By Mindy Borden
If you’re looking for a fun, educational, and food-filled day trip with your kids that won’t leave them complaining of boredom, a visit to Casey is sure to super-size your family fun.
Be sure to take a camera or make sure that you have plenty of storage space on your phone because these stops are Instagram-worthy. Located about 75 miles southeast of Champaign-Urbana off I-70, Casey has become increasingly more notable due to native Jim Bolin, who decided that he wanted to do something to make the town stand out. Using mainly recycled materials and old telephone poles, Bolin has continued to construct items making Casey the home to 12 landmarks receiving Guinness World Record status.
These impressive pieces include the world’s largest wind chimes, golf tee, rocking chair, wooden shoes, pitchfork, mailbox, key, gavel (located in nearby Marshall), swizzle spoon, golf driver, barbershop pole, and teeter totter. The record for the world’s largest knitting needle and crochet hook was held from 2013-17.
When planning your trip to Casey, please note that many of the stores are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and some are also closed on Tuesdays. It is important to look at the hours of operation when you plan your trip as they can change seasonally. Our family frequently travels through Casey en route to southern Illinois and we meet family there during the summer in order to enjoy the sites and delicious food.
On a nice day, visitors can walk between many of the sites within Casey. Posted signs and directional arrows are visible throughout town in order to guide visitors between landmarks. If mobility is of concern for your party, golf cart rental is available to tour the sites. If you are hoping to see all of the world record sites, you will probably want to drive to a few of them. Nearby Marshall (home of the world’s largest gavel) is about a 20-minute drive south of Casey. A map is available for guests to navigate around town.
We often start our adventure near Casey’s Main Street, at the Traveling Mug. The adults in our group enjoy the many flavored coffee options and the kids enjoy their flavored lemonade — blended blueberry lemonades being a consistent favorite.
While you sip on your coffee, it’s hard to miss the world’s largest mailbox. Make sure to bring a piece of mail to send from the mailbox. The giant flag on the mailbox will rise when mail is inserted. You can climb up inside the mailbox and wave to the town that’s 32 feet, 6.5 inches below. Be sure to have someone take a picture of you and your family from the ground.
Across the street, children love to get inside the giant bird cage with fully operational swing for photo opportunities. Be sure to also check out the world’s largest barber pole nearby for a fun and unique picture. A new donut shop is coming soon near the barber pole on Main Street. Wildflour Bakery also features gourmet cupcakes, cookies, and other treats.
The world’s largest wooden shoes are directly behind the mailbox at the Casey Candy Depot (20 W. General Robey). Make sure to go during business hours to get an up-close-and-personal view of the wooden shoes. Visitors are still able to see the shoes from an external window if they happen to be in town outside of the store’s regular business hours, but kids always enjoy the pay-by-the-pound Jelly Belly jellybeans as well as candy sticks, salt water taffy, and more.
We enjoy eating lunch (or an afternoon snack) at Tetzel Prime, a fun and unique shop offering gourmet pretzels and dipping sauces. The pick up window looks like an old truck hood on the side of the building. When your order has been completed, listen for the horn to alert you to come to the window to pick up your treat. Patrons may also choose to go inside the shop to order and eat. We chose the pizza pretzel with pepperoni and jalapeño slices (yum) on our last visit, and the kids opted for plain pretzels and cheese. They did have a Hawaiian pretzel with ham and pineapple that looked pretty tasty for our next trip, though. No trip to Casey is complete for the kids without a trip to The Big Dipper for hand-dipped ice cream.
Farther down Main Street are the world’s largest windchimes (109 E. Main). The 56-foot structure is easy to spot when arriving in town. In the surrounding landscaped area, spectators are able to ring the windchimes and hear the sounds they make.
Directly across the street you will find the world’s largest rocking chair. It weighs more than 46,200 pounds and stands 56 feet, 6 inches tall. And it actually rocks! It took 10 people to rock the chair to qualify for the record because the items have to be functional to be considered for record-worthy status.
The world’s largest teeter totter is located near this area. The top of the teeter totter boasts a great view of the world’s largest rocking chair. You may choose to have lunch at the Whitling Whimsey. This is a fun cafe offering a nice selection of foods and desserts. It is located beside the world’s largest wind chimes.
The former world’s largest crochet hook and knitting needles are inside of locally owned The Farmer’s Wife Gift Shoppe (2 E. Main St.). The knitting needles weigh roughly 25 pounds each and the crochet hook weighs more than 9 pounds itself. To qualify for the world record in 2013, 10 rows were knitted with the oversized tools.
Many of the other spectator sites are spread across town and will require some driving. The world’s largest golf tee is at Casey Country Club (203 NE 13th St.). Standing more than 30 feet tall and weighing 6,659 pounds, it is an impressive sight in the middle of the golf course. Visitors are able to access fantastic views of the landmark.
From there, drive about a mile to the world’s largest pitchfork. The pitchfork, next to local favorite Richard’s Farm restaurant (607 NE 13th St.), is 60 feet long and weighs 1,940 pounds. It was created to accompany the theme of the restaurant.
Other “big things” that weren’t quite record-worthy but are equally impressive: a 13-foot wooden coin at the Casey State Bank (940 Illinois Route 49); a 32-foot, 6-inch pencil; and a 36-foot-long yardstick, a giant bookworm, a large spinning top, mousetrap, and more developing with each stop that we make. These should definitely be checked out on your visit.
If you find yourself hungry for more, The Greathouse of Pizza has fantastic pizza and its deep dish pie was recently recognized by Enjoy Illinois. Note: deep dish pies are available only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. One thing that we know for certain, you shouldn’t come back hungry. There are so many fun things to do and delicious, unique foods and experiences to be had in Casey.
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