On road trips with my children, I usually stop at the same old fast food places.  I know good stopping places in Cambridge, Zanesville and Columbus, Ohio.  On the Indiana-to-home run, I tend to stop in Morgantown (voted #1 party university location again this year) and in Cambridge, Maryland.

This trip, we actually tried something new.  Our Indiana friend, Shawn, worked at Steak & Shake during his college years.  He took my son to a Steak & Shake, and now we’re hooked.  The shakes involve real ice cream and real maraschino cherries – worth big points, if you ask my children. Steak & Shake offers chicken sandwiches, even a chicken melt, which helps the Anti-Beef Parental Units (that’s me).  Kids’ meals involve food, not silly toys.  I’m onboard.

When we drive on weekdays, we also enjoy sampling lunch buffets – nearly every strip mall has a Chinese restaurant, and there’s always Pizza Hut – instead of relying on All Things Clown and King.  We can eat endless pizza for the same price as a clowny drive-through meal.  We sit together and stretch our legs.  It’s time well spent, and money well invested.

I’m not much of a picnic person (my ideal picnic involves my personal baguette, knife and jar of Nutella), but picnics can create great road trip memories.  I’ll never forget the leftover lamb spiedini sandwiches my daughter’s godfather, Gene, slapped together, complete with Greek yogurt sauce, on the side of an Italian state road.  We ate alongside a sparkling stream, then tossed our trash into a bag (no trash can…we were in Italy) and watched the children run around on the grass. 

It’s always good to try new road food.  I’m sure I’ll be back at Steak & Shake, come November.  Meanwhile, I’ll dream of lamb cubes and Italian riverside parks.

If you’re planning a trip to Baltimore, check out my newest Hub:  Baltimore’s Best Kid-Friendly Attractions.