6 Quirky Roadside Attractions in New York
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With so much to see and do in New York, it’s no wonder the Empire State is Canada’s favorite U.S. travel destination.
More than 4 million Canadians visit the Empire State every year, many of them crossing by auto. And as roasters already know, New York’s charming villages and pretty scenery make it the perfect place for an old fashioned road trip. Not convinced? The state is home to three Nationally Designated Scenic Byways and nearly 30 New York-State designated scenic byways.
If you’re ready to start planning your New York road trip, here’s a list of six of New York’s quirkiest roadside attractions.
World's Smallest Church
This tiny structure, which seats just two people plus the minister, was built in Oneida, N.Y. in 1989. Situated on a wooden platform in the middle of a pond, the only way to get here is by boat. Weddings are possible at the tiny church, where the bride and groom are married inside the structure, while the wedding party gathers in boats surrounding the structure.
A descriptive billboard near the road, informs passersby of the salient details. “Built in 1989. Floor Area 51 inches by 81 inches (28.68 sq. ft.) Seats 2 People. Non-Denominational and Open to the Public upon request. Available for Special Occasions and Meditation. Cross Island Chapel is dedicated as a witness to God.”
The World's Largest Kaleidoscope
Recognized by Guinness World Records, The world’s largest kaleidoscope is found inside the Emerson Country Store in Mt. Tremper, N.Y. Built inside a giant silo, measuring 17 meters tall, the kaleidoscope wows guests with its brilliant moving images and accompanying musical score.
The kaleidoscope was built in 1996 by award-winning kaleidoscope artist Charles Karadimos, while the images were created by Isaac Abrams, a pioneer in the psychedelic art movement of the 60's, and his son, Raphael, a computer artist. The music was scored by a local composer and drummer, Gary Burke, who has worked with Frances Ford Coppola and Bob Dylan.
In 1897 a carpenter by the name of Pearle Wait was tinkering with gelatine to create a home cough remedy. Instead he happened upon a new snack item, one his wife dubbed Jell-O. The discovery, which took place in Le Roy, N.Y., continues to be celebrated at the city’s Jell-O Museum, which houses a collection of early photos, paintings and Jell-O paraphernalia. A video chronicles the marketing history of this dessert, including Jack Benny (Jell-O’s pitchman in the 1930s), an enthusiastic spokesman for this "red letter" dessert.
World's Largest Pancake Griddle
The city of Penn Yan, in Yale County, N.Y., once held claim to fame as the place where the largest pancake in the world was created. During the city’s Buckwheat Festival, in 1987, Birkett Mills flipped a 28-foot, 4,050-pound pancake to make history. The pancake had a 1.7-million calorie count and was covered with 60 pounds of butter and 15 gallons of syrup. Although the record has since been claimed elsewhere, the side of the Birkett Mills building still displays the 27-foot steel pancake griddle, an ideal photo opportunity for pancake fans everywhere.
The Big Duck
On Long Island, a must-see roadside attraction is the Big Duck. The duck-shaped building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1931 by duck farmer Martin Maurer as a shop where he could sell his ducks and eggs. Originally located in nearby Riverhead, today the Big Duck remains a retail establishment, selling a distinctive variety duck souvenirs.
The Mushroom House
In Perinton, N.Y., just south of Rochester, a trip to Powder Mills Park will including a viewing of the private residence nicknamed “The Mushroom House.” From the road, the house looks exactly like mushrooms growing from the hills, complete with podded units resembling lily pads. Mushroom house is a misnomer, as the building was actually designed to resemble Queen Anne’s lace.
Learn more about New York’s Scenic Byways on the New York Department of Transportation website.
More by Monica Poling
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