Wandering the World’s Largest

The Idea

I first discovered my love for roadside oddities when I was 22. It was early spring and a group of my friends had decided to embark upon the 23-hour drive from Des Moines to San Francisco. We were less than two hours into our trek when I forced a detour in the suburb of Boys Town, Nebraska, to see the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps. Weighing in at 600 pounds, that quirky mess of stamps instantly stole my heart. It was my first world’s largest thing, and it certainly wouldn’t be my last.

The summer before I turned 25 I was itching for a new challenge. In the past year, I’d driven everywhere from Connecticut to Texas and written about all sorts of unique attractions on my blog, Olio in Iowa. But I wanted something more. So I concocted a plan to spend the next five years having one of my biggest (I suppose you could say, my world’s largest) adventure yet.

The Goal

Visit at least one World’s Largest thing in every U.S. state

Naturally, a simple visit isn’t enough to satisfy my journalistic tendencies. So along the way I’ll also be sharing the stories of how these world’s largest things came to be, the people who take care of them and the other adventurers who make these scenic stops their passion. When it comes to the specifics of what that’ll look like, you can expect a combination of photo essays, long-form written pieces, hand-drawn illustrations and maybe even a podcast.

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Latest Blog Posts

Meet Albert the World’s Largest Bull

The “world’s largest” thing that began my obsession may have called neighboring Nebraska home. But it seemed fitting to kick off  my Wandering the World’s Largest adventure in Iowa with Albert the World’s Largest Bull.

Plan Your Big Adventure to the World’s Largest Things in North Dakota

It’s no secret that I love “world’s largest” things. So it should come as no surprise that North Dakota quickly stole my heart with all of its quirky attractions.

Meet Otto the World’s Largest Otter

One of my favorite things about Minnesota is its large number of, well, large attractions. Lucky for me, one of Iowa’s neighboring states is home to dozens of “world’s largest” things just waiting to be…

Snap a Photo with the World’s Largest Booming Prairie Chicken

I’m always up for visiting a new “world’s largest” thing. Even if it happens to be a prairie chicken. A booming prairie chicken, to be precise. Located in Rothsay, Minnesota, the World’s Largest Booming Prairie Chicken…

Meet Elwood the World’s Largest Concrete Garden Gnome

It’s been a long time coming, but last weekend I ventured up to Ames to explore Reiman Gardens. But more than anything, I was excited to meet Elwood the World’s Largest Concrete Garden Gnome.

A Sticky Saga: A History of Sac City’s World’s Largest Popcorn Ball

When I compiled my list of Iowa’s “world’s largest” things, I strongly considered highlighting Sac City’s World’s Largest Ball of Popcorn. But then I learned that the Iowa version lost its gigantic title to the Indiana State Fair in 2013, and while the reigning “world’s largest” ball no longer exists, I decided to go in a different direction.

A Visit to Metropolis, Illinois

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…the southern town of Metropolis, Illinois! Home to none other than Superman himself, the small town of Metropolis (population 6,400) has fully dedicated itself to anything and everything relating to the Man of Steel.

World’s Largest Ball of Stamps

It’s been awhile since I first visited the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps in Boys Town, Nebraska, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Tucked away in the Village of Boys Town Visitors Center, you’ll find a roadside attraction with more than Nebraska’s stamp of approval…

World’s Largest Swedish Coffee Pot & Cup

You’ve probably never heard for Virginia Christine. But you might recognize her as Mrs. Olson from Folgers’ retro TV commercials. Christine was a Stanton, Iowa native and in 1971, the southwest Iowa town’s water tower was transformed into a Swedish coffee pot—complete with handle, spout and top knob—in honor of Stanton’s famous daughter…

World’s Largest Wooden Nickel

Recently a friend of mine mentioned that she was surprised I’d never seen one of Iowa’s most well-known world’s largest seen: the wooden nickel. I’ve been to Iowa City enough times for work or to visit friends but I never tracked down the 18-foot diameter wooden nickel, located outside of Iowa City along NE Dubuque Street, just north of the Iowa River…

World’s Largest Loon

This past weekend I spent some time up north (near Dent, Minnesota) with some friends. Naturally once I heard that we were within miles of the Vergas—home of the World’s Largest Loon—we planned a quick stop on our way back to Minneapolis…