After two months of scouring much of the United States for great sights, tastes, and experiences, I have assembled my list of favorites. It is in no way exhaustive, and not meant to be the results of a best-of-America contest. I merely present it to fellow BlinkPackers (and travelers of all persuasions) as a humble guide. If you ever find yourself in any of these regions, your trip will be enriched by a visit to any of these destinations. The list is organized by state, in the order of my visit.
1. USS Alabama, Mobile, AL
An hour gives visitors a profound glimpse into the life of a navy troop.
2. Dew Drop Inn, Mobile AL
Snappy, bright-red hotdogs are topped with savory chili and flanked with epic onion rings.
3. Gulf Coast Beaches, Biloxi, MS
The pristine, bleached sands of the Mississippi beaches are among the most inviting sights in America.
6. Galveston Ferry, Galveston, TX
For an up-close look at the gulf, drive your car onto the 20 minute ferry that shuttles you to Galveston Island for free.
7. La Kings Ice Cream Shop, Galveston, TX
From malts to taffy, ice cream to truffles, this Galveston institution serves it up right.
8. Leon’s Barbecue, Galveston, TX
Leon turned his house into a barbecue joint, and you are invited to sit a spell. Don’t miss the smoked chicken breast.
9. Ocean Star, Galveston, TX
Once a working off-coast drilling rig, this museum gives visitors an up-close look into the oil industry.
10. El Potro Taqueria, Corpus Christi, TX
Visit El Potro for handmade tacos of incomparable flavor, and exchange a few dollars for a very full belly.
11. Alamo Antique Mall, San Antonio, TX
This multi-story antique emporium has a world-class used record shop tucked away into the top floor.
13. The Taco House, San Antonio, TX
Order a bowl of Texas Red and handmade tortillas — you will be glad you did.
15. Gordough’s Doughnuts, Austin, TX
Operating out of a renovated Airstream, Gordoughs whips up doughnuts with their own zip code. I gladly devoured their Canadian bacon / jalapeno jelly creation.
16. Torchy’s Tacos, Austin, TX
An Austin classic, Torchy’s Tacos has two-dozen tantalizing recipes on their menu — and not a bad one in the lot.
17. Hop Doddy’s, Austin, TX
Hop Doddy’s is held by many Austinites as the best burger in town, and I heartily agree.
18. The Cathedral of Junk, Austin, TX
Vince Hannemann has turned his backyard into one of the most unique and stunning experiences in America. If you are ever in Austin, carve a half-hour into your schedule for a visit to the holy land of garbage.
19. Trader’s Village, Dallas, TX
There is so much worthless junk for sale at Trader’s Village, and an exploration of its endless aisles will leave your jaw on the floor.
20. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
A fantastic collection of artwork is on display in downtown Dallas, and admission is always free.
21. Hart Plaza, Dallas, TX
This pristine city park offers joyful splash fountains for kids to enjoy, board games to borrow, pianos to jam upon, creative play structures, and perfectly a perfectly-manicured lawn Bonus: the food trucks line up next to the park, making way for an impromptu, gourmet picnic.
22. Johnny’s Grill, El Reno, TX
If you are within 50 miles of El Reno, you NEED to stop for a grilled onion burger. Yowza.
23. Route 66 RV Museum, Amarillo, TX
Housed on the property of an RV dealer, the Route 66 RV Museum has a breathtaking collection of vintage, perfectly-restored motorhomes and travel trailers. Admission is free.
24. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
Seven Cadillacs protrude from a field in Amarillo… It is cooler than it sounds. If you go, bring a can of spray paint — and add your own touch to the decades of artwork already there.
25. Golden Crown Panederia, Albuquerque, NM
The fruit empanadas are world-class, and the herb-cilantro bread will knock your socks off.
26. The Model Pharmacy, Albuquerque, NM
Lunch on the pharmacy’s excellent green chile stew, and wash it down with a world-class, hand crafted ice cream shake.
28. Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
Much less crowded than the more famous national parks of the west, the vistas at Petrified Forest National Park are almost as good — and they are yours to enjoy minus the crowds.
29. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Crowded as the national parks come, but with good reason. If you have never visited, put this epic destination on your list.
30. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ
The artisans at Pizzeria Bianco craft a nearly-perfect (9.8/10) Margherita pie.
31. The Frybread House, Phoenix, AZ
Frybread is a Navajo staple, and the puffy-bread tacos and sweets at this unassuming dive will satisfy even the hungriest.
