Hello and welcome to Oh, the Places We’d Go, our new series where we’ll be taking a nostalgic look back at the places we’d visit in a time when nearly every American family used to vacation by road. Some are long gone, some are hanging on and some of them are still going strong. Most of them were just stops somewhere in between where we were coming from and where we were going to. All of them, however, take us back to times that are forever paved in the highways of our American memory.

Our first post in the series will be about some of the oldest attractions to ever line the American highways – dinosaur parks!

Dinosaur Parks were some of the first roadside attractions

Did you know that, although they’re thousands of years old, dinosaurs weren’t actually discovered until relatively recently when British fossil hunter William Buckland found some fossils in 1819 and eventually described them and named them in 1824. In fact, most of the largest herbivorous specimens on record were discovered in the 1970s or later. Moreover, an article in 2018 issue of National Geographic claims that today is the “Golden Age” for dinosaur discoveries with more and more species of dinosaurs being discovered than ever before!

But, heck, that’s really not news to us because we’ve been discovering dinosaurs since the ‘50’s ‘60’s and ‘70’s as they loomed over the highways we traveled on our family road trips. Here are a few you might remember from back then that haven’t gone extinct quite yet:

Dinosaur Land │White Post, VA

Dinosaur Land, Virginia’s premier dinosaur park was started about 50 years ago by Joseph Geraci. Geraci became so fascinated by some fiberglass dinosaurs he saw at a Florida mini-golf course, he figured that the weather was just as good for dinosaurs to live in Virginia, too. Originally,  he wanted to place them outside of his Virginia gift shop – the Rebel Corner – but then decided that dinosaurs would be bigger, both figuratively and literally, than his gift shop.

He built a large and toothy dinosaur mouth as the entrance to his gift shop, and borrowing Disneyland’s fonts, made a sign for the attraction he called “Dinosaur Land”.  A couple of the first dinosaurs are still hanging around: the purple Apatosaurus (and you thought that OTHER dinosaur was the only purple one?) and an orange-green Tyrannosaurus Rex that lurks beside the highway, tempting travelers to pull over for a quick bite.

Entrance to Dinosaur Land in Virginia.

Today there are 50 dinosaurs roaming standing around Dinosaur Land including the aforementioned Apatosauruses and Tyrannosaurus Rexes along with stegosauruses, Triceratopses, and other early reptilian relatives. Heck, even King Kong makes an appearance. Why? Why don’t YOU ask him?

Dinosaur World │Plant City, FL; Glen Rose, TX; and Cave City, KY

Yes,  there are three locations for Dinosaur World theme parks , but don’t worry if you think you might be missing out on a dinosaur or two because Dinosaur World Florida is exactly like Dinosaur World Kentucky which is exactly like Dinosaur World Texas. In fact, each park contains the same 150+ life-size dinosaur sculptures created by world-class dinosaur sculptor Christer Svensson. However, these dinosaurs don’t simply try to menace you with their dirty looks. Many of them actually move as a result of animatronics! At all three parks you’ll encounter a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Stegosaurus, a Pterodactyl, and a Triceratops. Of course, there are also the obligatory fossil digs and mining for gemstones, but there’s also talks with real paleontologists, plus a fossil museum featuring remains that can be found throughout Florida like trilobites and an the claws of an Allosaurus!

CEO Stephanie Stuckey believes that every traveler is a friend – even a triceratops!

In fact the only difference in the three parks might be the Dinosaur World gift shop in Kentucky which also features gemstones and minerals, which we’re assuming might be because it’s near Mammoth Cave (which we’re also assuming might be the cave where Marshall, Bill, and Holly lived with Chaka, but were not 100% sure. It may also be the cave where the Sleestaks lived in suspended animation. Again, we cannot be 100% sure, though. Ask the one of the paleontologists while you’re there).

Dinosaur Gardens  │ Ossineke, Michigan

Now THAT’S what a classic roadside attraction’s sign should look like!

“Wait a minute!” you might be saying out loud to us right now, “I thought dinosaurs were cold-blooded, so how are they living through the winters of Michigan in this dinosaur park without freezing to death?” We can only answer this question by asking a couple of questions of our own: “First, why are screaming? We can’t hear you anyway.” and second, “Why don’t you email one of the paleontologists at any one of the three Dinosaur Worlds and ask them?”

