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5 of the Best “World’s Biggest” Attractions

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Sometimes we take travel too seriously. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make the most of limited time and budget. For the past few years, my family has tried to keep it simple with off-the-beaten-path road trips. Along the way, we’ve discovered the quirky fun of roadside attractions, and now purposely seek out the “world’s biggest” stuff. Most attractions we visit are just for laughs, but some have educational value or historical lessons. All make for great photo ops! Here are five of our favorites.

eartha the world's largest rotating globe

1. Eartha, the World's Largest Rotating Globe – Yarmouth, Maine

Eartha is a three-dimensional scale model of the earth with mountains and landforms in full 3D. The 41-foot globe sits in the glass-enclosed lobby of the DeLorme Map Company. Eartha is immense, so regardless of your age, your first reaction is “Wow!” To even see the northern hemisphere, you have to access the second and third floor observation balconies. Our fearless daughter tried scaling the railing to get a better look, while my cautious son stood back to literally watch the world go by.

This giant globe tilts at 23.5 degrees, just as the earth does. She revolves on a specially-designed cantilever arm, and rotates on an axis. At maximum speed, a full revolution and rotation will take just one minute. After dark, the globe is lit up from inside. The DeLorme gift shop is worth a look, for its extensive selection of travel toys, globes, atlases, and any souvenir they can smack a map on.

Another big attraction can be found just up the road in Freeport, home to the immense L.L.Bean flagship store. There’s a 17-foot tall L.L. Bean duck boot in the front courtyard.

the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge

2. The World's Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge – Poughkeepsie to Highland, New York

A breathtaking birds-eye view is your reward for braving The Walkway Over the Hudson, which ascends 212 feet above the water at midpoint. While it took some time for me and my son to get our sea legs up there, it was a perfect vantage point for a game of “I Spy.”

It's the span length – 6,767 feet, or 1.25 miles. Access this new linear state park from Highland or Poughkeepsie; you’re welcome to bring your bike or skates. The bridge connects 27 miles of rail trails and riverfront parks on both sides.

world's largest light bulb

3. World's Largest Light Bulb – Edison, New Jersey

A monumental replica of Thomas Edison's first practical incandescent bulb, the world's largest light bulb is nearly 14 feet of Pyrex glass segments. It sits on top of the 117-foot concrete Memorial Tower at the Thomas Edison Center at Menlo Park, and was built in 1937 by former Edison employees. While you’re here, devote 30-60 minutes to visiting the adjoining museum, where you can see historic photographs, early light bulbs and other inventions, and even listen to Edison’s phonographs.

History museums can be hit-or-miss with kids, but this site delivered an accessible and engaging experience. The highlight? When our guide played an antique phonograph just for us. Even my pre-schooler stood still long enough to listen to the scratchy melody.

world's tallest inclined tower

4. World's Tallest Inclined Tower – Montreal, Quebec

For our first family foray across the border we set our sights on Montréal, Canada, home to the world's tallest inclined tower. The tower is part of the Olympic Park (Parc Olympique) built for the 1976 summer games. In photos, the tower looked tame. Perspective is a funny thing. The top of the tower is accessed by a funicular, which travels upwards at a 45 degree angle to an elevation of 574 feet. It travels at a rate of nine feet per second, so the ascension only takes two minutes. For some of us, it was a long two minutes!

Once you brave your way to the top, you'll enjoy a spectacular view of Montréal and 50 miles beyond, including the Laurentian Mountains. On the observation floor, window banks face several different directions, with maps and descriptive guides indicating points of interest. You can see the Saint Lawrence River snaking its way around Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame, and the beautiful botanical gardens a short walk away.

world's largest bowling pin

5. World’s Largest Bowling Pin – Tampa, Florida

In front of the hip Splitsville Luxury Lanes bowling alley on Florida's West coast stands the world's largest bowling pin, which towers 30-feet over the courtyard of the Channelside entertainment complex. With its glam décor and a funky soundtrack, this is not your father's bowling alley. It offers just 12 regulation-size lanes and a few pool tables, so there's a cozy ambiance rather than an echoing cacophony of bowling balls striking pins.

Despite the cool factor, this is still an ideal place for family entertainment, especially when the Florida weather is too hot or rainy. You can program the lanes to raise the gutter guards when it's the kids' turns to bowl, and the younger ones can roll their balls down two-foot high metal ramps. There's something for everyone on the varied menu, including sushi and a full bar. Your meal is served lane-side, so you can continue your strike streak uninterrupted.

What is your favorite largest, longest, or tallest tourist attraction? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Traci Suppa has a strange compulsion for roadside attractions. She 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. Follow her on Twitter at @GoBIG_GoHome.

 

Comments

  1. Debbie Ferm says:

    I love globes and maps, and this one really intrigues me! I will have to add it to my never ending list of places to visit. Thanks:)

  2. I’m sure the “Corn Palace” in Mitchell, South Dakota would qualify for a quirky attraction mention or as an “est” as in biggest, tallest, strangest. Every year the building’s exterior is decorated with thousands of ears of corn set in vignettes of unusual scenes. The interior is accessible too but not very interesting.

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