The Best Rest Stops in Texas
If you drive for a living, you often find yourself actively on the road more than you do resting or relaxing. Truck drivers know better than anyone else that late nights and long hauls can leave you exhausted. One of the most important things that a truck driver should do, especially for those long, late hauls, is stop and rest. Many major roads have rest stops for this reason. As the name suggests, rest stops offer a place to relax, eat, and sleep. Some of the best rest stops are found in Texas, the second largest state in the U.S., where it can take several hours to drive from one city to another. The Texas Department of Transportation maintains 75 Safety Rest Areas along 310,000 miles of highway, many of these rest areas offering hotel-grade amenities, historical exhibits, gorgeous views, and top-notch food. This guide highlights some of the best Texas rest stops.
In 2016, Buc-ee’s was named the “Best Rest Stop in America” by Bon Appetit magazine. It was considered a must-stop spot on any Texas road trip. Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982 and established with the intention of improving the overall rest stop experience. Nearly 40 years later, the rest stop chain has done just that, maintaining spotless bathrooms, up to 120 gas pumps, and friendly, professional staff. As for the food service, chefs from around the country have praised the vast menu. From smoked meats to sweet pastries, the food caters to a Texan palate while being manageable, to-go food. Buc-ee’s brings a lot more than just your typical rest stop experience.
Gray County SRA Westbound
This particular rest area is located sixty-five miles east of Amarillo. Not only does this service area double as a storm shelter, but it also houses historical information about the area. Inside the rest stop, you will find a metal windmill paired with historical panels detailing the history and topography of the locale. Outside, you can enjoy Texas-shaped grills and sit at the picnic arbors. During the day, you can take in a view of the High Plains and at night, admire the colorful display of red, blue, and white lights that illuminate the rest stop.
Cherokee County Northbound
This rest area is located along U.S. 69 about five miles north of Jacksonville. You will not be disappointed by this scenic stop. The structure’s new design of timber and red brick pays homage to the tomato-packing sheds that once lined a nearby railroad track. This site is located on a nine-mile ridge known as Love’s Lookout, which is a historical marker that has attracted travelers even before car travel was a thing. Below this ridge, is 30 to 35 miles of a tree covered valley, offering a beautiful view for all who pass through.
Hill County Northbound/Southbound
These twin rest stops (North & South) will give a rich sense of the land’s history. Located on either side of I-35, they are about 5 miles south of Hillsboro and hard to miss. These barn-like structures have restrooms that look like metal grain silos, which are a tribute to the local farming history. Other amenities include air-conditioned lobbies and restrooms, drinking water, handicap access, picnic tables, and playgrounds. This stop even boasts an interactive Drivin’ Texas Safety Game for some family fun.
Mystery Lights Viewing Area
This is probably the most unique rest area to visit on our list. This observation area is located on Texas Highway 90, only ten miles east of Marfa. This rest stop offers the typical amenities of picnic tables, restrooms, and historical plaques, but what makes this particular area unique are the unusual lights that have appeared in the West Texas sky since as early as the 1880’s. These lights are often referred to as the Marfa ghost lights. This phenomenon has attracted many onlookers and has even garnered a buzz of supernatural theories. Regardless, these seemingly otherworldly lights would be a great sight to catch.
Chambers County Eastbound/Westbound
These two service areas sit along I-10 at exits 814 (eastbound) and 815 (westbound). Just like the other rest stops, these two stops are designed to reflect the culture of the area. The structures are wooden clapboard buildings elevated on brick footings, influenced by the early “Low South” regional architecture. For those interested, you can read about the area’s nature while strolling the surrounding walkways. Interestingly enough, the beauty of this rest area has even been the backdrop of several weddings.
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