Road trips are awesome. Heading out on the highway, hitting some back roads, maybe even heading to one of the great driver's roads like the Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee/North Carolina. But eventually, you'll have to take a break.
You'll need gas, food, a restroom, or maybe a new charging cable after you realize your old one wasn't charging your phone. If you want to get all of that done at once, there's no better place than a truck stop. And there are no better truck stops than these.
Well, Iowa 80 isn't the largest truck stop in America. Nope. Iowa 80 is the largest truck stop in the world. Just off I-80 at exit 284 in Walcott, Iowa, the Iowa 80 truck stop is more like a mall crossed with an airport terminal. It has a movie theater, a pet wash, a library, a barbershop, a dentist's office, a workout room, and even a chiropractor.
There's a laundry, showers, and a kitchen that's open 24/7. Of course, you could also visit one of the fast-food joints at the truck stop if you'd prefer to have Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, or Chester's Chicken. Oh, and they even have a trucking museum.
Clearwater Travel Plaza
How many truck stops can you name that have catering? When the Food Network highlights your truck stop, that's pretty telling. Of course, it's still a truck stop, so when you head to Clearwater Travel Plaza off State Highway 24 in Clearwater, Minnesota, expect to see big rigs outside.
You'll find the standard massive truck stop amenities, such as showers and snacks for the road. You'll also find a world-class bakery, a bookstore, and a pub.
South of the Border
Let's head south, friends, to a South of the Border off 95 in Hamer, South Carolina. It's a truck stop that's more like a carnival with parking for a Kenworth. Seriously, Pedroland Park is a built-in amusement park that features an arcade, mini-golf, a carousel, bouncy houses, and a bunch more rides to keep you occupied while you get gas.
There's also Reptile Lagoon, working to ensure the conservation of crocodiles. Reptile Lagoon shows off 15 different types of crocodiles. Yes, real live crocodiles. You read that correctly.
So, you want a truck stop that's also a resort? Drive to Flagstaff, Arizona, and stop at Little America Travel Center! It's right next to a ponderosa pine forest, so you can fuel up and then go for a hike. As you would expect from a resort, they have excellent food in their grill and deli, as well as luxury accommodations. Do they have a gift shop? Of course. They also sell art. Like, actual fine art.
The next time you're planning a road trip, take some time to enjoy these truck stops. You may have to go a little out of your way, but they are definitely worth the effort. After all, shouldn't you enjoy all of the parts of your journey?
Truck stops aren't just for trucks. Sometimes they're like theme parks and worth making part of your road trip!