With warm weather coming, a wave of travelers will soon be hitting the road. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat or take a bathroom break, they should consider a truck stop, says Steven Lopez of Trucker Path, a navigation and review app with 1 million monthly users.
“There’s a lot of overlap between what truckers want and regular consumers want. They want something that’s clean, that has a large selection of food. And they want a location where it’s easy to get in and out.” He shares with USA TODAY some chain and independent stops winning top ratings from truckers.
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Noble’s Restaurant and Truck Stop
Located on Interstate 75 about an hour south of Cincinnati, this family-owned truck stop feels like a highway version of the “Cheers” bar, with wood paneling and taxidermy on the wall. “It’s a throwback. They know your name,” Lopez says. “It’s got a mom and pop feeling, a family atmosphere.” Customers also consistently praise the friendly wait staff.
More information: facebook.com/noblesrestaurantandtruckstop/
Sapp Bros Travel Center
Women customers love this stop, located along Interstate 49 in western Missouri. The female-friendly center has a heated, bidet-style toilet seats in the restroom. It also has a veterans memorial and serves the public by training employees to be on the lookout for indicators of human trafficking.
More information: sappbros.net
Mr. Gas Travel Center
An innovative design makes this a popular Interstate 84 stop for truckers and travelers alike. Customers can order street tacos, rotisserie chicken and other treats from food trucks located inside the store. And the soda fountain provides choices of mix-in syrup flavors. “They’ve got a unique layout for their travel center. It gives it a cool vibe,” Lopez says.
More information: mrgas.com
Russell’s Truck & Travel Center
Glenrio, New Mexico
Located on historic Route 66 near Interstate 40 just inside the New Mexico-Texas border, this stop lures travelers with a free vintage car museum. Its old-fashioned diner serves classics like chicken-fried steak, burrito plates and all-you-can-eat fried catfish platters. “This is one of my favorites. It’s a must-see for anyone hauling through New Mexico,” Lopez says.
More information: russellsttc.com
Tennessean Truck Stop
With an ice cream parlor and homestyle buffet, it’s best to come hungry to this Interstate 65 stop just north of the Alabama state line. Its Pop’s Barbecue restaurant slow-cooks and hand-pulls its meats, and even sells its own brand of sauce. “It’s about the food,” Lopez says. It’s also nearly 50 years old, and the state’s largest independent truck stop.
More information: tennesseantruckstop.com
Gee Cee’s Truck Store
With a 24-hour take-out deli, travelers can get a great bite to eat at any hour at this Interstate 5 stop between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. “What people love about Gee Cee’s is their huge parking lot, and their deli and family-style restaurant,” Lopez says.
More information: geeceestruckstop.com
Mach 1 #12
Forget your image of dirty truck stops, this Interstate 57 location in Southern Illinois ranks among the nation’s cleanest in Trucker Path surveys. The family-run Mach 1 chain is active on social media. “They really listen to their consumers, and want to know what you are thinking about, and how it can be better,” Lopez says. Also top rated in Illinois: Love’s Travel Stop #763 in Hampshire, on Interstate 90, northwest of Chicago.
More information: mach1stores.com/locations/store-12
While not technically a truck stop, travelers of all kinds will drive out of their way for Buc-ee’s, Lopez says. The Texas-based chain with a loveable beaver mascot boasts the world’s largest car wash, which clocks in at 255 feet long, at the Katy location off Interstate 10. Less than 200 miles away in New Braunfels off Interstate 35, another Buc-ee’s claims to be the world’s largest convenience store at 67,000 square feet. “My kids love that place,” Lopez says.
More information: buc-ees.com
Big Apple Travel Center
While truckers give this Interstate 44 stop a thumbs up for its huge location and easy highway access, others will enjoy its Indian restaurant, dog park and electric vehicle charging stations. Lopez says he’s impressed by its First Fifty program, which sets aside the first $50 in sales of daily special items for local charities. “That’s something really cool.”
More information: bigappletravelcenters.com/store-joplin
Flying J Travel Center #1171
With more than 750 locations in 44 states, Pilot Flying J is the largest chain of truck stops in North America. This Interstate 15 location near the Arizona border gets top reviews for its wealth of fast-food options, including a Wendy’s Mr. Taco, and Chester Fried Chicken.
More information: pilotflyingj.com