With the fall weather slowly creeping in, it’s fair to say that a large majority of Canadians are desperately trying to cling on to the last vestiges of that summer spirit. That’s why this upcoming Labour Day weekend is among the most coveted dates for ‘last chance’ road trips before the brisk awakening of autumn. With many of our hotel locations situated along major travel routes we decided to compile a list of the best road side attractions to visit in Canada, because, after all, who doesn’t love a drive through corn stand?
When most visitors think of sights to see in BC, they usually seek them out on water (whale watching is popular) or on the mountains (the province is famed for its skiing). Yet, there are some interesting roadside pit stops that are enticing too. Take for instance the Giant Dump Truck in Sparwood.
The appropriately named, Terex 33-19 “Titan” tandem-axle off-road dump truck is among the biggest in the world. While it used to be a working vehicle, it now stands as an iconic reminder of the town’s rich mining history. Approximately 7 metres tall and nearly 20 metres long this glorified version of your kid’s toy weighs 260 tons – something the tots are sure to love!
Everyone needs a pit stop for food during their on-road travels, but sometimes burgers and fries just don’t suffice. That’s why there’s ‘The Sparkes Corn Barn’ drive though. Sprinkled across Chilliwack highway areas, you can simply pull up, order a bundle of the town’s freshest, and be on your merry way. Renowned for having some of the sweetest corn around, the bright yellow and green barns are easy to spot with their cute and colourful displays. A ‘golden’ opportunity, you’ll want to stop by at least once for some homegrown goodness.
The Ogopogo Sculpture, Kelowna, BC
Much like the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, Kelowna’s mythical (or real, depending on your sources) water creature is the stuff great legends are made of. Old folklore tells of a beastly lake monster that ate men, yet, if you look at the monument created in Kelowna, you might get a different impression. A cute and cuddly looking thing, this road side statue looks more like the flying dragon from ‘The Never Ending Story’ rather than a scaly, scary creature – which is good because the lake is a great place for a summer swim and hasn’t seen any man-eating activity for centuries.
The Enchanted Forest, Revelstoke BC (Roger’s Pass)
Perhaps one of the most curious sights you’ll see while travelling along the TransCanada Highway in BC, The Enchanted Forest is a real life …well, enchanted forest. Similar to what you’d envision for an Alice in Wonderland amusement park, this fantasy play ground was created way back in 1950s. Starting off as a lifelong passion for Doris Needham, she began creating her enchanted statues by hand using cement molds. Then, she and her husband found the ideal location near Revelstoke, BC and began turning their wide lot of land into a mythically charmed acreage. Clearing over 40 acres of land by hand with shovels, picks and saws, they were able to construct everything from candy cane houses to giant mushrooms for passersby to enjoy. Then, in 1960, they opened their pride and joy to the public, attracting a large number of highway travellers to their bright, colourful and curious forest. Now a local legend, this is the stuff dreams are made of – literally.
Why did the beaver cross the road? To become a 3000-pound road side attraction of course. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to a town called ‘Beaverlodge’ this giant icon is truly Canadian in every sense of the word. Home of the Beaverloge Blades, a hockey team in the North West Junior Hockey Leauge (NWJHL), we’re pretty sure their proud of their wood-chipping mascot.
Giant Dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta
There are 2 cool things about Drumheller’s famous road side attraction. One, the statue is a life-sized replica. Two, a long, long time ago, there was the real thing likely walking around the area. We’re talking about the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The king of all dinosaurs, this big guy is famed for being the largest T-Rex road side replica in the world. Standing at 26-plus metres (86 feet) tall, 145,000-pounds (65,770-kg) in weight this is the closest you can get to the ancient giant. By close, we mean really close, as in you can climb up inside its body for a mini-museum tour all the way to the top where its mouth offers a stunning view of the surrounding area.
Most folk passing through Edmonton get a big kick out of this roadside attraction. Perhaps the most carefully crafted footwear you’ll ever see, this statue was actually refurbished by a real shoe company, the Stallion Boot and Jean Company. An ode to the city’s prairie roots, you can go wrong with a good ol’ pair of cowboy boots.
World’s Biggest Wind Gauge, Lethbridge Alberta
With those strong Chinook winds, it makes sense that Lethbridge, Alberta would have a giant Wind Gauge in their city. Trouble is it doesn’t work! However, engineers can breathe a sigh of relief as the design is intentional to prevent unruly tourists from harming themselves by climbing or playing with it. Which is pretty smart if you think of it, because standing at 18 feet tall, you wouldn’t want to get hit in the head with its oversized ball bearing.
Any Trekkie will love this one. There is a real place called Vulcan, and it lives in Alberta. Very aware of their kinship to the famed sci-fi series, the town decided to erect a giant statue of the starship Enterprise for every fan to enjoy. Near the statue is a visitor centre where onlookers can learn much about the Vulcan culture (the alien culture that is, not the actual culture of the town) in addition to many other Star Trek related facts. Maybe the town should adopt a new slogan – ‘live long and prosper’ perhaps?
Standing at over 30 feet tall, this mammoth statue was built by volunteer fire fighters as a tribute to their team. Seven months in the making, it is an impressive sight, and likely a huge beacon for tourists and dogs alike.
Did you know that Altona, Manitoba is the ‘Sunflower Capital’ of Canada? If your answer was no, then you might want to take a drive out there where you can find a 76-foot tall easel with a giant hand-painted replica of Van Gogh’s classic ‘Sunflowers’. We’re glad they went creative on this one, because a giant bottle of sunflower oil wouldn’t have been as attractive.
Yup, this one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a 3-storey tall orange. Yet, it has more functionality than most of the other road side attractions. It serves orange juice and has been doing so since 1942.
If you’re looking to play a good trick on your friends, you can head over to Tilley Endurables in Toronto where they have a giant Easter Islands head sculpture. Standing at 15 feet tall, the head looks like the real thing and with the help of some crafty camera work, could fool people into thinking that you took a wild vacation somewhere far, far away.
So, if you’re on the road this long weekend, and you’ve got a bit of time to spare, you might want to check out some of these quirky and fun pit stops. After all, they always make good photos opportunities and that long drive just a bit more exciting!
Of course, Sandman Hotels are ready to provide you with a good night’s sleep should you need a place to stay, so check out our locations along the way.