So what do you do when you’d like to take a road trip, but you don’t have the cash or, more importantly, the time to do so? Simple. You grab the fam and make a run to Wally’s!
What’s Wally’s? I’m glad you asked.
Wally’s is a service station superstore with two locations in Missouri and Illinois that bills itself as the “Home of the Great American Road Trip” and honestly, they are killing it. Sure, it’s a filling station, but it is also so much more and, truth be told, a fun destination in its own right. While I have only been to the Fenton MO location, I can testify to its kitschy (yet family friendly) awesomeness. This is not a truck stop, but a travel center.
Spanning 36,000 square feet Wally’s includes:
-72+ filling stations
-Electric recharging stations
-Large, clean, family friendly restrooms (20 women’s stalls, 10 men’s stalls/11 urinals)
-In store Wi-Fi
-Super large beverage stations including multiple fountain drinks and “Sloosh” machines
– BBQ carving station (for sandwiches)
-Beef jerky and Summer Sausage station
-In house bakery
-In house Pizza
-Pop Corn Station
-Ice Cream Station
-Road worthy snacks, both mass produced and Wally’s exclusive
-Loads of Wally’s merch
-Books and Toys for the kiddos
-Their own Spotify playlists
-An adorable bear mascot (and his friends)
On our family excursion to Wally’s we all got lunch there. The kids had pizza slices and pulled pork sandwiches, while the parental units both opted for sliced brisket sandwiches. The BBQ is surprisingly good and highly recommended. The kids all enjoyed their slooshes too. I can’t report on the pizza slice since somebody didn’t share, but it was devoured quickly and received a thumbs up. We also returned with some excellent cheddar popcorn, yummy gummy candies and some malted milk balls that put your average Whoppers to shame. I also picked up some jerky (original and honey jalapeno) that will be accompanying me to work for the next week or so.
What I like most about Wally’s is the vibe. A gas mart/convenience store that big is pretty ridiculous when you think about it, but there’s a sense of humor to it all. There’s a very 70s feel to a lot of the merch and decor, but in a way that is both nostalgic and “contemporary ironic” which is a style description I just made up, but it fits. I especially like the murals of family road tips on the walls, and of course, Wally Bear being everywhere. The 70’s styling on the soda machines with retro logos are an especially nice touch.
Okay, now it’s time to address the, well, not elephant, but the other animal in the room. By now most of my readers from the South will be shouting at their screens to let me know that Wally’s seems to share a business model and a lot of the same attributes as a certain well loved chain with a beaver for a mascot that more or less does the same thing. Okay, sure, I won’t argue that.
However, Southerners, you’ve had that particular chain since 1982, and you haven’t shared with us. So being Mid-Westerners, we pulled up our bootstraps and we made our own. And it rules. Besides, bears are bigger, better, and badder than beavers any day of the week. So there.
Anyway, non-existent rivalries aside, next time you’re passing through on a road trip (or even if you just find yourself in the area) stop in at Wally’s. Get yourself some gas, some grub, maybe a t-shirt or a hat, and get back on the road with a smile on your face and a belly full of goodness.
Wally’s. home of the Great American Road Trip, and MonDAVEs approved.
This was NOT a paid advertisement, by the way. I just really dig Wally’s.
See you next week.