Amazing Rest Stops
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12 Beautiful and Unusual Rest Stops Across America

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Amazing Rest Stops
Graiki/Getty Images

Better Than the Rest Stops

Road trips have been part of the American experience since Henry Ford made cars affordable for the masses — and strategically scheduled stops along the way are part of what makes road trips worth taking. Almost every rest stop has a bathroom and snacks, gas pumps, and a parking lot, but some offer much more. Here's a look at America's very best, most interesting, most historic, and most beautiful rest stops.

Related: Road Trippers Go Out of Their Way for These 32 Convenience Stores

Iowa 80 Truckstop, Walcott, Iowa
Source: TripAdvisor

Iowa 80 Truckstop | Walcott, Iowa

On the eastern border of Iowa, adjacent to the Mississippi River and the town of Walcott, lies the biggest truck stop in the entire world. Iowa 80 Truckstop has been home away from home for American travelers since 1964. Known as "Trucker's Disneyland," the site boasts a full menu of amenities including a movie theater, on-site chiropractor, museum, and library. The stop is known among those who make their living on the road for its annual Iowa 80 Truckers Jamboree with live country music and carnival games.

Trails Travel Center, Albert Lea, Minnesota
TA Truck Service/yelp.com

Trails Travel Center | Albert Lea, Minnesota

A Viking-themed restaurant, a movie theater, and a Trucker Ministries church chapel are just part of the reason that Trails Travel Center seems to be full 24 hours a day. The amenities are too many to name, but you'll enjoy free Wi-Fi, hot showers, gourmet coffee, on-site laundry, and one of the largest collections of whiskey in the state of Minnesota.

South of the Border, Hamer, South Carolina
RunAway B./yelp.com

South of the Border | Hamer, South Carolina

Billing itself as "America's favorite highway oasis and getaway," South of the Border is more of a roadside attraction than it is a place to rest and refuel. Sombrero Tower is a top-notch observation point, plus there's a pool, restaurants, and rides for the kids at Pedroland, which was named for Pedro, the tequila-loving character who is easily one of the most famous rest stop mascots in America. South of the Border has been drawing weary and curious East Coast travelers since 1950 — it's located at the exact halfway point between New York and Florida.

Mars Cheese Castle, Kenosha, Wisconsin
April W./yelp.com

Mars Cheese Castle | Kenosha, Wisconsin

South of the Border has a long legacy, but Mars Cheese Castle goes back even farther. The literal castle — although it's not made of cheese — has been a beacon for drowsy motorists on Highway 94 since 1947. The specialty meats, cheeses, baked goods, and popcorn are such hot tickets that its booming online business caters to a loyal fan base all over the world.

Tamarack, Beckley, West Virginia
Miriam W./yelp.com

Tamarack | Beckley, West Virginia

Half a million visitors pass through Tamarack every year, and the Appalachian oasis is worth a visit as a destination even if you're not on the road. Sure, you can fuel up and cool your engine there, but it's no ordinary rest stop. Original, hand-made, artisan crafts and gifts are all part of the experience, as is a high-end art gallery. There's a theater, hands-on workshops, a bakery, and a made-to-order restaurant whose fare is sourced from the wild and rugged local region.

Bear Lake Overlook, Bear Lake State Park, Utah
Source: Salt Lake Express

Bear Lake Overlook | Bear Lake State Park, Utah

Bear Lake Overlook is widely considered to be one of the best rest stops in America purely for the views alone. Perched high in the Rocky Mountains near Utah's border with Idaho, the overlook beckons you to pull over. There's ample parking for buses, RVs, and cars, and you can peer out into the turquoise expanse of Bear Lake, which gets its colors from the limestone particles suspended in its watery depths. Beyond that — and that's a big beyond, considering the lake is 20 miles long — the soaring mountains offer what might be the greatest views in the West.

Rio Grande Gorge Rest Area, Taos, New Mexico
Source: TripAdvisor

Rio Grande Gorge Rest Area | Taos, New Mexico

The rugged beauty of the American Southwest is put on display in all its greatness at Rio Grande Gorge Rest Area. You'll take in stunning views of one of America's most famous rivers, but the real attraction is what's above. The waters of the Rio Grande spent millennia carving out the gorge, and you can walk the sprawling bridge that spans the gap. Be warned, however, that it's not for the faint of heart — anyone who's afraid of heights should stay on solid ground.

Tioga Welcome Center, Tioga, Pennsylvania
Source: TripAdvisor

Tioga Welcome Center | Tioga, Pennsylvania

Tioga Welcome Center is designed for travelers who need nothing more than to decompress. The grounds are beautifully manicured, and the vantage point offers picture-perfect views of the mountains and rivers that dominate the landscape on Pennsylvania's border with New York. Perhaps the best perk of all is that you'll take it all in from the stress-busting comfort of a rocking chair.

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch, San Bernardino County, California
Source: TripAdvisor

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch | San Bernardino County, California

Although it's certainly not a traditional rest stop, Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch is one of the most famous roadside attractions on America's most famous highway: Route 66. A junkyard paradise of unusual curiosities that lures gawkers and tired travelers alike, the "ranch" has a namesake curator — whose long, white beard has become his trademark — who has been collecting his bottles and tchotchkes since he was a child.

Wolf Creek Overlook, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
visitpagosasprings/facebook.com

Wolf Creek Overlook | Pagosa Springs, Colorado

"Architectural Digest" gave a nod to Wolf Creek Overlook as one of the most beautiful rest stops in America. It's famous for its appearance in 1983's "National Lampoon's Vacation," but it continues to draw travelers from Route 160 more than 35 years later for its stunning panoramic views of the North American Continental Divide.

Buc-ee's, Texas
Jon H./yelp.com

Buc-ee's | Texas

The Buc-ee's chain has gained a cult following across the Lonestar State, and if you see the unmistakable beaver logo, stop on in and you'll find out why its loyalists flock there in droves. Buc-ee's is famous for its homemade fudge, beef jerky bar, and immaculately clean toilets (really). Everything, including the store itself, is Texas-sized, including the company's generous salaries and benefits package, which it advertises right in the store.

Pops 66, Arcadia, Oklahoma
Genie L./yelp.com

Pops 66 | Arcadia, Oklahoma

Route 66 is America's most famous highway, and as it winds through Oklahoma you'll come across a 66-foot-tall glowing neon soda bottle reaching toward the sky. That's when you'll know you've made it to Pops 66. Known for having the best shakes and sodas in the Midwest — the Pops signature soda collection boasts 700 varieties — Pops has a full menu, an ambiance that made it famous as a must-stop roadside attraction, and, of course, a soda ranch.