway destinations like Leeds, Titusville, and Strážný. There are also plenty of license plates and handmade signs on display. The Signpost Forest is located in the small town of Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory, and it's a popular stopping place for people traveling through Canada's northwest region.

The Signpost Forest was created in 1942 when American soldier Carl K. Lindley was sent to the military base at Watson Lake to recuperate from an injury. While there, he was tasked with repairing directional signposts for the base, and he decided to add one for his hometown of Danville, Illinois. Over the years, others also added signs of their hometowns. The forest has now snowballed into a labyrinth of nearly 100,000 signs. Visitors are welcome to erect their own signs in the forest. In fact, the visitor's center will even lend you a hammer.

Roadside Station Tomizawa, Japan

One of the great things about driving in Japan is the plenty of rest stops along major highways and roads. Michi no Eki are roadside stations offering more than just gas and toilets. They typically include restaurants, shops, and local attractions. One particularly delightful example is in the small town of Nanbu in the Yamanashi prefecture. You'll recognize Michi no Eki Tomizawa for its giant replica of a bamboo shoot that rises to a height of over 44 feet.

The town of Nanbu is famous for its bamboo shoots, and the locals are proud to show it off. Weary travelers can rest inside the giant bamboo shoot replica or head into the main building for local dishes like burgers with bamboo shoots, noodles, and chestnut rice. There is also a market inside where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables and locally produced wine. The roadside station typically closes at 6 p.m., but there is a free 24-hour parking area where you can rest and stretch your legs.

Orival Gas Station, Belgium

Orival Gas Station is one of the most design-forward gas stations in the world. This striking service station stretches across Route E19 in Belgium and features a glass-walled dining hall hovering above the highway, lovely parks with picnic areas, sculptures, and artworks, as well as fuel pumps and an electric charging station. The sustainability-focused architecture adds to the aesthetics. According to the description on the website of the architects, Samyn and Partners, "The purpose of the whole is to provide a pleasant and secure place for motorists to rest while fitting softly into the landscape."

Located just outside the small town of Nivelles, the Orival Gas Station is a convenient stopping place for drivers traveling between Brussels and Paris. The fuel station is open 24 hours, and the convenience store has grab-and-go snacks and coffee for those making a quick stop. If you want a longer break, the Frit Autentic restaurant above the service station is a beautiful space with huge glass windows and abstract art panels in calming pastel colors. The menu includes burgers, fries, and steaks.

Iowa 80 Truck Stop, United States

Iowa 80 is the largest truck stop in the world. It sits just outside of Walcott, Iowa, and has all the trappings of a small city. There are eight restaurants on site, a barber shop, a dentist, a movie theater, a chiropractor, and even a pet wash center. With over 900 parking spots, there is plenty of space to park your car, truck, or RV and rest for a while. Even better, many of the facilities are open 24 hours, so you can fuel up, eat, and take a break no matter what time you pass through.

This mammoth rest stop was designed with long-haul drivers in mind, so you'll find a ton of services that will help you on your journey. The service center can handle anything from extensive repairs to simple oil changes. There are Tesla and ChargePoint fast chargers for electric vehicle drivers. There are also private showers where you can freshen up after a long drive. While waiting for your car to charge, you can visit the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum to see antique trucks and a vast array of trucking memorabilia.

Nullarbor Roadhouse, Australia

Step back in time at the Nullarbor Roadhouse. This former sheep station is located in the Nullarbor Plain, a vast, dry region in South Australia that is crossed by the Eyre Highway. During the 1950s, the station manager began selling gas and snacks to people driving through, and soon after, the Nullarbor Roadhouse was born. Today, it is as popular as ever with a restaurant, bar, camping facilities, motel, and a caravan site. There is also a restored version of the original station with vintage artifacts that date back to Nullarbor's early days.

Part of the Nullarbor Roadhouse's appeal is its remoteness, a true off-the-grid experience. Despite the modern amenities, you can get a keen sense of what life at the station must have been like back in the day. That being said, there are plenty of things to see and do in the Nullarbor Region. The Nullarbor Links Golf Course is the longest in the world, with each hole in a different town or roadhouse. It stretches from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in West Australia. Nullarbor is also home to some of Australia's most spectacular beaches, fascinating caves, and fantastic rock formations.

The Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

Head along the A12 highway in Lithuania just north of Šiauliai, and you'll pass Kryžių Kalnas (the Hill of Crosses). This unique landmark is covered in thousands of Christian religious icons like crosses, rosaries, and statues of the Virgin Mary. It dates back to the 19th century when many believe a vision of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus appeared on the hill. During the Soviet occupation, the crosses were razed to the ground several times. However, each time, locals rebuilt it. Today, it is an important pilgrimage site and a worthwhile rest stop.

