One of the best parts of any road trip is when things don’t go as expected. Although many travelers don’t look at it that way at the time, when you look back on an adventure, you often find the memories you’ve created to be the best part. When it comes to traveling, you stop at truck stops here or there to fill up, get a quick snack, or run to the restroom and stretch your legs.
Most of us have memorable experiences – good or bad – at truck stops throughout our life. Let’s look at how those memorable experiences stack up to visiting one of these ten crazy truck stops in the US.
3346 US 301, Hamer, South Carolina
South of the Border isn’t easy to miss traveling down I-95. You’ll see Pedro the Bandido, its mascot, and its massive welcome sign a mile away. This sprawling truck stop sits on 350 acres of land with a small amusement park, mini-golf, an indoor reptile exhibit, a motel, and several restaurants. Looking for a memorable meal? Eat at the sombrero-shaped restaurant Peddler Steakhouse. Large statues of dinosaurs to dolphins and other animals litter the property.
76740 Garner Lane, Grosse Tete, Louisiana
There’s very few places in the US, let alone the world, where you can park your car and come face-to-face with a tiger without visiting a zoo or wildlife preserve. The Tiger Truck Stop in Louisiana is one of those few places. Order some red beans and rice along with alligator sauce at its restaurant, play video poker 24/7, or spend some time with its resident tiger. The Tiger Truck Stop is battling the government and protests who think they shouldn't keep these animals at the truck stop. Seven cubs have been born here since it opened.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: Well, if having a tiger at a truck stop isn’t crazy enough for you, maybe you’re crazy?
755 West Iowa 90 Road, Walcott, Iowa
The Iowa 80 Truck Stop bills itself as the “world’s largest truck stop” and the I-80 is one of the nation’s most frequented highways for travelers going to and fro. It includes a movie theater, a dentist’s office, a chiropractor, and a trucker’s showroom called Truckers Jamboree. This museum and lounge dedicated to truckers is something you won’t see anywhere else on the road. You’ll find your standard truck stop food fare, including its own Iowa 80 Café. Try the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich for a filling and delicious Midwest meal.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: This truck stop is huge! It might as well be a mini-mall on the side of the road.
820 Happy Trails Lane, Albert Lea, Minnesota
Trail’s Travel Center is a Minnesota staple for residents, truck drivers, and anyone passing by. Friendly to RVers, especially large 5th wheel RVs and toterhomes, you can find some of the nicest people and best truck stop food in the country. With some fast food kiosks and the Skol Tavern, you’ll find plenty to fill your belly. If stopping at the Skol Tavern for a proper meal, order the barbecue ribs or chicken – you won’t regret it! But you might need a nap before hitting the road again. If you’re visiting Trail’s Travel Center on a Sunday, you can sit in on church service held on site.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: Church service at a truck stop? Who would’ve thought?
2842 SE Frontage Road, Johnstown, Colorado
Johnson’s Corner is a small truck stop opened in 1952. Rain, shine, or snow, Johnson’s Corner has never once closed its doors to travelers. Johnson's Corner is a small stop off I-25 north in Colorado and sees some of the best and worst weather in the front range during the year. In 2004, Food Network called this stop the “best truck stop in the country.” There’s also a chapel here, a trucker’s store and lounge, a convenience store, and a sit-down restaurant. This place gets crazy busy, especially around the holidays, so there may be a wait to sit at a table if you need a longer break from the road.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: If you want to eat crazy good at Johnson’s Corner, get a cinnamon roll or 12. Eat one there, eat them on the road, or bring them home but don’t leave without getting one of the best cinnamon rolls you’ll have in your life here.
2886 Route 302, Wells River, Vermont
P&H Truck Stop doesn’t look like much from the side of the road in Vermont. This truck stop is perfect for picking up snacks, fueling up, or making a quick trip to freshen up when leaf peeping across the northeast. P&H is known for its northeastern famous cinnamon raisin bread. Make sure to pick up some for the road and if you’re sitting down for a meal, order some maple cream pie (made with the real deal Vermont maple syrup.) For over 30 years, this stop has been serving Vermont and those traveling up and down the east coast. With private showers, truck scales, and free Wi-Fi, this is the place to stop in New England.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: This truck stop is known as “Puke and Heave” by locals, but don’t let the nickname stop you from stopping here.
665 Linmar Lane, Johnson Creek, Wisconsin
The Pine Cone in Wisconsin opened in 1973 and not only features a fully-loaded truck stop but also some of the best food you’ll find on travels anywhere. The best thing about The Pine Cone is they cook everything fresh like momma makes at home. You’ll find everything from ten types of pies every day. You'll find pastries and bakery items, too. Everything from grilled steaks to fish fries to BBQ is freshly made and served piping hot. You'll also find good old-fashioned Wisconsin cheese in the travel center shop, along with mail drop off and pickup, gifts, tobacco, free Wi-Fi, and laundry services.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: How many trucks stops are known for their fresh food cooked daily? Not many, that’s for sure!
530 Coldbrook Road, Bangor, Maine
Dysart’s Truck Stop and Restaurant is a big stop for those traveling from such far-away places as the University of Maine. In all seriousness, Dysart’s is a local staple and a favorites top for those traveling up and down the northeast US and Canada. Whether you stop for some world-famous lobster rolls or bumbleberry pie, you’ll eat well and learn more about Maine’s culture before hitting the road for your next stop.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: This truck stop is in Stephen King’s hometown. If you’re a fan of his horror novels, stopping here is a way to understand the inspiration some of King's stories come from.
1950 East Greg Street, Spark, Nevada
Who doesn’t love relaxing, eating well, and gambling? Well, at Alamo Casino and Travel Center – you can do it all! Like other truck stops, you’ll find the well-known road restaurant Iron Skillet here coupled with 260+ slot machines to test your luck. You’ll find many Alamo Travel Centers throughout Nevada. Tired of your journey? Some locations, including the one in Spark, offer motels for you to get a good night’s sleep before continuing on your way.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: Ever wanted to play table games on the road? You’ll find them here! From Texas Hold'em to craps and blackjack, there’s a table game for every gambler.
21 Romines Drive, Morris, Illinois
This started as a restaurant called the Chuck Wagon in 1967 but evolved over the years as a truck stop restaurant – The R-Place in Illinois. The restaurant evolved with a puppet show, antique toy displays, and catering to big events, such as corporate parties, weddings, and more. With homemade family recipes served fresh daily, the in-house bakery is a local staple, and the pastries and baked goods make for great snacks on the go.
Craziest Thing About This Truck Stop: The Premium Ethyl food challenge forces you to eat a two-pound hamburger, a pound bun, and a pound of fixings loaded on top. You have one hour to eat it all and can’t leave the table during the challenge. You get a hat, a free meal, and your picture on the wall in glory if you complete it. Try to hit the road again after that.
No matter the destination, stopping along the way is one of the best ways to eat new food, meet new people, and great memorable experience. Truck stops may seem like a dime a dozen, but you never know what you might find by stopping at one. They might surprise you. Don't discount a truck stop because of what you've heard. Take the chance, get out of your car, and enjoy everything these crazy pit stops have to offer on your next road trip whether they're on this list or you pass by one on your own.