33. Murray Family Farm, Bakersfield, CA
For plump, juicy pick-your-own berries and homemade pies that are downright magical, visit this charming family farm, just a couple hours north f Los Angeles.
34. Yosemite National Park, CA
Epic as epic gets — Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
35. Cuhna’s Grocery, Half Moon Bay, CA
Half Moon Bay is a charming, yuppie suburb of San Francisco, and nothing says ‘charming and yuppie’ quite like Cunha’s.
36. Cable Cars, San Francisco, CA
The cable car is a symbol of San Francisco, and you need to ride one if you are ever in town. Scale the hills of the Mason-Powell line for a visit to Chinatown (another must).
38. Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, San Francisco, CA
Watch two ladies making fortune cookies in a Chinatown alleyway. Admission is free, but taking a photo will cost you a buck.
39. Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
There is so much to see in Golden Gate Park. My favorite is a double slide carved into a granite rock formation, which gives riders a thrill as they zoom down on cardboard sleds.
41. Wine Tasting, Sonoma, CA
Sonoma is known for its wineries, and plenty of tasting opportunities await the aficionado. For those less inclined toward grapes of the fermented persuasion, the region offers enough beauty to still make the trip worthwhile.
42. One Log House, Mendocino, CA
A fallen redwood was hollowed out and converted to a mobile home of sorts. Pure roadside kitsch, this one is definitely worth the one-dollar admission price.
43. Redwood National Park, CA
Enjoy the timeless beauty of the tallest beings on earth in this other-worldly natural destination.
45. Crescent City Lighthouse, Crescent City, CA
An island every high tide, this antiquated lighthouse still operates today. Tours are limited as the small house doubles as a private residence for the keeper.
46. Newman’s Fish Co., Eugene, OR
The fishmongers at Newman’s know how to bread and fry a fillet, and the line of hungry patrons offers plenty of proof. Don’t miss the seafood chowder.
48. Pok Pok, Portland, OR
Pok Pok is famous for taking classic Vietnamese street food recipes and taking it up a notch (or seven). Their fish-sauce wings are a must-order.
49. Pine State Biscuits, Portland, OR
This landmark breakfast spot takes North Carolina classics and zips them up with a hefty dash of Portland sauce.
50. I love Thai, Portland, OR
One of my favorite dishes from the entire trip — mango curry — came from this humble food cart.
51. Rivento Pizzeria, Portland, OR
Pizza by the slice outside of New York City can be risky business, but Rivento does it right, and on the cheap too.
52. Saturday Market, Portland, OR
Where else can you get a bowl made of forks and knives, a deep-tissue massage, and a platter of wasabi ginger noodles on the same block?
53. Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR
Those ubiquitous pink boxes spotted everywhere around the city hold some of the finest doughnuts money can buy.
54. Rose Garden Portland, OR
Admission to this stunning garden is free, and visitors are treated to experimental cross-breeds of roses, seen nowhere else in the world.
55. Bike Rental, Portland, OR
No American city embraces bicycle culture quite like Portland. If you are visiting, rent one (there are local bike shops on every other block) and take it for a spin through town and up into the hilly surroundings. You will be glad you did.
56. Multnomah Falls, OR
A short drive outside the city of Portland, Multnomah is one of the most magnificent falls in America, and phenomenal views are an easy, 10-minute hike away.
57. Salt and Straw, Portland, OR
Certain ingredients have no business making cameos as ice cream flavors, but Salt and Straw doesn’t care — and the results are fabulous. I highly recommend the balsamic strawberry or the pear and blue cheese. And be sure to order yours in a hand-rolled waffle cone.
58. Snoqualmie Falls, WA
The volume of water cascading down Snoqualmie Falls is mind-bending, and this natural wonder has easy, roadside access for all to enjoy.
59. Alweg Monorail, Seattle, WA
An artery of transport during the World’s Fair, the art-deco Alweg Monorial is a national landmark that doubles as a mode of transportation between Seattle’s Space Needle and the central downtown shopping district.
60. The Big Wheel, Seattle, WA
For incomparable views of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound, cough up 13 bucks for three spins on one of the biggest Ferris wheels in the USA.
61. The Space Needle, Seattle, WA
No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the most recognizable structure in its (or just about any city’s) skyline.
63. Bottechia Italiana, Seattle, WA
Stop into Bottechia Italiana on a toasty day for a refreshing scoop of smooth, sumptuous gelato. For true refreshment, select the lemon sorbetto — the small size will handily satisfy.
