Last updated: 09:31 PM ET, Tue May 12 2015

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  • Michelle Bucher | May 12, 2015 9:31 PM ET

    Why Visitor Centers Are A Great Place For Road Trippers

    Why Visitor Centers Are A Great Place For Road Trippers

    Image courtesy of Thinkstock

    I've never really thought much of using a visitor center while road tripping … until we went inside one and learned of all the helpful information they provide tourists.

    The first time we stopped at a visitor center was in Maine. We had just spent a week-and-a-half driving across Canada, and after crossing into the states, we chose to stop at the visitor center to use the bathroom. A lady in the visitor center was asking us about our road trip, where we were heading, and what we were planning to do while in town. She was able to give us some great information about the state, fun things to see while in town, and travel tips on what road to take, and where to stay away from. That was the moment we learned how valuable visitor centers were for us while road tripping.

    Here's a few things we've found visitor centers helpful for:

    Free Wi-Fi

    This is an important feature while road tripping. We don't often like to plan too much of our trip in advance in case something happens, and we have to change our plans. While in New York last summer, we stopped at a visitor center in the morning and were able to book tickets to the Statue of Liberty. The lady was even nice enough to print off our confirmation tickets. We also used the visitor center in California for information on the Alcatraz boat trip, and we’re able to book our boat trip in the visitor center as well.

    Clean Bathrooms

    When you’ve been on the road for several weeks at a time, you’ve probably stopped at many bathrooms along the way. I find visitor centers have the cleanest bathrooms we’ve come across.

    A Safe Place to Sleep

    We often pull over at visitor centers for a quick nap or a good night's sleep when not using hotels for our road trips. We find visitor centers to be a much safer location to sleep, rather than at random gas stations or parking lots.

    Tourist Information

    Visitor centers are a great source for tourist information. We plan out most of our road trips online before we leave, but sometimes we overlook information about towns that we’re passing through. It’s always fun to learn of random attractions worth seeing. While in Maine, the lady at the visitor center told us about this 1,700 lb, 18-year-old chocolate moose named Lenny. We made a short detour on our road trip to see Lenny, and he was a fun roadside attraction to see. This also gave us a great break from road tripping, as we were able to get out of the car and stretch our legs.


    Directions from gas station attendants are hit-or-miss sometimes. There are times we’ve had really helpful people give us great information, and others that are too annoyed to help us.

    Visitor centers are great for directions, but also getting information from locals. We’ve stopped in many visitor centers asking for directions on the best route to other states. While traveling through the Midwest one summer, we learned of several tornado advisories. We stopped at a visitor center for a weather update, and asked one of the ladies working there what was the best route around the tornado area. She was able to give us some great information through a different state that would lead us back to our road trip route.

    Do you ever stop in visitor centers while road tripping? If not, maybe you should one time. You might find some helpful information there.


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Michelle Bucher Road Rules From the Road Trip Blogger

Michelle Bucher Michelle Bucher is an avid road tripper, travel writer and social media marketer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Michelle has spent the past six years on various road trip adventures around North America. She's road tripped through 48 states, 10 provinces and several other countries. Michelle runs a fun travel blog,, showcasing stories from her random road trip adventures.
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