The blue and brown signs along the highway recommend the usual chain restaurants while others remind us of State and National Parks and there are the occasional signs for museums and other attractions.
Whether you pre-plan your route, complete with an itinerary of things to do, or just wing it, it may be fun to allow for flexibility and spontaneity.
Upon entering new states as you drive and arriving in towns and cities where you may be camping or even boondocking, a quick respite at the Visitor Center or Chamber of Commerce can be a godsend. It’s their business to promote local attractions, restaurants and unique and fun places to visit while visiting passing through or staying town. If you have one hour, one day or one week it is surprising how you can find plenty of activities, dining, cultural and historical attractions to occupy your time. They may even know where the dump stations are and places to fill your propane tanks. Your best adventure could be a hidden treasure off the main highway, away from the larger cities. From breathtaking natural scenery to agricultural bounty to vibrant performing arts, you may want spend more time in the smaller towns.
Yes, you could probably find most of this on the internet, depending on your cell or internet service, however, to get a first-hand account or referral, or ask specific questions, stopping by a visitor center has many benefits. If you have too many options and a limited amount of time, or resources, getting local inside scoop of what to do, it helps to prioritize which restaurants to visit and local attractions to visit.
We’ve found while on the road internet and cell service can be spotty so we like to have a paper road map as backup, which you can pick up for free at visitor centers. Other perks might include free coffee or popcorn while you browse and information about current events such as farmers markets, new stores, restaurants and other events depending upon your tastes and interests.
Other variables include the weather and the time of year. As retired or full-time (or even Part-time) RV’ers know, sometimes planning can pay off with smaller crowds, discounted rates and other perks, like drive-times. We have found while visiting National Parks during summertime and holidays can be brutal with more people on vacation, longer lines and crowded campgrounds.
Take a slight detour, make a new friend and stop in the Visitor Center to learn some insightful details about the buildings and lights you’re passing on your journey. Follow the trails from Lewis & Clark, to new urban Breweries and Wine Trails and talk to the locals, ask them what they would recommend. You might be pleasantly surprised at where you find yourself.