By Tony Barthel
Have you ever come home from a journey and told friends about your prior destination and they then turned around and asked if you had seen a certain landmark or tourist trap that they knew you would love? It stinks missing some of these unusual places that make travel to other localities so special.
How do you make sure not to miss these attractions? One of the ways is with this week’s app, “Roadside America.”
The app is exactly what lovers of the unusual or unique would crave, a listing of the strange, the unusual, the uniquely local, and the must-see things around you.
The app uses geo-locating technology that’s built into your iPhone to know where you are at any given time. From there, it recommends things to see around you. For example, near me right now as I write this is a plaque put up by the city I’m visiting that pays tribute to the prostitutes who used to ply their trade in a nearby hotel.
If that’s not what you’re looking for there’s also a hand fan museum, a 26-foot-tall coyote and even the world’s largest Redwood tree service station. Some towns are just lucky. But why wouldn’t you want to know all this?
In addition to the information provided by the app’s creators, there is also crowdsourced information so that’s where you’ll learn that the Redwood tree station is referred to as “The Stump” by locals. You’ll also learn that when the Redwood Tree Station was a proper tree, it was over 250 feet tall.
If you know something additional about the attractions you’re visiting, or you just want to be part of a crowdsourced rating, you can add your input as well.
We like and use this app quite a bit. While we know lots of travelers who speed to their destinations and worry about making record time, we’re the opposite. If there’s a big ball of twine or a used-to-be something-or-other or even an office building that used to have lots of prostitutes in it, we’re likely to stop and take a look.
Roadside America is only for those who have an iOS product but you Android folks aren’t completely out of the loop. They also have a Roadside America website, although that doesn’t have the same geo-locating technology of course. Furthermore, the ads on their website, when you’re using a phone’s browser, are quite annoying to me.
Also, while the Roadside America app is $2.99 on the Apple App Store, that only entitles you to one section of the country. For example, if I’m in California all you get for $2.99 is California. Well, and Hawaii – but I worry about the water damage of towing my trailer to Hawaii.
You can add additional regions for $1.99 or get all the company’s regions for $6.99.
This might be a good tool to use as part of the planning process, or just pop open the app as you drive down the road (if you’re the passenger) and see what’s around you as part of a break from driving.
In fact, this is the tool we used to find the upside-down house where we got a burger from Mono Cone (and one of their world-famous shakes) and sat and had lunch staring at this most unusual destination. These kinds of unusual places are what make travel such a wonderful and special experience. Using the Roadside America app has been a great tool for us as part of the adventure. You can download it by clicking the button below.