Wally's Pontiac, Illinois

Wally’s – Pontiac, IL

This weekend, my wife and I went for a drive from St. Louis to Chicago. Along the way, like a beacon in the night, we spotted a blaze orange Wagoneer strategically parked close enough to the highway so we could make out the word “Wally’s” emblazoned on the faux wood paneling. Fate led us to stopping at what we’d come to learn is the cleanest gas station in America.

Wally’s of Pontiac, Illinois does so many things right: barbecue smoked on site, a beef jerky bar, merchandise that you’d just as likely find in a Nordstrom, much of which has been stuffed into a full-size Winnebago, and an excellent nostalgia trip all of which is clearly inspired by National Lampoon’s Vacation and the “Great American Road Trip” (Wally’s secured the vanity address of 1 Holiday Road).

The fact that it’s in Pontiac, home to several of my favorite roadside attractions, was not lost on me. My wife kept exclaiming, “This place is definitely worth the drive from Chicago, and even more so from St. Louis!”

After speaking with Manager Darrius, I learned that Wally’s is the latest venture for the Wallis family of Cuba, Missouri. Their plan is to open a new Wally’s every year with the next one coming to Fenton, Missouri, a South County suburb of my hometown, St. Louis.