12 Best Road Trips in the U.S. to Take With Kids

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Classic family road trips may be famous for the constant “Are we there yet?” but they also provide memories of a lifetime. This kind of vacation is all about the journey, allowing families to reconnect and enjoy the sights along the way. Of course, the destinations themselves can offer plenty of fun too. Whether you’re looking for a trip along the west coast, down south, or anywhere in between, there’s sure to be an appealing idea among this list.

Seattle to San Francisco Via the Pacific Coast Highway
Home of the final stop on the Lewis and Clark expedition

Seattle to San Francisco Via the Pacific Coast Highway

If you don’t already live in the Seattle area, the city is a great place to start, with many bucket-list attractions, including Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. From here, you can hop on the car ferry to access Highway 101 on the Olympic Peninsula, traveling south along the Pacific Coast Highway. If you have time, don’t miss Olympic National Park. After crossing the famous Astoria–Megler Bridge you’ll be in Astoria, Oregon well-worth exploring too. But a must-stop is Seaside, with all sorts of amusements for the kids, including an aquarium where you can feed the sea lions, arcades, and a long sandy beach. Cannon Beach is just a few minutes further, home to iconic Haystack Rock.

The scenery just keeps getting better as you travel down the Oregon coast, with rugged cliffs, crashing waves, and sand dunes that stretch for over 40 miles in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. After entering California, you can see the giant redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks. You might want to spend more time in the Victorian village of Mendocino before concluding in San Francisco where you can gaze up at the Golden Gate, visit Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and more.

Charleston, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia
Oak-lined road at Wormsloe Historic Site

Charleston, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia

For a shorter route that reveals two of the most popular southern cities covering only about 108 miles, you might stretch it out a bit by stopping at Kiawah Island, home to a natural santuary and a river where dolphins are frequently spotted. If you bring your bikes you can pedal through miles and miles of scenic bike trails. Hilton Head is great for a day at the beach, playing mini-golf and arcade games at Adventure Cove or enjoying big thrills by riding a zipline above the treetops at Zip Line & Aerial Adventures. Once in Savannah, give the kids a treat at one of the candy shops on River Street, visit UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium or head to Tybee Island for fun on the sand.

Boston to Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Sandy Neck Beach, Cape Cod

Boston to Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

It’s just 116 miles from Boston to the extreme tip of Cape Cod, but there’s a ton of things to do along the way. First, you must stop to see Plymouth Rock if you haven’t already, and you can learn more about the country’s earliest years at Plimoth Patuxet Museums where history comes to life through costumed characters with in-depth knowledge of the period. Once on the Cape, take the scenic route on 6A which features many grand historic homes and picturesque views without the traffic. In Provincetown, there are 30 miles of beaches and a colorful downtown with fudge shops, outstanding seafood shacks, and opportunities for wildlife watching, including whales.

Denver to Cripple Creek, Colorado
Garden Of The Gods, Colorado Springs

Denver to Cripple Creek, Colorado

This short road trip option covers 115 miles and typically takes around two hours and 15 minutes to cover, but it’s jam-packed with attractions, so you’ll want to take it slow. The first stop about 70 miles in at the Garden of the Gods with more than 300 stunning red rock formations and 15 miles of trails for viewing them. Cave of the Winds is less than 15 minutes away off Highway 24 with magnificent geological formations that can be viewed on a tour. Seven Falls is worth the short detour south for an up close view of gorgeous cascades, while Old Colorado City, the original capital of the Colorado Territory, provides a look back in time.

Once in Cripple Creek, you can head a thousand feet underground at the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine, ride the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, search for the friendly wild burros, explore fascinating museums, and even rent a log cabin.

San Francisco to San Diego, California
McWay falls in Julia Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur, California

San Francisco to San Diego, California

If you’re more interested in the southern half of the Pacific Coast Highway, travel from San Francisco to San Diego, an approximately 600-mile drive on a beautifully scenic route. The kids will love visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk which offers rides for all ages along with games, arcades, and other entertainment, while Seymour Marine Discovery Center is home to the world’s largest whale skeleton. From there, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then travel over the west coast’s most photographed bridge in Big Sur. There are some fabulous beaches in this area of the Central Coast, including Julia Pfeiffer Beach which has one beach with a waterfall and another stretch with purple sand.

