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American Eats: New Jersey. Any New Jersey Toll Road Service Plaza
New Jersey is known for a lot of things. Diners. Italian Restaurants. The Sopranos. Disco fries. And toll roads.
Let me tell you that I’ve eaten at a lot of diner in New Jersey and I’m gonna be perfectly honest; they all run together to me. I’ve eaten at them in New Brunswick, Hoboken, Secaucus, Dover and Jersey City, and other places and none of them truly stand out in my mind. I know it’s sad, but it’s true.
What stands out about New Jersey? Service Plazas. Because they are EVERYWHERE.
New Jersey has two major, long toll roads.
The New Jersey Turnpike connects the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Delaware with the George Washington Bridge and New York City. It is a 117-mile-long strip of asphalt that is among the busiest roads in the country.
Meanwhile, the Garden State Parkway is even longer, checking in at 172 miles. The Parkway connects Ramapo near the New York State line with the beach towns of the Jersey Shore, ending in Cape May.
Both roads have seemingly endless service plazas along them. Every one of them has a Travel Mart and a Sunoco gas station. They also have either a Burger King, Sbarros, Auntie Anne’s, or Roy Rogers. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority is in the process of rehabilitating these Plazas across the state.
As part of their rehabilitation process, they are in the process of renaming all of those Service Areas after…New Jersey celebrities.
Yes, New Jersey has been naming Service Plazas for celebrities for a while. But they are converting all of their rest areas to be named for celebrities…though “celebrity” may be a reach.
Here’s a sampling.
They even name rest areas after racist former Presidents. No, not that one….
Everybody driving the I-95 corridor has stopped at one of these Service Plazas. They are an integral part of the travel experience and, more so than any other New Jersey landmark, they are the one thing that nearly all non-New Jersey residents think of first when talking about their visits to the state.