Considered the Main Street of America and over 2,000 miles long, Route 66 connects Chicago to Los Angeles and is dotted with curious roadside kitsch meant to lure travelers. And Albuquerque, which is home to the longest urban stretch of Route 66, has its fair share of head-scratching landmarks. Here, we list five of the most intriguing roadside oddities.
An unpopular speed limit law inspired this musical reward for any vehicle that adheres to the 45mph limit. If you drive east on the old stretch of Route 66 near Tijeras, New Mexico – just outside Albuquerque – and stick to the exact speed limit, you will hear “America the Beautiful” being played from a special rumble strip buried in the asphalt.
Btw. Miles 4 and 5, Rte. 66, Albuquerque, NM
The Cottonwood Madonna
The 300-year-old San Felipe de Neri is Albuquerque’s oldest Catholic church, located in Old Town. In 1970, a parishioner carved the image of the Virgen de Guadeloupe into a cottonwood tree by the church. Because the image seems to change over the years, some have speculated that the religious carving is haunted.
2005 N. Plaza St. N.W., Albuquerque, NM; sanfelipedeneri.org
Giant Rattlesnake Sculpture
It’s not a mirage – there actually is a ginormous 400-foot long sculpture of a diamondback rattlesnake where the Rio Bravo and University Boulevards meet. If you become especially charmed by the snake, consider a visit to the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque’s Old Town, where there are more than 30 types of rattlesnakes on display.
4500 University Blvd. S.E., Albuquerque, NM
The Spaceship House
Completed in 1984 by the New Mexican architect Bart Prince, this strange structure is Prince’s residence and professional studio. Located in the Nob Hill district of Albuquerque, the building has been dubbed by locals as the Spaceship House because of its futuristic shape and design. It also looks like a rotund centipede floating in the sky, which has given rise to its other moniker: the Bug House.
3501 Monte Vista Blvd. N.E., Albuquerque, NM
Walter White’s Tombstone
After "Breaking Bad" protagonist Walter White died on the hit TV series, a headstone in his honor was placed at Sunset Memorial Park. This was considered disrespectful to the actual residents of the cemetery, so the headstone was later moved to the Village Shops of Los Ranchos strip mall.
6855 Fourth St. N.W., Albuquerque, NM