The pretty backdrop of fall colors may entice you travel down unexplored roads. Ramble beyond the city and watch your kids flip out about Illinois’ kitschiest treasures, including the world’s largest catsup bottle and a remake of Pisa’s leaning tower. Flip through our photo album and discover the roadside oddities that have “family photo op” written all over them.

Kaskaskia Dragon – Vandalia, Illinois

Slow business in the winter of 1995 prompted hardware store employees at Kaskaskia Supply to build a fire-breathing toy that could keep them busy and be used as a float in a local Halloween parade. The Kaskaskia Dragon began to get attention in 2001 when it was anchored by the interstate. Motivated by the volume of requests for the owner to press the secret button that made the dragon belch fire and get glowing red eyes, it was outfitted with a coin-operated mechanism that allows visitors to work the dragon on their own. Coins can be purchased at Kaskaskia Supply or the liquor store across the street from the dragon.

Distance from Chicago: 240 miles southwest
2024 Progress West, Vandalia, Illinois (618-283-9700)

What is your kid’s favorite roadside landmark? Let us know in the Comments section below.

— Maria Barnes

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Photos: Via anneh632, dsearls, darastar, Ken Lund & HysterialMark on Flickr creative commons