64. Twede’s Cafe, Fall City, WA
This cookie-cutter small-town luncheonette is home of the world-famous Twin Peaks Cherry Pie, featured on the television series of the same name.
65. Mel’s Diner, Yakima, WA
For a breakfast extravaganza served amid a buffet of chrome and neon, don’t miss this Yakima classic.
66. The White House, Yakima, WA
If you like ham and scrambled eggs for breakfast, you will love the simple luxury of dining at Yakima’s famed White House.
67. The Crazy Cow, Yakima, WA
The ice cream at The Crazy Cow is solid, and there are 40 flavors to boot. But the homemade, buttery pretzels with a slightly-sweet dough are what put this snack bar on the map.
68. Wine-o-Clock, Prosser, WA
Feel like a celebrity for a day as you sip local wines and munch on perfectly-charred oven-fired pizza creations at this romantic vineyard and restaurant.
69. Yellowstone National Park, WY
If you want to stand atop an active volcano and watch the ground bubble around you, this is the place to do it.
70. Capitol Building, Boise, ID
Ensconced in decadent creamy-white marble, the palatial capitol building of Boise, Idaho is the most elegant I have seen.
71. Bruneau Dunes State Park, ID
The tallest sand dunes in the United States can be found in… Idaho? (Whaaa?) Yep. And Bruneau State Park visitors can climb, jump, and scramble until their hearts are content and their underwear is brimming with sand.
72. The Muesum of Clean, Pocatello, ID
This unique and gargantuan museum is devoted to all things clean — cleaning techniques, clean air, clean energy, clean language, clutter-free living, organizational skills, and the like. A must-visit if you are within 200 miles of Pocatello.
73. Yellowstone Bear Park, Rigby, ID
Like most visitors to Yellowstone National Park, I didn’t see any bears during my visit. Thankfully, they are readily on display a few miles south. For a hefty but worthwhile entry fee, patrons drive their cars through the interactive exhibit, putting them mere feet away from a host of free-roaming grizzly and black bear.
74. Idaho Potato Museum, Blackfoot, ID
Dedicated to the state’s most prodigious crop, this museum provides good entertainment for 15 minutes or so. While there, take a gander at the world’s largest collection of potato mashers — pure roadside awesomeness.
75. Pepperidge Farm Thrift Store, Richmond, UT
Though I wish Pepperidge Farm would allow visitors to tour the factory, they do have a magnificent store on the premises where cookies, breads, and Goldfish crackers may be purchased by the bushel for pennies on the dollar.
76. Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT
Magnificent. Odd. Staggering. Eerie. Grand. Disconcerting… All apt descriptors from this outsider’s encounter with the Mecca of Mormonism.
77. Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, UT
A landscape unlike any other, Utah’s Great Salt Lake is a stunning, sodium-encrusted other-worldly vista. Perhaps not inviting as a day at the beach, the panoramas alone are worth the short drive from the city center.
78. Bruges Waffles, Salt Lake City, UT
I ordered a simple waffle with crème fraîche and strawberries, and I was handed a piping-hot creation that turned out to be my favorite confection of the entire trip. 10 out of 10.
79. Pho Cali, Salt Lake City, UT
Pho Cali is SLC’s favorite stop for the famed Vietnamese soup, offering the freshest flavors and richest broth to its patrons for a handful of dollars.
80. China Star, Duchesne, UT
Only in America can you order chow mein, a patty melt, and a platter of taquitos from the same restaurant… and wash it all down with a chocolate banana shake.
81. Strawberry Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, CO
The pristine and inviting natural pools of Strawberry Hot Springs lavish its guests with baths of piping-hot mineral water amid an incomparable mountaintop vista. Worth whatever the owners want for admission, which currently happens to be a measly ten bucks for an all-day pass.
82. McNichols Building, Denver, CO
Denver is tuning in to the new wave of work, offering public spaces like this for working, creating art, playing ping-pong, hosting conferences, and networking. I felt right at home with my ratty t-shirt, flip-flops, and Macbook pro — and was loving the free wifi as well.
83. Denver Public Library, Denver, CO
In a world where public libraries are scrambling to keep up, Denver’s wonderful library has managed to stay relevant with top-tier collections of books, movies, music, resources for kids, periodicals, and books on tape. And it is all woven into a tapestry of technology and connectivity that makes the building a living, breathing workspace adored and embraced by throngs of city-dwellers.
