Every region of the United States provides interesting road trip options, but when researching options for your family, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you have younger children who might get cranky quickly, then plan a shorter trip. Even older kids get bored easily; so find a road trip that has fun stops that everyone will enjoy. Of all the great options around the country, here are a few of my personal favorite US road trips your kids will love.
San Francisco to Big Sur
The Pacific Coast Highway in California stretches the entire length of the state and all sections provide something different to see and do. The drive from the south of San Francisco to Big Sur is one of the most popular road trips and offers a lot to families in particular. Of course, everyone will enjoy kicking off the trip by driving across the Golden Gate Bridge with sweeping views of the bay. Spend some time in San Francisco and visit Alcatraz, ride a cable car or even walk the length of the bridge.
After exploring the city, drive south to Monterey and visit the massive Monterey Aquarium or check out the quaint shops of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Afterwards, continue south to Big Sur and enjoy some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the U.S; be sure to stop for photos along the way!
Albuquerque to Taos, New Mexico
New Mexico doesn’t always make the lists of family travel destinations, and that’s too bad. Go in early October during the picturesque Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for a festival like none other. After watching the balloons take off into the early morning sky, check out Old Town Albuquerque and let the kids have fun at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
If you have time, make the easy 1-hour drive north to Santa Fe and spend some time trivago magazineg out the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum or the other fabulous museums in the state capital. If you’re up for it, enjoy a drive through the mountains along the High Road to Taos and check out the Rio Grande River Gorge or learn about the ancient civilization at Taos Pueblo.
Miami to Key West, Florida
If a drive through paradise is on your bucket list, then don’t skip Florida’s famous seven-mile bridge. Speaking from experience, driving over the bridges that connect the Florida Keys to the mainland is a magical experience and for kids it’s even more special. Seeing the beautiful blue water on both sides of the highway is enough to make any child forget he or she is in a car and the time seems to fly by. There is plenty of fun for the whole family both in Miami and Key West, so be sure to spend time exploring both areas. Trust me, this is a road trip memory that truly will last a lifetime.
This may surprise you, but, in my opinion, the entire Oregon coastline is a thing of beauty. For the perfect drive, start in Astoria at the massive bridge over the Columbia River and drive as far south as you feel like going.
Make sure the kids have seen “The Goonies” before hitting the road though; this 1980s classic takes place in and around Astoria. There are myriad nooks and crannies to explore, like the beautiful Haystack Rock just off the beach in Cannon Beach. Honestly, this whole coastline offers cute towns filled with art galleries and great food along with beautiful beaches to spend the day watching ocean waves crash ashore.
Your children will have a better understanding of the “Mother Road” if they’ve watched “Cars,” which takes place in a fictional town in the American Southwest along old Route 66. The road is no longer the magical connector from Chicago to L.A., but there are several parts that still exist where the tentacles of the interstate highway system hasn’t yet reached.
Check out a portion in Illinois or Missouri where old diners still operate; homey places perfect for a cherry pie and cup ‘o joe. Or for something more unusual visit New Mexico where the Mother Road runs through the heart of Albuquerque, lit up in all of its neon glory. Better yet, combine a drive on parts of Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona, with a visit to the Grand Canyon just to the north. This is the most quintessential of all US Road trips your kids will love!