Believe it or not, Americans love to debate about the best gas station in the United States.
Given the amount of time we spend on the road, it’s no wonder we value our fuel stop experience, especially during a long road trip.
Wawa and Buc-ee’s are known for their loyal clientele. So which gas station is the best?
Let’s find out!
The Debate: Wawa vs Buc-ee’s Gas Stations
Convenience stores began to emerge in the late 1920s when store owners saw more and more people needing essential goods after hours. With the post-war two suburban sprawl came the expansion of The American Dream. More land, more cars, more stuff.
The convenience of driving up to the gas pump and grabbing snacks and something spontaneous was freedom.
Wawa stores have been perfecting the art of the one-stop gas station since the 1960s. Although Buc-ee’s got into the game a couple of decades later, they’ve quickly become fierce competitors. Both offer cheap gas and snacks, plus useless but fun items like stuffed animals.
You can find Wawa stores in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Buc-ee’s started in Texas and holds court in much of The South. But it’s possible to visit each establishment while on a road trip from New York City to Dallas. Floridians are lucky to have both chain stores in their state.
In fact, many road trip enthusiasts make stopping at a Wawas and a Buc-ee’s part of their travel plans!
Pro Tip: Not stopping for food at Wawa or Buc-ee’s isn’t the only way to ruin your road trip! In fact, these are 5 Ways to Ruin Your Road Trip.
The first Wawa Food Market opened in 1964 in Folsom, Pennsylvania. George Wood had started the Wawa Dairy Farm in 1902, and his grandson Grahame expanded the business into becoming convenience stores in the 60s.
Community involvement and innovation have been a part of the Wawa brand from the beginning. Wawa hosted Irish students as part of a scholarship program in the 80s. For its 50th anniversary, Wawa launched a nonprofit to donate money towards social causes like autism awareness and hunger relief.
Above all, Wawa is a fantastic convenience store! You’ve got cheap gas, a variety of food, and no-fee ATMs. Wawa has over 840 Locations on the East Coast and in Florida, with more on the way.
Buc-ee’s chain of travel centers started with a small store in Clute, Texas, in 1982. Arch “Beaver” Aplin has fond memories of growing up spending time and his grandaddy’s general store. His childhood inspired him to open Buc-ee’s, and he wanted it to be the biggest and the best.
With 41 travel centers, the Buc-ee’s chain continues to expand. And Arch certainly succeeded in his dream when his store won the world record for the largest gas station.
But Buc-ee’s is more than a gas station; it’s an experience. From the beginning, Arch wanted to build stores where customers could meander. The layout changes depending on whether you’re in the food aisle or the t-shirt section. And the company encourages local vendors to apply to sell their merch. Variety is the spice of life at Buc-ee’s.
Buc-ee’s gas stations are found in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Florida. Additional stores are coming soon across the South and as far north as Colorado.
What’s So Great About Wawa?
Wawa has become an integral part of Pennsylvania history. You may not find it in your college textbook, but to the locals, Wawa means home. Generations have been congregating at their local Wawa for decades. The gatherings start by accident, or good timing, and become a way of life.
As for the weary roadside traveler, Wawa’s got a great cup of coffee waiting for you. Wawa employees make fresh varieties of coffee every hour and dump the rest. Add a hoagie, soft pretzel, or jalapeno popper to your purchase, and you’ll be ready to get back on the road!
Wawa’s also offers mobile ordering through its new app. How cool is that? Wawa’s might be the best gas station around.
What’s So Great About Buc-ee’s?
Are you looking for a gift shop, a car wash, or maybe the best barbecue in town? Buc-ee’s has it all!
The food choices at Buc-ee’s might make it the best gas station around. Beyond what you’d typically find at a truck stop, the company produces name-brand snacks and clothing.
They sell wine and even offer food pairing recommendations. You can even have them cut just the right amount of their homemade fudge for you. Buc-ee’s even has a jerky bar!
Perhaps best of all, Buc-ee’s pays their employees better than most in the industry. They offer 401K plans and three weeks of paid vacation. They even have a wage sign in the store for complete transparency.
Pro Tip: Stopping at Wawa or Buc-ee’s for a road trip snack? Make sure to Avoid These Foods on Your Travel Day.
Is Wawa or Buc-ee’s the Best Gas Station in America?
We love Wawa and have been avoiding writing this article for some time. We’re not breaking up with Wawa. But dang it, Buc-ee’s seems to be the best gas station in America.
Buc-ee’s has put so much thought into every aspect of what one might want during a long drive. The layout and color design immediately lifts your spirits.
The quality of in-house food is superior to any convenience store we’ve ever been to. Take their hot sandwiches, for example, wrapped for easy grab-n-go. And their bathrooms are private and incredibly clean!
The growing number of Buc-ee’s fans praise the massive store size. Rumors are that the new Alabama and Georgia stores are just as huge. Buc-ee’s has it all, whether you’re looking to get lost in the food aisle or buy a framed horse poster.
Wawa and Buc-ee’s Are Both Excellent Gas Station Stops
Both Wawa and Buc-ee’s have plenty to offer. Each is a destination as well as a pit stop. Cheap gas and plenty of pumps are just a fraction of what makes these convenience stores so popular.
Although we rank Buc-ee’s over Wawa, we think you should go to both! Have you already been? Let us know in the comments!
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