On long road trips, the rest stop is a necessity, however it isn’t always a luxury. Quick pull-offs for a bathroom break or a stretch are nice, but sometimes you’re looking for more amenities than a dingy gas station bathroom has to offer. Off Interstate 95 just outside Newark, Delaware sits a rest stop that is unparalleled elsewhere in the US– a 42,000 square foot plaza, the Delaware Welcome Center Travel Plaza, which NPR compares to an art museum and an airport.
Visitors have a choice of eight places to eat — including a Starbucks — and four shops to browse around in. The plaza is owned by HMS Host. General Manager Fred Fox had this to say:
This facility is a game-changer for us and for the industry. We provide access to restrooms 24 hours a day — clean restrooms, I might add. We provide the ability for people to find a place to sit and just relax. We have pet exercise areas where you can stop, take your dog and do what it needs to do. I guess cats probably [too], but I don’t see too many cats traveling.
But don’t get your hopes up that other rest stops will follow suit. There is a federal law that prohibits private enterprises from running state-owned rest areas in order to protect businesses that run along the interstates; this particular travel plaza was grandfathered in since it was privately constructed before the federal law 1964. Which isn’t to say the state is missing out, considering it collects a percentage from food and fuel sales.
Worth a stop? Check the Yelp reviews and decide for yourself.