Families with older kids shouldn’t miss a tour of iconic Hearst Castle in San Simeon, and once you reach the L.A. area the options are endless from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Disneyland. End in San Diego with a visit to the legendary San Diego Zoo and then relax on one of the many beautiful beaches.

Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, DC
Capitol building in Washington DC

Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, DC

If you drive straight from Boston to Washington, DC, it’s about a 440-mile road trip, but this is one that you’ll want to take your time with and make a few detours too as it’s jam-packed with history. Begin with a walk on the Freedom Trail to see many famous sites like Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House, and Paul Revere’s House. Head south to Newport, Rhode Island to stretch your legs on the Cliff Walk with the sea on one side and the stunning Newport mansions on the other.

Gaze up at the Statue of Liberty and visit Ellis Island in New York City and then venture to Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and where the Declaration of Independence was signed. In Baltimore, check out Fort McHenry National Monument where the story of the national anthem began. There’s plenty to do in the nation’s capital, with most of the Smithsonian Museums free, including a favorite, the National Museum of Natural History.

Miami to Key West, Florida
Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

Miami to Key West, Florida

The views are stunning throughout much of the Overseas Highway which begins near Miami stretching for 113 miles as a series of roads and 42 trans-ocean bridges, all the way to the country’s southernmost point, Key West. Consider stopping to take the kids snorkeling with instructions and equipment all provided at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. The underwater world is home to a wealth of colorful fish and coral reefs. In Key West, enjoy the relaxed vibe, watching for dolphins, spending time on white sand beaches, and enjoying entertainment at Mallory Square.

Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Blue Ridge Parkway
View of Grandfather Mountain from Blue Ridge Parkway

Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Blue Ridge Parkway

Traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway makes for an outstanding family road trip, linking Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This one is ideal for those who like to hike as there are miles and miles of trails just off the road. Start from the Rockfish Gape Entrance Station at Shenandoah National Park and be sure to snap a shot of Natural Bridge, the 215-foot tall natural arch in Natural Bridge State Park. A break in Roanoke to play the 55 machines at Roanoke Pinball Museum that date back to the 1930s is sure to make for a good time, and in Asheville you might want to tour one of America’s few castles, Biltmore Estate. When you reach Gatlinburg, the attractions are endless, and it’s a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone National Park, Montana

A 121-mile adventure brings some of the most jaw-dropping views and wildlife watching opportunities. Start on the insanely windy Beartooth Highway, often named one of the country’s most breathtaking (and harrowing) drives as the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. It travels 68 miles before traversing northwest to Cooke City-Silver Gate near the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park. From there continue by traveling through the park towards West Yellowstone, checking out the geothermal features and watching for everything from bison and elk to wolves and bears.

Las Vegas, Nevada to Grand Canyon, Arizona
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Las Vegas, Nevada to Grand Canyon, Arizona

Las Vegas has become a lot more family-friendly in recent years, including kid-friendly shows and amusement rides. It’s also a gateway for many national parks in the Southwest, making it an ideal spot to begin this road trip. Do the “National Park Grand Circle Tour,” which includes Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and Grand Canyon National Park. Start at Zion, only about three hours northeast of Las Vegas, with spectacular red cliffs and narrow slot canyons where a river runs through. Each park has its own notable features like Bryce with the world’s largest expanse of hoodoos, and of course the Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Badlands and the Black Hills, South Dakota
Wild burro, Custer State Park

Badlands and the Black Hills, South Dakota

You might be surprised to learn just how much South Dakota has to offer on this road trip. Start on scenic Badlands Loop Road in Badlands National Park to witness spellbinding rock formations. Then head west to Custer State Park to drive Needles Highway which features breathtaking and bizarre spires. The park is home to multiple lakes for swimming and other water sports, trails for hiking, and one of the largest free-roaming buffalo herds as well as the famous “begging burros” and other wildlife like elk, wild turkey, and mountain goats.

Durango to Ouray on the San Juan Skyway - Colorado
Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Durango to Ouray on the San Juan Skyway - Colorado

Begin in the town of Durango, famous for its historic steam train and Old West feel, traveling along the San Juan Skyway to Silverton, much of which is a designated National Historic District, all tucked between two San Juan Mountain passes. From there, follow the “Million Dollar Highway” stretch through a region known as the Switzerland of America, with every turn boasting some of the most awe-inspiring views on the planet. Once in Ouray, you can end your journey with a soak in the hot springs.

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