It’d be nice to drive across the country without having to stop for food, gas, rest, or anything else. But that’s not even remotely possible. Considering you need all the above several times over to make those long drives, we’ve gathered a list of the eight best rest stops in America you should check out.
1. Iowa 80 Truck Stop – Walcott, Iowa
As you’re rolling along Interstate 80 near the town of Walcott, Iowa, you’ll come across Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop. If you’re on a cross-country road trip and find yourself needing to take a break in America’s Heartland, this is the place to do it. This place has it all: a movie theatre, laundromat, several fast food joints, and a museum about trucking.
2. Jubitz Truck Stop and Travel Center – Portland, Oregon
Don’t be fooled by “truck stop” being in the name, because this place is accommodating to all sorts of vehicles. When it opened in 1952, it was nothing more than a refueling station off the highway, but it has grown extensively since then into a luxury truck stop. There’re places to eat like the Cascade Grill and Ponderosa Lounge, plus you can find the Jubitz Cinema movie theatre and an on-site hotel, the Portlander Inn. Additionally, it’s only nine miles from downtown Portland, and is a great last stop before exploring the “Pearl City.”
3. South of the Border – Hamer, South Carolina
If there is one place to stop during a journey through South Carolina, it must be South of the Border in the town of Hamer. This legendary roadside attraction has been around since 1950 and is a perfect place to take a load off during a long drive. Fill up at one of the many gas pumps before settling in for an enjoyable meal at the Sombrero Restaurant. If you’re too tired to continue driving, stay a night at the South of the Border Motor Inn and play some mini golf.
4. Pops 66 Soda Ranch – Arcadia, Oklahoma
Imagine driving along Route 66 through the hot, desolate plains of central Oklahoma and you’d like nothing more than a cold soda. Good thing you’re going to pass right by Pop’s 66 Soda Ranch—you can’t miss the giant neon sign that’s shaped like a soda bottle. Pull over and enjoy a soda selection like you’ve never seen before. There’re over 700 different types of soda and seltzer here and a restaurant in case you get hungry.
5. Mars Cheese Castle – Kenosha, Wisconsin
Interstate 94 travelers have been stopping at the Mars Cheese Castle since the place first opened its doors back in 1947. Since you’ll soon be driving along the same highway, you must stop here, too. The deli serves everything from burgers and sandwiches to bratwursts, with cheese of course. There’s also a taproom on-site, a souvenir shop where spending 100+ dollars is easy to do, and a fabulous cheese shop.
6. Wall Drug Store – Wall, South Dakota
If you happen to be taking a road trip to or through Badlands National Park, be sure to check out the town of Wall, South Dakota, and check out Wall Drug Store. This legendary spot isn’t your traditional drug store, but rather a legitimate shopping mall containing restaurants, gift shops, and yes, a drug store. They also serve free ice water, handmake their own donuts, and have over 2 million visitors a year. After you’ve picked up all sorts of souvenirs, head to the Prairie Homestead and see how people lived during the frontier days. It’s an original sod house from 1909 that is now an interactive museum.
7. Space Aliens Bar and Grill – Fargo, North Dakota
Everyone raves about the barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee, but wait until you get a beef brisket platter from Space Aliens Bar and Grill. This place makes a good argument for the best BBQ in the galaxy. Located just off Interstate 94 in Fargo, North Dakota, you won’t be able to pull over fast enough for this place. The restaurant contains a 30-foot high domed ceiling and more than a few life-size statues of aliens. If BBQ platters aren’t your thing, consider trying one of their gourmet pizzas or chicken dinners.
8. Pea Soup Andersen’s – Buellton, California
There are plenty of great food establishments on either side of Highway 101 in California, but our personal favorite is Pea Soup Andersen’s in Buellton, California. As you can tell by their name, they are famous for their homemade pea soup and serve over 2 million cups of it a year. Get it in a bread bowl with toppings of diced ham and shredded cheddar cheese and be prepared to enjoy the best bowl of soup of your life. And since you’re on a road trip, head to the Mendenhall Museum that’s loaded with antique gas pumps and road signage.
You will get tired on a road trip. That’s just a fact. So, next time you’re cruising through the American countryside, be sure to take note of where you are. You may be close to one of the best rest stops in America.