As you count the days until your road trip, you can almost hear the waves crashing at your family’s favorite beachside bungalow. But don’t let the dreamy destination distract you from the most important element of any great road trip.
We’re talking about pit stops, of course, and these are just a few of AAA’s favorite spots across the United States. So, take some time to stretch and refuel, while soaking up the local culture.
1950's themed diner; Photo by Spencer Davis/Unsplash.com
SAIL PAST THE GOLDEN ARCHES IN FAVOR OF LOCAL FLAVOR
Road trips are an adventure, so why settle for the standard drive-thru food? When tummies start rumbling, treat your crew to a memorable meal they won’t find anywhere else.
VERSAILLES RESTAURANT—MIAMI, FLORIDA
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better Cuban food anywhere outside of Miami, and Versailles Restaurant is proof of this. Their classic Cuban baguette is just one gem in a mouthwatering menu of beef empanadas, shrimp ceviche, chicken au jus, Key lime pie, and more.
LOUIS’ LUNCH—NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT
Pretense is the only thing missing at Louis’ Lunch, where the burgers and the decor have remained largely the same since 1895. Meanwhile, character abounds in their signature burger: a simple-yet-delicious beef patty served on white toast with cheese, onion, and tomato.
MATT’S BAR AND GRILL—MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
Standing proudly on the corner of E. 35th St. and S. Cedar Ave. since 1954, Matt’s Bar and Grill is hailed by The New York Times as a classic Upper Midwest neighborhood eatery. Order their signature “Jucy Lucy” burger and prepare to make fast friends with a slew of charming locals.
Iowa 80 museum and gift shop; Photo by Iowa 8 Group, Inc.
FUEL UP IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE AT THESE LEGENDARY TRUCK STOPS
With tasty, homemade meals, hot showers, and so much more, these unique pit stops can hardly be called gas stations. They’re more like road-warrior experiences.
DYSART’S RESTAURANT & TRUCK STOP—BANGOR, MAINE
The words “truck stop” don’t usually follow “award-winning Maine cuisine,” but that’s just what you’ll find at Dysart’s Restaurant & Truck Stop. Revive your road-weary soul with buttery haddock chowder, Maine blueberry pie, and a piping-hot cup of their signature coffee.
IOWA 80 TRUCK STOP—WALCOTT, IOWA
What was once a home away from home for thousands of professional truck drivers is now a major tourist destination in America’s heartland. Commonly known as “Trucker’s Disneyland,” Iowa 80 Truck Stop offers laundry and other amenities for drivers, as well as a funky museum and gift shop.
JOHNSON’S CORNER TRUCK STOP—JOHNSTOWN, COLORADO
Known for its giant cinnamon rolls and other homestyle creations, Johnson’s Corner Truck Stop has been a cozy haven for travelers since 1952. In addition to sparkly clean amenities for drivers, the facility features a multiuse banquet center, conference space, and nondenominational chapel.
Cowboy saloon; Photo by Helbrecht StudioBRAKE FOR ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS THAT ARE ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY
The World’s Largest Ball of Wax may be something to behold, but these off-beat wonders make for a far more interesting break from the road.
HAVRE BENEATH THE STREETS—HAVRE, MONTANA
If you’re game to take your road trip way off the beaten path, head to Havre Beneath the Streets. Above ground, it’s your typical big-sky town in Montana. But several feet below the surface you'll discover eerily preserved 20th-century streets—complete with a cowboy saloon, a Chinese laundry, and even a storied brothel.
WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE—SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
There’s no better pit stop for goosebump-seekers than the famously possessed Winchester Mystery House. Wear comfortable shoes and gather your bearings. The home’s nonsensical staircases, tilting hallways, and interior windows were all designed by the house's superstitious first owner, William Winchester, to confuse evil spirits.
DINOSAUR WORLD—CAVE CITY, KENTUCKY
Ever picnicked with a tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, and a raptor? Now you can, thanks to Dinosaur World, a sprawling sculpture park near Mammoth Cave. If the life-size dinosaurs aren’t enough to capture your kids’ imaginations, the park also features interactive exhibits and a themed playground.