84. Rocket Fizz Candy and Soda Bottle Shop, Denver, CO
For an astounding compendium of bottled soft drinks and an encyclopedia of confections, visit this energetic and colorful shop, tucked into a corner of Denver’s famed outdoor ‘mall’ (16th Street). Knowledgeable staff help patrons wade through the dizzying choices and select items that pair with their preferences.
85. Red Rocks Amphitheater, Denver, CO
Among the most beautiful and awe-inspiring venues for musical performance, the amphitheater at Red Rocks is a must-see, even if no acts are in town during your visit.
86. Cody Park, North Platte, NE
Cody Park is old-timey municipal venue with tame children’s rides and a concessionaire selling all things junk-food for nickels and dimes. Quintessential Nebraska and worth your time, especially if you have children in tow.
87. Bailey Yard, North Platte, NE
The world’s largest and busiest railroad yard is run by Union Pacific, and it welcomes visitors to view the action from an excellent observation tower. Knowledgeable staff (often retired railroad workers) gladly shed light onto this profound and mysterious industry that keeps America moving forward.
89. Pedestrian Bridge, Omaha, NE
The world’s longest pedestrian bridge links the states of Nebraska and Iowa. Walkers are treated to its sinewy architecture, fabulous views of the Omaha skyline, and an excellent public park on the Iowa side of the river.
90. Omaha Zoo, Omaha, NE
Billed as one of the most interactive zoos in operation, I was wowed by the Creatures of the Night exhibit — featuring up-close encounters with crocodiles, snapping turtles, and hundreds of bats.
91. B&G Tasty Foods, Omaha, NE
B&G offers an array of salty, bad-for-you-but-oh-so-delicious menu items including the frenchee (a grilled-cheese sandwich, battered with corn flakes and deep-fried) and the loose-meat sandwich (seasoned ground beef, cheese, pickles, onions, and mustard on a soft bun). Pure caloric ecstasy.
92. Lou Lou’s, Kansas City, KS
A classic mom-and-pop (well, actually mom-and-daughter) operation resides in a renovated service station amid the huge factories on the less-visited side of the Missouri River. Lou Lou (mother and daughter both share the same name) cook up only one dish a day, and serve it to throngs of hungry workers on their lunch break.
93. Kris ‘n Kate’s, St. Joseph, MO
Patrons may purchase excellent ice cream creations from this cone-shaped structure on St. Joseph’s main drag. I am especially fond of the soft ice cream, dipped into a vat of toasted coconut syrup that promptly transforms into a crispy shell.
94. Niecie’s, Kansas City, MO
Niecie’s serves soul food done right. Come for the chicken and waffles, stay for the open-faced hot turkey sandwich, and wash it all down with an immense slice of homemade lemon cake.
95. Union Station, Kansas City, MO
Most major cities have awesome railroad stations, and Kansas City’s is one of the most awe-inspiring I have witnessed. It also houses a fantastic model train exhibit, along with a science and discovery museum, a handful of eateries, and a working post office.
96. LC’s Barbecue, Kansas City, MO
Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, and LC’s is famous in Kansas City. Their turkey sandwich is a mountain of meat, perfectly smoked and painted with their sweet, tangy house sauce.
97. The City Museum, St. Louis, MO
This hyperactive playground space housed in a multi-story repurposed shoe factory is as appealing to a three-year-old as it is to a 30-year-old, and everyone in between.
98. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, St. Louis, MO
The creamiest, dreamiest, awesomest frozen confections can be found at Ted Drewes. Everything on the menu is five-star, but I am especially fond of the Cardinal Sin Sundae (frozen custard plus hot fudge and tart cherries).
99. Jefferson Monument to Westward Expansion, St. Louis, MO
Better known as the St. Louis Arch, this magnificent structure is a beacon of simplicity and beauty that has aptly held up to the test of time — the iPhone of monuments, if you will.
100. Home of Superman, Metropolis, IL
Before Superman was a movie franchise, the town of Metropolis, Illinois decided to link themselves with the famed comic book character of the same hometown. 35 years later, a two-story statue of the superhero overlooks the square, and visitors flock to the small town every year for Super-Con, an all-too-enthusiastic gathering of Superman fans and wannabes from all over the country.
My family is currently traveling around the USA in a 10 foot Shasta Compact travel trailer from 1969. We are currently camped in Nashville, Tennessee and headed toward Atlanta, Georgia (home). Keep it right here for tales from the journey, and please also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nothing keeps us motivated more than the encouragement of hearing from our readers, so please keep in touch by commenting below. Thanks!