As you squeeze in one last summer road trip to the mountains or the beach, take time to stop and smell the roses-or feed the rooftop-dwelling goats, or cheese it up next to the Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue, or whatever grabs your attention along the way. Within just a few hours of Chattanooga, the possibilities for roadside oddities are endless, so grab your car keys, recruit some passengers and check out a few of these out-of-the-ordinary attractions.
World's Largest Office Chair
Anniston, Alabama ' 120 miles southwest
We felt obligated to point you in the direction of at least one "world's largest" something, so here it is: a 33-foot-tall chair fit for the cubicle of the Jolly Green Giant, or maybe Zeus. Miller's Office Supply built it in 1981, and passersby have been trying to sit in it and/or score the shady parking spot under it ever since.
Museum of Salt and Pepper Shakers
Gatlinburg, Tennessee ' 152 miles northeast
More than 20,000 salt and pepper shakers and 1,500 pepper mills call this museum home. Started about 25 years ago by an archaeologist and her husband, the collection showcases the changes in condiment containers-and society-from prehistoric times through today. Shakers range from the cheesy (Loch Ness monster-shaped) to the historic (an ancient stone grinder) to feats of engineering (holeless specimens from Germany) and everything in between.
Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue
Plains, Georgia ' 271 miles south
This 13-foot legume has worn Jimmy's trademark grin since its construction for an
Illinois parade in his honor in 1976. Driving anywhere near Plains without a quick visit to the Peanut Farmer would be unforgivable, no matter what your politics.
Bell Witch Cave
Adams, Tennessee ' 172 miles northwest
Cave tours can be a little creepy under any circumstances. This one on the old Bell family farm takes the eeriness up about 10 notches. If the stories are to be believed, it was haunted by the Bell Witch, whose spirit tormented the family for years during the early 1800s. Hear the legends and see some pretty cool rock formations as you walk through during the day, or get your adrenaline pumping with a candlelit tour at night.
Ave Maria Grotto
Cullman, Alabama ' 138 miles southwest
The grotto is as unique as a good roadside attraction should be, but without the stereotypical hokeyness. Four acres of land at the St. Bernard Abbey showcase the life's work of Brother Joseph Zoettle, who handcrafted models of 125 of the most famous religious and cultural sites in history (plus a few humorous tableaux). Gaze in awe at St. Peter's Basilica, the Great Wall of China and the entire city of Jerusalem-all in miniature.
Vidalia Onion Museum
Vidalia, Georgia ' 290 miles southeast
Show your appreciation for Georgia's official state vegetable at a museum dedicated to it. Visitors take in exhibits featuring everything from healthy recipes to the onion's history and economic impact on the area. On the slightly less educational side, you get to meet the Vidalia Yumion, whom RoadsideAmerica.com dubs "one of the most terrifying mascots ever created." You don't want to miss this!
Grave of Miss Baker, Space Monkey
Huntsville, Alabama ' 102 miles southwest
If your kids (or you!) are attending Space Camp at the USUS Space and Rocket Center this summer, don't leave the area without a visit to Miss Baker's grave. The Peruvian-born squirrel monkey was the first U.S. animal to safely return from space, and her husbands, Norman and Big George, are buried beside her. Like many before you, place a banana on her grave in her memory if you are so inclined.
BabyLand General Hospital
Cleveland, Georgia ' 131 miles southeast
We strongly feel that everyone should make at least one pilgrimage to the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids, simply because you will never see anything else like it. Ever. Staffers at the "hospital" are dressed like real doctors and nurses, and witnessing a birth at the Magic Crystal Tree is ... unforgettable. Kids love it, though, and you might end up leaving with your very own "newborn."
Goats on the Roof
Tiger, Georgia ' 138 miles east
You read that correctly: there are goats on the roof, and if you send food up to them, you can be an official Goat Ranger (we take no responsibility for your disappointment if this award turns out to be just for kids). We'd make the stop for the goats alone, but if that's not your cup of tea, you can also buy Amish-made jams, pan for gold or visit the ice cream shop.
Closer to Home
If you don't have time for a road trip, don't worry-there's plenty to explore around the Scenic City. Intrigued? Check out roadsideamerica.com for details.
Blood-stained crypt of Nina Cragmiles-Cleveland
Dragon Dreams Museum and Gift Shop-Chattanooga
German POW graves at the Chattanooga National Cemetery-Chattanooga
The Incline Railway-St. Elmo
International Towing and Recovery Museum-Chattanooga
Rock City-Lookout Mountain
Ruby Falls-Lookout Mountain
The "Spaceship" House-Signal Mountain