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How to Get the Most Out of a Visitor’s Center

If you like to stay off the interstate, you may find yourself driving through an unexpected small town that calls out, “stop here” or “best darn BBQ,” and since you’re RVing there’s no rush, right? If you’re not sure where to start in a new town you might want to head straight to the Visitor’s Center. Sounds a bit obvious I know, but so many people never use this amazing free service. However, if you don’t know the right questions to ask, you won’t get the information you need. Here’s a breakdown on how to get the most out of a visitor’s center.

Parking:

Many times we’ll call ahead and ask the visitor’s center about where we can safely park our RV. Remember, you’re not the first RV to drive through so the visitor’s center will likely have a list of parking locations to accommodate your RV.

Hours of Operation:

Some visitor’s centers are only open on the weekends, others close at 4 pm, while many are open all day and into the night. If you know you’re planning to hit a town, give them a call or check the website to confirm hours of operation.
Camping/Lodging: If you decide you want to stick around but didn’t make a reservation, the visitor’s center knows everything from where to tent camp to big rig friendly resorts and hotels.

Something for Everyone:

The visitor’s center has one job: to get you to stay in their town as long as possible and spend money! From the 5-year-old who wants an ice cream to the 90-year-old who’s looking for the best fishing spot, the visitor’s center is there to help you have fun in its town. Start by checking the walls to see if any brochures catch your eye, then ask the person behind the counter to help you plan your day based on budget, time, and activities. Some have guides on free/affordable things to do in the area. So, no matter what your budget is, there is something for everyone. Don’t forget to ask about farmers markets and special events that might be going on. Some towns have free firework shows, live concert series, and no charge art galleries.

Discounts:

Most visitor’s centers are loaded with discount coupons and special offers to area attractions. From bundle offers to buy one get one free passes, if there are discounts to be found, the visitor’s center will hook you up!

Choose Your Questions Carefully:

Visitor’s centers are setup to be non-biased information sources to help you have the best experience in the town. The problem with this is they’re not supposed to give you their opinions. Let’s use a coffee shop as an example. You don’t want to ask general opinion-based questions such as, “What’s the best coffee shop?” For me, I want non-chain, high-quality coffee with great people watching, so I ask the following: 1. Is there a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans in house? 2. Does the coffee shop have free Wi-Fi? 3. Which coffee shops bake their own pastries? 4. Do they have ample comfortable seating, or a nice street or river view patio? With this series of questions, I will end up at my best location for a quality cup of joe! Yum!

Now that you are armed with a little knowledge test it out on your next trip. If you have any tips for using a visitor’s center, share it with us in the comments below. See you on the road!