I learned about the Roadside America app from my friend Vikki almost exactly a year ago. I’ve used it sporadically; sometimes I forget that I have it and don’t think to look up roadside attractions near me until it’s too late and I’m already at my destination. Also, I can’t really use it when I’m on a solo road trip because I usually think about it when I’m driving and unable to use my phone like that, rather than when I’m stopped at a gas station.
This week, however, I used the app differently. I accompanied Jim on a work trip to Cleveland and not wanting to languish in the hotel for three straight 8am-5pm days, I decided to make some advance plans around local roadside oddities.
The Cleveland area is rich with quirky things to see, and as I sat in our room looking them up on the app I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep it all straight while by myself, let alone see everything I picked out in an efficient manner. That’s when I pulled out my laptop.
Opening Google Maps, I entered the address of each roadside attraction (add destination, add destination, add destination…). What resulted was a zig-zaggy route that took me all over creation (and the wider Cleveland area). By zooming in on the route and then clicking and dragging my stops on the list into an order that would conserve gas and time, I ended up planning a great morning of discovery. I sent the directions to myself so I knew which order they needed to be plugged into my car’s navigation system, and then took off.
Because I didn’t write down which roadside attraction would be found at each address I visited, it truly became a scavenger hunt. Who knew it was possible to plan a scavenger hunt for one’s SELF? Now we all do. I had a rush of joy each time one of the oddities came into view, and when I stopped to take photos I mentally checked off each accomplishment and also marked my visit in the app.
Using the Roadside America app on the fly is great if you can remember about it en route and also operate it safely. The method I used on this trip took a lot more forethought and planning but I highly recommend it when you want to intentionally spend a few hours discovering local treasures, by yourself or with some fun-seeking kids. I’m already planning my next adventure!