If you’re like us, your preferred method of travel is by car. Who wants to be jammed into an airborne cattle car with obnoxious strangers after dealing with cancelled flights, delays and the other realities of modern air travel? Instead, there’s nothing quite like hitting the open road in your own car, stopping when you’re tired and eating at local dives to find out who really has the best chili-cheese dog in America.
No road trip would be complete without some ensuing weirdness. Sure, you want to make it home in time for your brother’s wedding, but that doesn’t mean you have to bypass the largest alligator in captivity, or Carhenge, or the perennial favorite Space Farms in Beemerville, New Jersey, does it? If life is more about the journey than the destination, no app is better suited to keeping you amused along the way than Roadside America.
We’ll warn you up front that the app can get pricey. It costs $2.99 to buy, but that only gets you one region (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest or California). If you want the entire country, that costs you $5.99 on top of your $2.99, and that $5.99 is for an annual subscription. Still, no other app can give you the odd at your fingertips quite like Roadside America, and the full app lists over 6,700 locations of interest to keep you amused on the road.
Launch the app, and your current location is marked. This calls up a list of attractions within 25 miles, or, alternately, the first 25 attractions regardless of distance. You can browse by themes, including Dreamers, Tech, Music, Celebrities and some 66 others, or you can browse by city. You can even search by attraction name, just in case you can’t remember where the Cave of the Winds was located.
Clicking on a map push pin will call up a detail screen, with more information and directions to the attraction. There are often photos, too, so you can decide if seeing giant fiberglass dinosaurs is worth a two-hour drive. If photographing the weirdness is your thing, the app even includes a sunset alert to remind you how much daylight you have left. Get bogged down by a lonely tour guide, and the app can schedule a diversionary phone call, enabling your escape.
Roadside America is currently available for iPhone only. If you’re cheap like us, you can still get all the information for free from the Roadside America website, but you’ll have to work at it a bit harder.