[dropcap]I[/dropcap] used to hate stopping at rest stops. A few raunchy ones years ago spoiled it for the rest. I’d bite my lip and wait for a big gas station or McDonald’s over stopping at a rest stop. I thought the bathrooms were dirty, shady people in the parking lot, leering truckers and more things are rest stops urging me to pass on.
But then I discovered something cool. I’m not sure if there was a change in state law or if visitor’s bureaus decided to step up the game, but something changed. On our road trips we discovered that our preconceptions were wrong. It wasn’t like it used to be. Now sure, every once in awhile there would be a rest stop that was in need of some custodial care. But for the most part, we were comfortable.
On a trip this year we discovered the nicest rest stop I’ve ever seen. The South Mountain Welcome Center off I-70 in Maryland is the one. The nicest one I’ve ever seen.
I always like to go in and browse the flyers and brochures. Not only are they great at discovering new places to see on our travels, but they provide reading materials for the ride. I love looking them over and circling things while my husband drives and then talking about my findings. This is how we discovered the drive in theater near our house.
If you aren’t stopping at rest stops while on your travels, stop it. Now! Things are so much different than they were 10-15-20 years ago. Believe me. If you skip them over, you’ll miss gems like South Mountain Welcome Center.
And why is this welcome center a gem?
Well, let me tell you…
The visitor’s bureau is located inside and staffed. While I browsed the rows and rows of brochures, a gentleman was available for questions and suggestions. He even suggested a few things to see on our future trip to Gettysburg. Customer service at a rest stop? That’s fantastic!
A lot of rest stops also have grills available. For the hardcore road tripper, this could really work to your advantage. I’ve often thought of packing foods to cook on our trips to save time and money, and this would be the way to do it. Just pull in, let the kids play and fire up the little grill. Then eat together and wash up before heading back onto the road. Seems genius to me!