Does it live up to the “Super Size” hype?
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re back! What an epic trip it was. We drove through or stayed overnight in a total of 13 different states during the journey, including nearly a week at a resort hotel along the Atlantic coast on Florida’s Amelia Island. We won’t bore you with every location or roadside stop we made along the way, but we do want to share some details of the trip to and from Kim’s EXIT Realty Annual Convention. During the next several weeks we’ll highlight some of the very special places we visited and stayed. We hope you’ll come along with us as we share this epic 5,000-mile van road trip!
It was the end of October, and we were headed to Florida!
Three weeks away from our home base.
We would be living for two weeks in the van on the road to and from. We would spend one week staying on the Atlantic Coast of Florida at the hotel where Kim’s EXIT Realty annual convention was being held.
Planning our journey was crucial for us to arrive for the convention on time.
Kim worked out details of the trip down south, booking a few campgrounds and a long-time friend’s driveway to sleep overnight during the four-day road trip to Florida.
Our route cut across Minnesota on I-90, then to I-35 south into Iowa. We zig zagged southeast to a connection with I-80 in eastern Iowa. Our first overnight stop was going to be at a campground in Champaign, Ill.
Since we were headed in the general vicinity of Wilcott, Iowa, just outside of the twin cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Moline, Ill, we had to make a stop at IOWA 80 – The World’s Largest Truckstop!
Will It Live Up To The Hype?
We’ve heard and seen so much on social media and on YouTube from other #vanlifers about this famous truck stop. We had to see for ourselves if it was really as big and crazy as everyone built it up to be.
Pulling into the parking lot, we were kind of cynical. Could anything billed as the “World’s Largest” really live up to the name? Admittedly we also were a little excited to see what it was all about.
We took our obligatory selfies in front of the large red, blue, yellow, and white IOWA 80 sign then walked in the doors.
The first thing we saw when we walked in was a large IOWA 80 logo painted on the tile floor at the entrance. That visual clue helped to remind us that we had just entered the hallowed halls of the “World’s Largest Truckstop,” as if we didn’t already know.
Check out their website here. https://iowa80truckstop.com/
The gift store portion of the sprawling 100,000 sq. ft. retail complex was the first section we browsed.
A massive selection of trinkets, potholders, jewelry, stuffed animals, belt buckles, military emblems, tee shirts, flags, bumper stickers, fresh flowers, slippers… the list goes on. Oh, and there is a real, World War-II-era jeep parked inside the gift shop area.
As we walked further into the building, various wings extended out from this center promenade.
To the right of us was the IOWA 80 Kitchen, offering a full buffet and sit-down dining featuring breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.
To the left was the food court where you can choose between Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Caribou Coffee, and Einstein Bros. Bagels to choose from. A fully stocked convenience store is also located inside another section of the building adjacent to the food court.
Of those restaurants, Wendy’s and the IOWA 80 Kitchen restaurants are open 24-hours-a-day.
The IOWA 80 Truck Stop is open 24-hours-a-day, 365-days a year. In fact, the truck stop hasn’t closed their doors since opening day back in 1964.
Let’s Eat Something
After walking around the retail sections of the truck stop, we built up a good appetite. We decided to take a few moments to sit and have a hot meal in the IOWA 80 Kitchen restaurant before touring the rest of the truck stop and hitting the road again.
We opted for the side of the restaurant where we could sit and be waited on rather than go through the buffet, which looked good and had tons of different entrée and dessert offerings.
Kim ordered the Battered Cod dinner with a choice of one or two pieces with the Cod Dinner. Kim thankfully just ordered the one 8-ounce piece of fish, which was huge!
JK got his favorite, the Chicken Fried Beef Steak, also huge. So was the creamy pepper gravy for the Chicken Fried Steak. JK ordered the gravy “on the side,” and it came in a large soup bowl!
Truckers must love their gravy.
We really weren’t too surprised by the truck driver’s portions of food. Needless to say, we were stuffed from the meal.
Let’s walk that supper off
All of the lower floor areas of the building are open to the general public as well as for truck driving professionals.
Speaking of the pros, IOWA 80 is not just a tourist attraction, but a working truck stop with 900 big rig parking spots on property.
The truck stop also has some pretty cool, exclusive amenities for the professional driver.
IOWA 80 offers an on-site dentist, a chiropractor, a workout room, a library, and a movie theater for truckers. (We’ve heard the theater only shows trucker movies like “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Duel,” “Convoy,” and “White Line Fever.”) Just kidding!
There’s also a dog wash, a truck wash, a laundry room, 24-private showers, a driver’s den, and 24-hour truck service and repair center, among other perks.
And if your favorite color is chrome, the IOWA 80 Truckstop is your holy land!
Within the 30,000 sq. ft. Super Truck Showroom, you will find everything chrome, from exhaust pipes to mudflaps. This showroom section is so large, there are two full-size big rigs with trailers parked inside with plenty of room to spare!
Want more colored marker and clearance lights for your rig? They have a whole wall of truck lights.
Who doesn’t need a louder air horn? There’s dozens and dozens to pick from. JK tried to convince Kim that the van needed a big airhorn. She didn’t go for it.
A fully staffed custom screen printing and embroidery shop is housed within the showroom, offering on the spot logo design and printing for hats, shirts, jackets and more.
Many of the items sold in the Super Truck Showroom could be used on larger RV and motorhomes.
RVs, motorhomes and vans are welcome to park overnight at IOWA 80 in specified parking areas. Gasoline and diesel fuel is also available. Truckers have a separate fueling area.
If we had more time, we would have loved to tour the IOWA 80 Trucking Museum also located on the 100-acre property.
The building is home to more than 100 antique trucks collected over the years by Bill Moon. Included in the collection and on display at the museum are such rare rigs as a 1911 Walker Electric Model 43, a 1925 Douglas truck equipped with a well drilling rig, a 1933 Ford Paddy Wagon, and a funky looking 1954 Fageol moving van.
Other collections at the museum include over 300 original Petroliana signs, two-dozen vintage gas pumps, various antique road signs, and a full collection of restored vintage truck and vehicle toys.
The truck stop is home to the Annual Walcott Trucker’s Jamboree every July. This bigger-than-life event attracts tens of thousands of professional drivers and their friends and families. The event features live music by headliner artists, food and vendor exhibits, super truck beauty contest, truckers Olympics, and “Trucker’s Best Cab Companion ” dog beauty contest, and fireworks displays.
Check out the 2023 Jamboree at: https://iowa80truckstop.com/trucker-jamboree/
The truck stop along I-80 sees nearly 5,000 people a day through their doors, yet it didn’t feel crowded or overwhelming when we toured.
The IOWA 80 Truckstop is truly an attraction for passing travelers or can be a destination stayover stop in your RV. We can see how visitors could spend a full day or two at what is sometimes referred to as the “Trucker’s Disneyland.”
So, was it really the “World’s Largest?” In trucker speak we’d have to say – “Breaker…Breaker. That’s a Big 10-4 Good Buddy!” It’s the largest, so sure. And the owners and operators of the IOWA 80 Truckstop say they own more land for future expansion.
You can find the IOWA 80 Truckstop at 755 W. Iowa 80 Road, I-80 Exit 284 in Walcott, Iowa.