Roadside attractions are those cultural tourist oddities that make people want to pull over and take a picture. For a lot of tourists and even locals, taking pictures and posting on their social media channels is a popular travel activity.
These attractions and be things like a giant fire hydrant or a collection of preserved animals. And there’s an infinite number of words that can be used to describe them: weird, odd, sensational, perplexing, and even beautiful.
If you’re a local or a visitor taking a Texas road trip, be sure to check out these cultural oddities.
The Cartoon Saloon, Too
Howdy partner! How about a drink?
Despite the photogenic nature of this attraction and the saloon name, you can’t actually order a beer here. This saloon was constructed for photo ops along the side of a remote country road near Comfort, TX.
Despite the condition of the saloon, it actually isn’t old. The weathered look was carefully created when the place was built in 2018.
It’s incredibly popular with people exploring the Texas Hill Country and a lot of folks bring their own booze and make it a picnic spot. Location: 508 FM Highway 473, Comfort, TX.
Stonehenge II and Easter Island Heads
The stone monuments of Stonehenge have captured imaginations for centuries…and replicas around the world. One of those replicas sits in a public park just off Route 39 on the banks of the Guadalupe River in the town of Ingram.
Constructed by artist Al Shepperd and his friend Doug Hill in the early 1990s, the stones of this monument are artificial. They are approximately 90% as wide and 60% as tall as the original in England. After visiting Easter Island, Shepperd decided to expand the project to include a 13-foot-tall replica of the stone heads found there.
Constructed on Shepperd family farm in Hunt, Texas, it was moved to this site after Shepperd’s death. Location: Hill Country Arts Foundation, 120 Point Theatre Road, Ingram, TX.
Lone Star Cowboy Boots
The tiny village of Sisterdale (not far from Boerne) isn’t much more than a wide spot in the road, a few houses, and a BBQ joint. But in the yard of one of the only houses in town you’ll find these red, white and blue patriotic cowboy boots.
The boots are about 4 feet tall and can be easily seen from the road. Location: 1149 Sisterdale Rd., Sisterdale, TX (alternate GPS address: 1149 Farm To Market Rd 473, Boerne, TX).
When it comes to Central Texas roadside attractions, none are more famous than the little town of Luckenbach. While this was a real town (population 3), it became famous when Waylon Jennings penned his famous song.
The Luckenbach post office, which operates as a souvenir and gift shop as well as a bar, is one of the most photographed buildings in Texas. Come for the photos, enjoy the music, and leave as friends.
If you are interested in visiting, read more about the town of Luckenbach.
The town is located just off TX Route 1376 southeast of Fredericksburg. Location: 412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Luckenbach, TX.
Ferdinand the Bull
Texas is full of lots of creative and unusual sculptures, including Ferdinand the Bull. It was purchased in 2012 from Colorado sculptor Sean Guerrero, also known as Chrome Sean. Built from old chrome automobile bumpers, Ferdinand is over 16 feet long and about 48 hands high. It took Guerrero two years to build the bull.
Since 2014, you’ll find Ferdinand living in the bull pen off the Hye-Albert Road at Garrison Brothers Distillery (one of the great Texas distilleries) in Hye. Location: 1827 Hye-Albert Rd., Hye, TX.
Armadillo Farm Museum
The town of Comfort was the location for the Apelt Armadillo Company from 1894 to 1971. The company manufactured craft items out of the nine-banded armadillo shells including lamps, purses, baskets and other items.
When the Apelt Company folded, the citizens of the town wanted to keep the memory alive. The result was the Armadillo Farm Museum. This is a combination of a museum and gift shop selling homemade goods, general store items, crafts, and the signature item: odd armadillo items.
The museum makes a curious stop in the Texas Hill Country. Location: 636 High St., Comfort, TX.
Hygieostatic Bat Roost
This wooden tower in the Texas Hill Country is over 100 years old. It was built in 1918 in the early days of the Spanish Flu outbreak but was designed to fight malaria. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, temperate Texas experienced a large number of malaria outbreaks. And malaria is transmitted by mosquitos.
And what kills mosquitos? Bats. While many communities in America viewed bats as a menace, many people recognized their important ecological role in keeping the mosquito population under control since an individual bat can eat thousands of the little bugs in a single night.
The tower is known as the Hygieostatic Bat Roost. The pyramid-like tower was designed by Charles A.R. Campbell as one of 16 throughout the U.S., but is the only one still standing. At over 30 feet tall and houses thousands of bats.
The Hygieostatic Bat Roost is now located on private property, but it can be seen from the road. Location: 109 RM473, Comfort, TX. GPS: 29.9697, -98.9066.
Seashell Graves of Comfort Cemetery
The small town of Comfort is home to one of the great mysteries of Texas. In the Comfort Cemetery, many of the graves are decorated with scallop seashells covering the tombstone mound. And nobody knows why they are here.
There are many different types of graves adorned with seashells: children and adults, named and unnamed graves, but all the graves are from the mid-1800s until the first quarter of the 20th century. Folks in town like to say that the tradition was brought over form Germany, but there’s not a tradition over there. In Europe, the seashell is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago route.
It’s more likely that the graves have to do with slavery. The town of Comfort and the German-American immigrants who settled here were strongly abolitionist. The town is also home to a mass grave of 68 farmers who wanted to join the Union Army in the Civil War. Adorning graves with seashells is very common in communities that have enslaved Africans (including Gullah communities).
There are many cemeteries in the South with similar seashell graves, but none are as famous as the ones here in Comfort. Location: Intersection of 3rd St and Cemetery St., Comfort, TX. GPS: 29.9738, -98.9132.
World’s Largest Virgin Mary Mosaic
Just west of downtown San Antonio and right off the I-35/I-10, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center is an important arts institution for the community. But it is better known for the massive four-story artwork on the side of the building.
The building is adorned with a massive mosaic that includes a replica of a votive candle of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The top of the candle has an eternal flame and members of the community leave their own votive prayer candles along the base of the mosaic sculpture.
Prayer candles are an important part of religious life for Mexican and Latino communities. The candles take on different significance and lighting the candles are an important part of honoring the faith and the community.
The masterpiece was designed by local artist Jesse Trevino and constructed in 2004. Location: 1301 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, TX.