11 Quirky, Enlightening Cross-Country Road Trip Stops

If you make all these stops on your next soul-searching road trip, you're guaranteed to come out changed forever.

Want to find yourself and change your life?

America's expansive network of highways and freeways is the perfect place to discover your purpose in the world.

If you're planning on driving from sea to shining sea, you'll be following in the footsteps of countless soul-searching vagabonds, from Jack Kerouac to Chris McCandless—and you'll probably stumble upon some strange sights and profound revelations in the process.

Of course, truly finding yourself might require losing yourself, which might first require confronting your demons and past. But if you stop at all these destinations, you might just wind up changed... forever.

1. Ouija Board Headstone: Baltimore, Maryland


Every journey of self-transformation has to start by confronting the ghosts of your past and the ghosts of those who traveled this way before you. You can literally do all this by visiting the grave of the man who created the Ouija board, Elijah Brown, in the Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore. This man patented the Ouija board in 1981, but it took until 2007 for someone to find his grave and paint it with his signature design.

You can ask the ghost of Elijah any questions you've been wanting to know, and then use his board to call your ancestors and figure out whether or not you were really an accident. This is the perfect way to begin your transformative road trip across the United States. You might even want to invite the ghosts you meet while in the graveyard—a 16th century milkmaid with dreams of being a burlesque dancer and a sensitive yet hilarious gay cave artist from the year 1 will be the perfect passengers to talk to once you start losing your mind somewhere around Arkansas.

2. Hell, Michigan


After your trip, wouldn't it be amazing to say that you've been to hell and back—literally? Don't miss the chance to pass through Hell, Michigan. Hell is decked out with year-round Halloween decorations, studded with themed restaurants and bars, and mostly made up of idyllic rural landscapes that resemble classic portraits of Heaven more than anything truly demonic. Maybe the devil we were taught to believe in was actually trying to save us from a tyrannical God, and God kicked the devil out because he was scared of losing his throne to someone who actually had humanity's best intentions in mind?

3. Georgia Guidestones: Elbert County, Georgia


As you take your road trip across America, which of course is really a soul-searching tour of the cornfields and kitschy roadside attractions that constitute the majority of your thoughts—even though you want to think you're more of a moonlit desert and mystical forest type of thinker—make sure to stop at the Georgia Guidestones. Comprised of 19 large white stones put together by a Georgia man in 1979, this peculiar sculpture is emblazoned with 10 apocalyptic messages written in eight different languages. These messages may just offer the wisdom you'll need to survive the end of the world slash climate change slash slash the end of who you used to be before your soul-searching trip.

4. The Gates of Guinee: New Orleans, Louisiana

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Now, every journey towards enlightenment and transformation requires what's known as a "dark night of the soul." An American road trip offers many opportunities for this dark night, wherein you can confront your shadow-self and the demons of the underworld in one sweep. One perfect place to do this is the Gates of Guinee in Louisiana, a series of seven gates which are supposedly portals to the voodoo underworld. In the French Quarter of New Orleans, each portal will expose you to a negative aspect of yourself, which you'll have to defeat through a series of mental and physical tests that will leave you breathless and shaking but well-prepared to be totally reborn.

5. Nuclear Waste Adventure Trail: Weldon Spring, Missouri


While confronting your own demons, you'll also want to confront the demons of the land you're from. And if you're from or living in America, those demons will include a legacy of colonization, corruption, and—yes—nuclear warfare. Wade through the wreckage of this nation's pride and joy by climbing a mountain that contains the relics of the largest explosive factory in America, which shut down in 1960. After the factory closed, the EPA put all the contaminated rubble inside a spaceship-like tourist attraction. You can birdwatch, stargaze, or observe the ruins of civilization from atop the odd structure while contemplating your own complicity in systemic oppression and violence. Resolve to protest by attending one monthly meeting when you head back to Brooklyn, and move on.

6. The World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things: Lucas, Kansas


As you approach Kansas, your perception of the world might start to shift and things might start looking topsy-turvy. This is part of the process; you're letting go of who you used to be, of everything you were told to be when you grew up in your cloistered suburban northeastern town, and you're learning to reevaluate your entire worldview. The World's Largest Collection of Smallest Versions of Largest Things will certainly resonate with your distorted but slowly transforming perception of the time-space continuum.

Erika Nelson, the owner of this mobile home, takes photos of all the "World's Largest" objects in the world and rebuilds tiny replicas of them, and you can see all of them in this museum. It's actually also the perfect metaphor for how every atom in our bodies is a perfect microcosm of the universe.

