Readers Choice

10Best Readers' ChoiceChosen by readers of USA TODAY and 10Best

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    #10 - Peachoid - Gaffney, S.C.

    Even those who've never made it to Gaffney, S.C. might recognize the giant fruit-shaped water tower, known affectionately as Peachoid, from the first season of "House of Cards," when Kevin Spacey's character heads back to his hometown in South Carolina after a texting-while-driving teen dies in a car accident after getting distracted by the peach. To get an idea for just how big Peachoid is, the leaf at the top measures 60 feet long and 16 feet wide.

    Photo courtesy of Bruce Tuten

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    #9 - Ave Maria Grotto - Cullman, Ala.

    Ave Maria Grotto, known as "Jerusalem in Miniature," sits on a four-acre park in Cullman, Ala. and contains 125 miniatures of some of the world's most famous shrines and monuments - the work of one Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Bavarian Benedictine monk with a hobby of carving miniatures. When a freight car derailed near the abbey where Brother Joseph served in 1933, crushing the marble contained inside and rendering it useless, it was donated to the abbey, and Brother Joseph had his materials for the grotto.

    Photo courtesy of joevare

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    #8 - Enchanted Highway - Regent, N.D.

    North Dakota's Enchanted Highway is standing proof that if you build it, they will come. In 1989, resident of Regent, N.D. Gary Greff worried that modernization would wipe out his small town if he didn't do something to draw attention to it, so he got to work (with absolutely no artistic experience) on the "World's Largest Tin Family," a sculpture made from scrap metal. Today, Highway 21 is lined with seven of Greff's mammoth creations.

    Photo courtesy of North Dakota Tourism/Jim Gallop

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    #7 - Beer Can House - Houston

    “Some people say this is sculpture but I didn't go to no expensive school to get these crazy notions.” These are the words of retired upholsterer John Milkovisch, the man behind the Beer Can House in Houston. When Milkovisch tired of mowing his lawn sometime around 1968, he began inlaying rock, marble and metal pieces into the ground. Next came the aluminum siding for his home, made from crushed beer cans. Today, this grand recycling project contains some 50,000 beer cans reformed into fences, wind chimes, mobiles and curtains.

    Photo courtesy of Clem

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    #6 - Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas

    Drivers on Historic Route 66 as it passes through the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo will spot a series of 10 garishly painted, vintage Cadillacs buried nose-down in the dirt on the side of the road. This is Cadillac Ranch, one of the most famous roadside attractions on the Mother Road, where it's become somewhat of a ritual to pull over with a can of spray paint and "contribute" to the work of public art.

    Photo courtesy of waxhawian

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    #5 - Fremont Troll - Seattle

    The most famous resident of Seattle's funky Fremont neighborhood dwells beneath the Auroroa Bridge. The Fremont Troll was the result of a national competition hosted by the Fremont Arts Council to do something creative with the space beneath the bridge. A team calling themselves the Jersey Devils were the clear winners, and the giant "Billy Goats Gruff"-inspired troll, made from steel, concrete and wire, was born.

    Photo courtesy of Roshan Vyas

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    #4 - Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox - Bemidji, Minn.

    Everyone's heard the legend of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, but only those who visit the town of Bemidji, Minn. enjoy a photo op with the giant duo. Both statues were built in fall of 1937, and Earl Bucklen, the mayor at the time, was used as a model for Paul. Babe's giant tin horns measure 14 feet from tip to tip, while Paul stands tall at 18 feet.

    Photo courtesy of State Historic Preservation Office

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    #3 - Carhenge - Alliance, Neb.

    On the western edge of the Sandhills of Nebraska near the town of Alliance, a series of 38 vintage American cars, painted grey to mimic the monoliths of Stonehenge, form an Americana-style replica of the famous British attraction. The monument was constructed by sculptor Jim Reinders and about 35 of his family members, as a tribute to his late father. In true Stonehenge style, Carhenge was dedicated on the Summer Solstice of 1987.