It's easy to spot the hill on the side of the highway. It rises from the surrounding fields like a beacon in the relatively flat landscape. You can park on the side of the road and follow the path past a small chapel to the hill. Paths wind around its perimeter, with wooden and stone crosses rising on either side. A set of wooden stairs leads to the top of the mound, where you can view the crosses covered in rosaries from above. If you want to place a cross on the hill, you can bring your own or purchase one from nearby vendors.

World Famous Gopher Hole Museum, Canada

What started as a form of pest control has now become one of Canada's quirkiest attractions. The World Famous Gopher Hole Museum is located in the hamlet of Torrington, Alberta. Step inside, and you'll find dioramas featuring over 70 taxidermied gophers dressed in costumes and posed in scenes representing people in the community. The gophers are actually Richardson's ground squirrels, and they can be a nuisance to farmers in Alberta. When the townspeople of Torrington were trying to come up with ways to boost tourism in the 1990s, a council member joked that they should stuff the gophers, and the rest is history.

If you're driving along Highway 2 or 2A between Calgary and Red Deer, Torrington is just a slight detour and makes for an interesting rest stop. A volunteer crew runs the museum, so hours can change depending on staff availability. It costs just $2 to enter, and they accept cash and cards. It's also worth noting that they typically only open during the summer months but can accommodate visitors by appointment and for a fee in the off-season. Be sure to check their website or Instagram page for updates.

Parque De La Fertilidad, Peru

It's hard not to stop and stare at the suggestive statues in the Parque de la Fertilidad (Fertility Park) just outside Moche, Peru. The statues in this roadside attraction include a grinning red man with a colossal phallus, a woman with an unusually large (and very visible) birth canal, and characters in various states of intercourse. The statues are not just there for shock value. They're actually larger-than-life representations of scenes from ancient Mochica ceramics called "sex pots." The park's goal is to pay homage to the Moche civilization that once thrived in this area of Peru from the first to the eighth century.

The statue that sparked the idea for the park was the aforementioned Red Man. It was placed on the road leading between Trujillo and the famous Temples of the Sun and Moon in 2022. People instantly took to it, stopping on the side of the road to take selfies next to its, erm, massive member. Although vandals did some damage to the statue and some people complained about its graphic nature, the Mayor of Moche stood his ground on the cultural significance of the statues and soon commissioned more. Today, the park is a quirky tourist attraction visited by locals and foreigners alike, and on any given day, you can find people of all ages perusing the park and posing for photos next to the statues.

Pops 66, United States

Just outside Arkadia in Oklahoma, there is an iconic stop on Route 66 in the form of a 66-foot soda bottle. If you approach it at night, the neon lights on the bottle change color, creating an eye-catching sight against the dark sky. Welcome to Pops 66, a quirky rest stop dedicated to soda with over 700 bottles lining the glass walls of the diner inside. Options range from classics like root beer and cola to bizarre flavors like sweet corn and peanut butter and jelly. Grab a bottle to go or sit in the restaurant to fuel up on burgers, hot dogs, and full chicken dinners. 

Pops 66 has all the facilities you would expect in a rest stop. Besides the restaurant and soda shop, there is a gas station, restrooms, and a convenience store. The store sells all sorts of memorabilia like T-shirts, hats, bottle openers and more. Pops 66 is open every day of the week, from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast is served on weekends only from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Parikkala Sculpture Park, Finland

For over half a century, artist Veijo Rönkkönen constructed concrete sculptures around his home outside Parikkala in Finland. He worked alone, crafting hundreds of figures engaged in various activities, including washing clothes, doing yoga, and hula-hooping. The figures include small children, soldiers, nuns, and even a few self-portraits. Rönkkönen passed away in 2010, but visitors can explore his life's work at the Parikkala Sculpture Park. Some people find the statues wonderfully whimsical, while others find them downright creepy.

The park is located along the side of Road 6 in Eastern Finland, a few miles from the Russian border, and it is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's important to note that the park has no lights, so it can be a bit tricky to traverse the gardens and forest in the dark. Voluntary entrance fees are €2 for kids and €5 for adults. There is also a boutique shop that is open in the summer months. There is no restroom on site, but Parikkala is just five miles down the road.

Our methodology

How did we decide on these particular rest stops? First, we researched the most unique sites that roadtrippers couldn't stop talking about on sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Reddit. Then, we looked at which of those rest stops got the best reviews for their entertainment value, facilities, and easy accessibility. We chose stops that not only offer something interesting to see and do but are also located near major roads and highways. We also considered services and facilities like convenience stores, restaurants, and restrooms. Unless otherwise stated, most of the sites are free to visit. With all that in mind, these were the top contenders for the best and weirdest rest stops worldwide.