7. Spoon and Cherry: Minneapolis, Minnesota


Now that you've faced your demons and walked through the fire, it's time for some sweet rewards. Rediscover life's truest pleasures by visiting the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which features a gigantic spoon topped with a tremendous cherry on top. Sometimes the sweetest things in life are the littlest things, which are even sweeter when they're gigantic versions of the littlest things, so treasure every moment and use this visit to learn to live in the present, so that every moment expands instead of slipping away. Observe every detail—let the sun patterns dappling your dashboard, the dead insects piled underneath the windshield wipers, the coffee stains on your passenger seat, and the strange stain on your motel pillowcase that sort of resembles Jesus Christ grow heavy with symbolism. Magnificent, right?

Garden of One Thousand Buddhas: Arlee, Montana


Now that you've confronted the shadows of your past and your nation, and revamped your understanding of space and time, you can begin the process of seeking out enlightenment and changing your life and subsequently the world around you. Montana's Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is located in the Flatland Indian Reservation in Lake County, Montana, and is meant to be a pilgrimage location in the Western hemisphere, so it's perfect for your spiritual quest. The statues are arranged in a circular formation to represent the "wheel of dharma," which in turn represents the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth that forms of the core of Buddhist cosmology. To escape the wheel, you'll need to actually become a Buddha, which takes many lifetimes and a great deal of meditation—but seeking out a shrine and downloading Headspace is a good place to start.

8. The Thing: Rotterdam, Arizona


As you drive through the desolate Arizona desert on Interstate 10, you might start seeing signs for something referred to only as "The Thing." What is The Thing? You'll have to take Exit 312 to find out… but unless you do, you'll be stuck with the endless mystery of life buzzing in your ear like a mosquito, filling your mind with unanswerable questions and unfathomable truths.

If you reach The Thing, you will discover that some questions will never be answered, by religion or by philosophy. Learning to make peace with this is a vital step on your journey. As you make your way to the mystery of the Thing, to that dark warehouse where the Thing that is Nothing resides, you'll learn to let go of your desire to know it all. Let go of the idea that you know anything or that you require physical evidence of meaning, your own or the universe's, and embrace the beauty of life's mystery.

9. The Fremont Troll: Seattle, Washington


The eighteen-foot Fremont Troll has been lurking under a bridge in Seattle since 1990, and it's always been shrouded in strange folklore and legends, making it a roadside destination popular with anyone seeking to tempt fate.

According to one legend, it was sculpted by the gods to bring protection to the area. According to another, once a villain pushed a Volkswagon off the bridge—and the troll caught it, and has held the Volkswagen in a parallel dimension beneath the bridge ever since. The Troll will most likely have some blessings and words of wisdom for you, so be sure to stop by before you reach your final destination. It may even teach you to laugh at yourself a bit, like the best of Trolls, and that may be the most important lesson of all.

10. Salvation Mountain: Imperial County, California


Once you've passed through the haunted pine barrens of New Jersey—and through winding, probably nonexistent liminal space of the midwest—and once you've at last fought through the searing depths of Death Valley—you'll find yourself rising out of the dust, nearing the sea, approaching Salvation. Mountain, that is. This California roadside attraction is proof that you've fought through Hell and are well on your way to redemption.

Created by a local named Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain is a pastel-colored adobe pastiche located about 80 miles south of Palm Springs. It's the perfect place to mark the end of your journey and the beginning of your new life. Kneel before Christ and realize you're worthy of this new life and of salvation, and know that you will carry these lessons and this spark of hope and deep love with you for the rest of your days, until you, too, can become a ghost who visits young road trippers who stop to ask for advice at Elijah Brown's grave.

After your visit, you can make your way to the ocean, drive your rental car into the waves, and let the salt strip you clean of all the layers of dirt you and your vehicle have accumulated. Wave goodbye to all the ghostly friends you've made and let them rejoin the ocean waves and pass over to heaven (which was Hell all along). Then you can move back to New York, self-publish a memoir about how your trip changed you, and get on with your life.

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There are several things about wine that can confuse the average person. If you haven't spent the last few years of your life learning everything there is to know about wine, you can be forgiven for picking up a box of the good stuff every now and then. However, if you want to know a little bit more about how to choose a good bottle, we can help you out. We've created a beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Know What Type of Wine To Choose

First things first, you're going to need to decide the type of wine that you're looking for in order to narrow your search. Are you looking for a red, white, sparkling, or rosé? The choices may seem overwhelming, but try to focus on what foods you'll be pairing the wine with. Reds go great with heavier meals like red meat, while whites tend to lend themselves towards lighter dishes like fish and cheeses. If you'll be drinking the wine on its own, consider what you've tried in the past and what type you tend to gravitate toward.

Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!