    Jim Reinders
    Jim Reinders who

    Photo courtesy of Nebraska Tourism

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    #2 - Longaberger Home Office - Newark, Ohio

    Employees at the Longaberger Home Office in Newark, Ohio (35 miles east of Columbus) are lucky enough to get to work inside a giant replica of the company's Medium Market Basket. The structure took two years and three months to build and was completed in 1997. The two giant handles atop the building, weighing 150 tons a piece, are heated to prevent ice from forming on them during the winters.

    Photo courtesy of ellenm1

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    #1 - Big Tex - Dallas

    The 1952 State Fair of Texas saw the debut of Big Tex, a larger-than-life cowboy who has welcomed guests to the fair ever since. The original Big Tex burned down in an electrical fire in 2012, but he made a Texas-sized comeback the very next year. One of the world's most famous Texans requires a mighty big shirt - it takes a team of Dickies sewing experts up to two weeks to craft the giant garment, complete with 3-inch buttons. His boots? Size 96 Lucchese replicas.

    Photo courtesy of DCVB

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Big Tex #1 with Voters for Best Quirky Landmark

Longabarger basket building, Carhenge round out top 3

Our readers love America's quirky landmarks, and none moreso than Dallas's famous Big Tex, which landed at #1 after four weeks of passion-fueled voting.  This larger-than-life cowboy has welcomed guests to the State Fair of Texas since 1952, and has been lovingly replaced only once.  His boots?  Size 96.  #photoOpp!

Your #2 finisher would also take a prize for unique architecture.  The Longaberger home office building in Newark, Ohio, is shaped like a giant wooden picnic basket, replicating the company's primary product.  

Alliance, Nebraska's strangely memorable Carhenge ranked #3 with our readers.  This quirky stonehenge replica is built of 38 vintage cars.  

Rounding out the top five are Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, in Bemidji, Minnesota;  and Seattle's Fremont Troll.   The full list of winners is as follows:  

  1. Big Tex - Dallas
  2. Longaberger Home Office - Newark, Ohio
  3. Carhenge - Alliance, Neb.
  4. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox - Bemidji, Minn.
  5. Fremont Troll - Seattle
  6. Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
  7. Beer Can House - Houston, Texas
  8. Enchanted Highway - Regent, N.D.
  9. Ave Maria Grotto - Cullman, Ala.
  10. Peachoid - Gaffney, S.C.

Three of the winners are from one state - Texas - and South Carolina's Peachoid is familiar to viewers of the original Netflix series 'House of Cards.'

The other ten nominees, also selected by our expert panel of professional photographers, included:

Beer Can House - Houston
Cabazon Dinosaurs - Cabazon, Calif.
Dog Bark Park Inn - Cottonwood, Idaho
Fremont Troll - Seattle
Galleta Meadows Estate - Borrego Springs, Calif.
Goldwell Open Air Museum - Rhyolite, Nev.

Hood Milk Bottle - Boston
Prada Marfa - Marfa, Texas
South of the Border - Dillon, S.C.
World's Biggest Bat - Louisville

Congratulations to all the winners . . . and a big thank you to voters for your loyalty.    

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The Experts

Joanne DiBona

Joanne held the position of Director of Communications for many years at the San Diego Tourism Authority.  During her long tenure with the bureau, she wore many hats, but her favorite was as creative writer and scenic photographer.  Her faithful camera always in hand, Joanne never tires of unearthing new and exciting adventures in travel destinations around the world. Her travel photography has appeared in hundreds of prestigious publications worldwide. She is a member of the esteemed Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer and photographer whose photos, represented by Alamy and Getty Images, have appeared in publications around the world. He is the author of Odysseus’ Last Stand, which received the Silver Medal for Travel Book of the Year in 2006 from the Society of American Travel Writers. 

Lydia Schrandt

Senior Photo Editor for 10Best, Lydia has traveled to more than 30 countries around the world, camera in hand. Her photography has appeared in Time Out Beijing, National Geographic Traveler and in several online publications. In 2012, she was the runner-up in the Frommer's Cover Photo Contest. She's currently living and photographing along the beaches of Southern Brazil, but a year-long RV trip through the U.S. to capture some of these very images of "Americana" sits high on her bucket list.

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