Joe: Our motto is "Enjoy The Journey." One of the things we do to make our daily travels entertaining is to find an interesting place to have lunch.
The only prerequisites are that it have a reasonably level place to park our rig, and offers free or nominal admission. We typically plan on spending a couple of hours.
Here are samples of the places we have taken our lunch breaks. Community parks or playgrounds make great places to stop for lunch if you are traveling with children. It gives the kids something to look forward to during the morning. They can work off their pent up energy and, at the same time, learn how to meet other kids. Sometimes the combination of lunch and exercise will result in a nap (theirs, not yours). Factory outlet malls seem to be located along every interstate highway throughout the country. They give Vicki something to look forward to, release our pent-up cash and definitely result in me taking a nap.
Vicki: The smokejumper base off I-90 in Missoula, Montana, offers tours conducted by Forest Service firefighting smokejumpers. After listening to their first-hand accounts of parachuting into forest fires I found myself walking away muttering, "and they love it!"
Bonneville Lock and Dam on I-84 east of Portland, Oregon has underwater windows that let you watch the salmon negotiating the fish ladders as they migrate upstream.
Natural Bridge north of Roanoke, Virginia on I-81 offers a pleasant stroll along Cedar Creek to a natural arch. The spot where George Washington, father of our nation, carved his initials in the limestone wall can still be seen. I guess this also makes him the father of our graffitti "artists."
Wall Drug Store in on I-90 in Wall, South Dakota has become a famous stop for tourists. You'll see their entertaining roadside signs for miles in every direction. In addition to gobs of parking space (including a sign requesting aircraft to park at the airport), Wall Drug offers food, western gear and lots of gifts and souvenirs. It's still a drug store, too.
Presidential Libraries make good lunch stops. There usually seems to be plenty of free parking. But some of the presidential libraries are so interesting we found ourselves spending the better part of an afternoon viewing the exhibits.
Check out small town museums, old U.S. Army cavalry forts and Spanish missions. They're interesting, quiet, and provide insight into the history of our country.
Our favorite lunch stops are the places that offer factory tours. We have tasted wines in California, toured lumber mills in the northwest, watched them make steel and assemble automobiles in the midwest, toured textile mills in New England, visited cigarette factories in the south and sampled beer in St. Louis.
Try stopping for lunch at places that look like they may be interesting. Stop at a few that don't look interesting (you may be surprised). In any case, get off the road, look around and ... Enjoy The Journey!