Western Traveling Mom
If you have been on a road trip with kids, you have had that moment, the one where your little one says he has to go to the bathroom. Immediately, you look around only to remember that you passed a rest stop a few miles back so there won’t be another coming up soon enough. You get off at the next exit and frantically look for the gas station most likely to have a clean restroom. Conversely, you look for the closest fast food restaurant knowing it is likely to have somewhat cleaner bathrooms, thanks to periodic inspections from the health department. Then you end up buying some bad-for-everyone fast food.
Here’s a better idea:
When you map your road trips, look for stops along the way that can double as restroom breaks — factory tours, fun stores, unique restaurants, or something else. Chances are they will be a few minutes off the Interstate, but they are always worth the drive.
Here are some of our favorites from around the nation:
Yankee Candle Company Flagship Store near Colonial Williamsburg. We just stopped to use the restroom but ended up buying some of the best tasting caramel corn we have ever had. We also hand-dipped our own candles to take home.
Boyds Bear Country outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. You will never see so many Boyd’s Bears in one place. Make your own Boyd Bear, look at the displays, or pick up a sweet treat.
Mayfield Dairy in Braselton, Georgia. You can tour the dairy or just wander the store and pick up some Mayfield ice cream at an excellent price.
Priester’s Pecans, off of I-65 in Fort Deposit, Alabama. These were some of the cleanest bathrooms we have seen anywhere. Sample the pecans, try some divinity, or pick up some Alabama or Auburn gear.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park is located in Tallahassee, Fla., near I-10. Whenever possible, we travel with food and look for a state park to stop for a picnic lunch. Maclay Gardens is one of the prettiest spots. The gardens are beautiful year round and you can spend a few minutes to a few hours here.
The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. There isn’t much along the interstate that runs between Sioux Falls on the eastern border of the state and Rapid City, the entrance to the Black Hills, Badlands and Mount Rushmore on the western edge. So plan a stop to see this community center decorated each year in a design made of corn. Bathrooms are clean and entrance is free.
The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, Wyo. Spend time here wandering through the Dinosaur Center and get a snack. If you have time, head out to the dig sites.