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Bringing Back Roadside Picnics

I am old enough to remember when you took a road trip this is how we traveled - Roadside Picnics! Mom packed a cooler with sandwiches and drinks and when it was lunch time we just pulled over! Sometimes we just pulled over on the side of the road and other times at a rest stop. It was normal! How many of you remember foil-wrapped drinks?? The OG Yeti!

I, like my parents and everyone else, moved past this vintage roadside picnics but I'm bringing it back! Let's bring back roadside meals. Tag me with your pics!

Did you know:

  • The first picnic table was placed on the side of the highway in the 1920's and people loved it! This was in response, by engineer Allen Williams, to seeing people spread out lunch on the side of the road.

  • In the 1950's as part of a Beautification project roadside "parks" were built as part of the interstate highway system

  • The 1960's and 1970's Rest Areas/Rest Stops continued to develop and became more creative in style, making it more inviting to stop.

Roadside Meals

  • Rest areas/stops almost always have picnic tables as well as restrooms and make for a great picnic spot, some even have charcoal grills! My husband's favorite rest stop is in SC where they have a giant porch swing. I like the ones in VA when the have the "Love" signs.

  • Follow the Brown Sign! Brown road signs point to attractions, many of which are parks and campgrounds that allow picnicking. This is one of our favorite things to do. When we get hungry we shout out, "Look for a brown sign!". We have found fascinating places we would not have seen otherwise, like museums, historical sites, and nuclear plants.

  • Look for rivers and creeks that have a place to park or pull over, throw a blanket on the ground, plop on a rock, or sit on the back of the car and pull out the picnic items!

  • On the side of the road. Some major highways and roads do not allow you to park or pull over, but many side roads do. If you are traveling and hungry, try pulling over and having a picnic on a quiet country road.

How To prep

I'm sure it's clear, but you do need to do a little planning ahead, but don't worry it's easy.

  • Fill a cooler with ice packs, and either make sandwiches ahead and put them in the cooler or bring the items needed to make sandwiches.

  • Add in something on the side like fruit or chips

  • Don't forget to include water bottles or drinks.

  • It's helpful to keep a knife, napkins, wet wipes or cloths, and any other utensils you may need as well. Some people get very elaborate, you can too. Make your roadside picnic exciting!

OK, I've got where and how, but why?

  • Saves money

  • Is usually more peaceful and enjoyable

  • Breaks up your trip

  • Becomes a "destination" adding to the adventure of your trip

  • Is quick and easy

  • Creates memories

  • Better conversation. We have found that we look forward to this part of the trip and spend more time talking and engaged with each other.

  • Exercise. Many rest stops/areas have walking trails or loops. Some are connected to very nice trails in town.

  • Is an activity to participate in with others. Some people bring tablecloths, real cutlery, lemonade, salads, desserts, etc.! What will you bring?

What if it rains or the weather is bad? That's a great question! This is where car meals happen. Pull out the cooler and find someplace to park with a great view and enjoy lunch. You can make it work. If you know ahead of time pack car friendly food.

Van and I are Bringing Back Road Side Picnics, will you join us?


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