With road trips on everybody’s minds, we’re all searching for those quirky roadside stops full of a little weird and a lot of fun. These strange spots are the perfect excuse to get off the beaten path and stretch out your road-weary legs (and bonus, they’re totally free!). Just in case post-pandemic life wasn’t odd enough for you already, we’re rounding up the top roadside oddities in the DMV.
The Big Chair
Once an ad for a big furniture store, this chair sculpture located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Ave. and V. St. SE is a fun, oversized photo op for your family. The chair, which stands 19 ½ feet high and is made of aluminum. It weighs in at over two tons. Built in 1959 by a Virginia-based furniture maker, the ginormous chair stood to draw in customers. It drew notoriety when a local artist lived on the chair for 42 days without coming down. Now, it still stands to draw locals for a fun roadside stop.
Martin Luther King Ave. and V St. SE
Modeled after a similar milestone in Rome, the Zero Milestone symbolizes the United States' road system's effectiveness. It's an inscribed granite block, set inside a big brass compass on the sidewalk, about four feet high. It serves as the exact spot from which all roads in the country would be measured. That idea was an epic fail, but it still stands as a symbol of the cross-country road system that connects us all.
Ellipse Rd NW
Q Street Barbies
Do you have a Barbie-lover in your house? Then, you need to stop at this quirky doll hangout. With every new holiday, those in-the-know flock to get a look at this ever-changing display of dolls in front of a local building. The setup makes it look like the figures are growing up out of the dirt. Neighbors have strong opinions on the display, but it is still a fun stop for your next local road trip.
1454 ½ Q St NW
NASA Goddard Rocket Garden
Most of the campus that houses this cool garden is closed to the public, but the "Rocket Garden" is open to the public. It is right behind the visitor center. Visit this green space filled with decommissioned rockets and educational plaques. Among the rockets on display is an Apollo capsule used for training astronauts before missions and a huge Thor Delta-B rocket weighing in at just under 115,000 pounds.
9432 Greenbelt Rd.
Municipal Fish Market
Don't miss the oldest continuously operating fish market in the country! You'll probably smell and hear this stop before you see it. In operation since 1805, the majority of the seafood sellers here have been hawking the bounty of the sea for decades, possibly generations. Your little foodie will love the fantastic selection at this market. Chinese octopus and Chilean seas bass are ready to be wrapped and taken home for a family dinner. Want a break from cooking dinner? That's OK! This is a full-service market where vendors will cook the seafood to order.
1100 Maine Ave. SW
District Warf, Under the I-395 overpass
Worth the Drive
Kiptopeke's Concrete Fleet
Cape Charles is a beautiful family-friendly beach town perfect for any getaway with your crew. While you're there, check out the fleet of ghost ships in the Chesapeake Bay. The eerie-looking vessels consist of 9 of the 24 concrete ships made during World War II. The sunken ships serve as a breakwater to protect the pier and beach and a home for tons of local sea life. If you want an up-close look at this super cool site, rent a kayak, and you'll be all set to paddle out for a better view.
Kiptopeke State Park
Cape Charles, VA
The Ruins of Presidents Park
Check the website for special events at this location. It is on private property, and you'll need a ticket for this one. What once was a ten-acre sculpture park and museum is now a vast field of 18-to-20-foot-high busts of Presidents of the United States, many in disrepair but so cool to see. In 2017, National Geographic featured a video of the current owner discussing this historic exhibit's future. He'd like to restore the statues to their former glory.
8212 Croaker Rd