Friday, February 3, 2017

The Best RV Freebies on the Road

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Never Pass up a
Visitor Center

Love freebies? The best free advice RV travelers can find on the road is at official Visitor Centers/Centres in the U.S. and Canada.
How can you make the best of these resources?

It may be called a Visitor Center, Visitor Information Center or Welcome Center. In some small communities, the Chamber of Commerce also serves as the welcome center. The key word is official.

Start with a search for Visitor+Center+State (or region or city).

* You’re looking for centers sponsored by state, regional or local  authorities. In tourist areas,  don’t be lured by big signs for tee shirt shops, discount Disney ticket sellers  and other for-profit businesses that call themselves information centers.

* Scope it out ahead of time,  by phone if necessary, to make sure there is parking for an RV.  Ask about other facilities. It may also have spacious grounds, dump station,  a dog walk area, picnic tables and playground equipment. 

  * State and provincial welcome centers are usually found at interstate exits at heavily
 traveled entry points from adjoining states. Note their hours of operation, which may vary seasonally.

* Most have brochure racks,  clean restrooms and free maps. Many also offer discount coupons for camping, hotels or meals. Ask.  Some  sell state fishing or hunting licenses. Staffers may also be willing to call around and get a last-minute campground reservation for your.

* The center may offer an app or CD describing a self-guided driving or walking tour of the area.  Ask.

* Spend time here to stretch your legs, rest your eyes. The best staffers love to talk about where you’re from and where you’re going. The more you chat, the more insider information you get.

* Don’t fail to sign the guest book. Their funding is based on the amount of traffic they get.

* Shop here for  souvenirs. If they sell local arts and crafts, local citizens benefit.  

* Take time to look at the center’s exhibits. Some centers are like small museums, well worth a lingering visit.

Outstanding Visitor Centers include:
If you have a favorite welcome center, please leave a comment and share. 

Detroit Mexicantown Downtown Welcome Center, Michigan,  overlooks the Detroit River.  It has vending machines, picnic tables, restrooms and an RV dump station.
            St. Augustine (Florida) Visitor Welcome Center has a special parking area for RV’s. Leave the RV here, see the movie, then walk the nearby historic area.
            Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, Orick , in the Redwoods region of California. The complex offers ranger talks, a film, books, souvenirs and beach access.

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