All we are sure of is that the 25-acre Dinosaur Gardens is a fun time that takes you on guided tours around a lush Michigan swamp where you’re driven around in a van by someone we think is probably named Fred or Velma or maybe even Shaggy.

Seriously though, you’ll drive past 26 exhibits, and get to explore the insides of a  brontosaurus and look inside a pteranodon nest which we bet you can’t leave without thinking about making a Fred Flintstone-sized omelet.  

Come on in and see what I had for breakfast!

Dinosaur Gardens is actually one of the oldest dinosaur parks with many of the dinosaurs on display being built between the 1930s and 1960s using a mysterious resin the park’s creator called “cement plastic”. You can also enjoy gemstone mining, mini golf, and a frozen yogurt bar while you’re there.

George S Eccles Dinosaur Park │Ogden, UT

Apparently, back in the day, dinosaurs used to hang out in the Beehive State a lot, and Ogden’s George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park is proof of that fact. The park features over 100 dinosaur replicas, animatronic figures, fossils, bones, and more.

Please don’t try to slide down the dinosaur. This isn’t Bedrock ya know!

Most of the replicas are dinosaurs that are native to Utah which, again, were a lot!  Kids will love the park’s playground as well as tons of hands-on and interactive exhibits inside the dinosaur museum which are especially engaging for them.

Cabazon Dinosaurs │Palm Springs, CA

Meet Dinny and Mr. Rex – the Cabazon Dinosaurs of Palm Springs, California

​Ever since sculptor and theme park artist Claude Bell (of Knott’s Berry farm fame) began construction of the Cabazon Dinosaurs in 1964 to attract customers to the Wheel Inn, these Palm Springs dinosaurs have earned their status as being one of the most iconic roadside attractions in the country. However, if we’re honest, it only features two enormous, dinosaurs made of steel and concrete: Dinny the Dinosaur, the 150-foot-long (46 m) Brontosaurus and Mr. Rex, the 65-foot-tall (20 m) Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Located just west of Palm Springs, California on I-10, the dinosaurs are visible from the freeway to travelers passing by and probably  best known for their appearance in the 1985 film Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Bell died in 1988 at the ripe-old age of 91 and his family sold the property in the mid-1990s. Since then, the Cabazon Dinosaurs have been the site of a roadside creationist museum and gift shop. Incidentally, the Wheel Inn, which opened in 1958 went extinct in 2013. Still a great roadside photo-op if you’re in the area.

 The Prehistoric Gardens│Port Orford, OR

Finally, we have the Prehistoric Gardens in Oregon. CPA/mill machinery supply shop owner E.V. Nelson brought his dream of opening Prehistoric Gardens to fruition when he chose the lush, prehistoric woodland feel of the present site in the 1950s. It didn’t come easy, however, as he spent several years researching and creating the replicas, and the result of which is a 20-minute walk into the forest that takes you past 23 huge dinosaurs including a 46-foot tall brachiosaurus and a pteranodon with a 27-foot wingspan.

How can anything so cute possibly want to eat you? Just look at those eyes! Awwww!

How do we know the names of all of these dinosaurs. Are we really that smart? Actually, no. The signs near each creature provide fun facts and interesting information on the prehistoric reptiles you’ll see, so you don’t have to be Ross Geller to know what you’re looking at. Besides that you’ll also learn about the unique temperate rainforest biome you happen to walking through at the same time.

Do you hear that sound? Is that the dinosaurs coming back to life? No, that’s your stomach growling, silly, so why don’t you pull over at one of the next Stuckey’s locations you see and grab their new 10oz pecan log roll to stave off your hunger for awhile? While you’re there, pick up a few pecan log rolls and other fine pecan candies and treats for the folks back home? And don’t forget your Stuckey’s souvenir t-shirt.

Have we discovered a prehistoric Stuckey’s? Hey Bedrock, Come on by! Try our pecan logs. Not candy. Just logs!

Whether you long for a time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth or for the time when you used to visit some of these dinosaur parks on the family road trips of your youth, one thing’s for sure – you can save yourself time by ordering Stuckey’s Pecan Logs and other Stuckey’s merchandise from our website. On the road or online – there’s always time for a Stuckey’s stop. Visit www.stuckeys.com for more info.