Roadside America


Are They Still Out There?
For those of our readers who are under 40, you probably missed out on "The Sunday Drive". They were weekend excursions to "get out of the house" and explore "Roadside America". Typically very family oriented car rides including sing-alongs, "eye-spy" games and a picnic lunch either before or after visiting the attraction.

According to legend, sometimes the outings were simply an adventure, driving until nothing seemed familiar, then stopping at a gas station to ask if there were any nearby attractions to visit.
On the days these adventures ran amok they would sometimes include lunch at a drive-in diner and on really good day, the trip included a stop at a Trading Post, a roadside "Five and Dime" where children were tempted to buy souvenirs representing the local area, cheesy replicas of Native American artifacts, candy and gum. They were a lot like the shops you find today in Cracker Barrel's. You'd be given a quarter (25¢) and told to search for whatever your heart desired and your budget allowed.

Candidly, most of the attractions were rather campy, taking cues from local legend, popular movies, and the NY World's Fair of the mid-sixties. Not to disappoint, most are still campy today.

Despite the efforts of parents, the attractions were often disappointing. As an example, Jenny Jump Forest. That's pretty much all there was; a forest, as noted in this recap by a NJ resident who in 2012, decided to retrace his youthful steps:

"When I was young, my mother used to take the entire gaggle of 5 kids on day trips around the state of New Jersey. My recollection of this trip is faint, but I remember the story of “Jenny Jump” as told to us by a tour guide while in the theme park. 

He spun a yarn of a girl being chased by evil Indians that had to jump off of a mountain into the arms of her father to escape her attackers. I figured researching this myth was as good of an excuse as any to go for a ride into the forest of New Jersey. 

I walked into the office and met a pleasant elderly woman. We smiled at each other and I said, “I am curious about the legend of Jenny Jump. Where exactly was the point of her jump?” The woman smiled at my interest, but told me no one really knows and the house where Jenny’s family resided is actually within the Land of Make Believe Park."

The Land of Make Believe is now a water park. The many "Lands", "Forrests" and "Towns", such as Santa Land, Storybook Land and Fantasy Land have undergone similar modernization. "Fairytale Forest" and "Storytown" went through various stages of being open and closed before finally shutting down. 

In the case of the Lake George, NY Storytown, it's now a Six Flags Great Escape Amusement Park. A review of their site indicated numerous original Storytown buildings were refurbished and reintegrated into the park, now serving as "Hamburger Huts" or souvenir and drink stands.
If you are younger, never experiencing the "Sunday Drive" or visited any of these places, you've may have wondered if any of these locations were still left. Well it turns out there are literally still  thousands of these quirky locations border to border and coast to coast. 

But young or old, is there any way to learn which parts of Roadside America still exist, where they are and how to get to them? We are happy to inform you, there is:

Click here to visit Roadside America
They All Came to Look For America
The site offers numerous different ways to sort through locations, by city and state or level of "weirdness". Details include entry fees, hours of operations directions and other nearby necessities, like hotels, So now you have no excuse to pick out a spot, put on your traveling shoes, fill up your Classic or your modern car and go explore. We'll keep an eye out for you along the way.