What’s not to love about a summer road trip with kids? Of course, there is the excessive amount of time spent driving, but most of us can admit it isn’t that bad. The real reward is arriving at the destination, ready to enjoy some family vacation time. We asked fellow family travel writers to share their favorite summer road trip ideas in the United States and they did not disappoint. Here are some fun driving itineraries to help plan your next vacation.
Best USA Road Trip Ideas for Families
East Coast Road Trips
Boston to Bar Harbor, Maine
A Boston to Bar Harbor road trip, at just under 300 miles one way, combines city fun, coastal beauty, and a visit to Acadia National Park. In Boston, follow the red-brick Freedom Trail, visit Faneuil Hall, or stroll through Boston Public Garden. Walk over to the North End to pick up cannolis from Mike’s Pastry. Then hit the interstate, where it’s a little less than 70 miles before you cross into Maine.
Stop and relax in Boothbay Harbor, with accommodations like the lodge and cabins at Linekin Bay Resort. Enjoy an afternoon visit to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. As you continue towards Bar Harbor, historic Fort Knox on the Penobscot River is perfect for outdoor exploration.
Finally, spend a few days enjoying Bar Harbor and nearby Acadia National Park. The new Hampton by Hilton Bar Harbor, about a mile from downtown and close to Acadia, gets high praise from families.
In the park, be sure to try the popovers at Jordan Pond House Restaurant, visit Thunder Hole, and see the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain! On either leg of the trip, stop at Red’s Eats in Wiscasset for one of their famous lobster rolls. Kath at Family Travels USA
Boston, Massachusetts to Stowe, Vermont
One of our family’s absolute favorite weekend or school break road trips is traveling from Boston, Massachusetts to Stowe, Vermont. The ride is about four hours door to door, but if you make a few stops along the way, it will take longer. Though we are usually driving this route during fall foliage or ski season on our way to either Stowe or Smuggler’s Notch ski resorts, there is quite a lot to see and do along the way any time of year.
Depending on which route you take, a stop in Woodstock, Vermont is always worth a visit. This quintessential Vermont town has plenty of restaurants and shops, not to mention a covered bridge. Woodstock is also home to Billings Farm and Museum, and if you visit in September or October, the farm often has fall festivals and “pick your own” apples and pumpkins for enjoying.
Woodstock also has many bed and breakfasts, so you could spend a night in this area in one of those. For an absolutely stunning place to stay, the Woodstock Inn fits this bill.
Also in this area is Quechee Gorge, which is well worth a visit. Just about a one-mile walk down, this breathtaking stop is beautiful, especially in the summer and fall months when the leaves are most colorful. Nearby is also a wonderful restaurant called the Public House Diner, which is inside a 1946 Diner Car. Vermonters take great pride in high-quality food, but it is especially known for breakfast and top-notch maple syrup. Be sure and try a classic Vermont breakfast at the Public House Diner.
Continuing on from Woodstock to your final destination to Stowe, be sure to make a pit stop at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont. You will be able to enjoy a short tour and a treat before the last bit of the drive.
Stowe is yet another picturesque, Vermont town. With much to see and do, Stowe is home to the famous Stowe ski resort (where you can stay) as well as Smuggler’s Notch Resort, which is a fantastic place for families all year round.
The ride from Boston to Stowe, Vermont will be beautiful no matter what time of year you travel it, so be sure and take time to enjoy the journey. Keri of Bon Voyage with Kids
Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
A Philadelphia to Pittsburgh road trip is full of opportunities for outdoor fun. Everyone will love the wineries, train rides, Amish country, great food, and chocolate! Driving from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is about 5 hours, and I suggest you take 5-7 days to enjoy all the stops.
From Philly, your first stop is Lancaster County where you can visit The Amish Village and ride the Strasburg Railroad. Next, drive to the Hershey-Harrisburg area for… chocolate! Check out Hersheypark, Chocolate World, MeltSpa, or one of the many wineries in the area such as Spring Gate Vineyards that has outdoor spaces and kid-friendly events.
Hershey-Harrisburg has amazing restaurants. I recommend Harvest at The Hotel Hershey, Char’s at Tracy Mansion, and Bricco in downtown Harrisburg. Definitely book a stay at The Hotel Hershey or Hershey Lodge and enjoy their chocolate-themed accommodations.
Next it’s time to rest and rejuvenate in the Raystown Lake region, a well known summer playground. It’s home to Jack’s Narrows, the deepest gorge in Pennsylvania, as well as the Thousand Steps. Stay at the Edgewater Inn for a cozy B&B experience with lovely grounds, river views and an on-site restaurant.
If your group is larger, consider one of the private rental homes in the region. There are several places to stay with wide-open spaces and beautiful outdoor experiences with your closest family and friends.
Finally, finish your road trip just outside of Pittsburgh at the magical and uplifting Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Shannon of The TV Traveler
Washington DC to Williamsburg, Virginia to Outer Banks, North Carolina
Looking for a week-long family vacation on the east coast? Your family will love getting up close and personal with our nation’s history with an American road trip from Washington DC to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a stop in Williamsburg along the way!
Spend your first two days in Washington DC. Make sure to visit the world-renowned Smithsonian Museums, the National Monuments, and Washington Zoo. Hungry? Be sure to try Founding Farmers.
Next, head two and half hours south and step back in time into the country’s largest living history museum. Over two days here, visit Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, and the Yorktown Battlefield. History not your thing? Check out Busch Gardens or Water Country USA. King’s Creek Plantation is a great family friendly choice when looking for a place to stay.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
Finally finish up your week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Options are endless from surfing to paddle boarding to mini golf. More must dos include Jockey’s Ridge, the Wright Brothers Memorial, and lighthouse hunting. While many vacation rentals in the Outer Banks, great hotel options are the Hilton Garden Inn or the Sanderling Resort. There are truly so many fun family friendly things to do in the Outer Banks. Julie at More Than Main Street
Midwest Road Trips
Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati, Ohio road trip
An Ohio road trip is one of the best vacations for families. Starting in Cleveland, on the shore of Lake Erie, the Residence Inn Cleveland Downtown is in a great location with loads of space. Visit the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and spend a day at Edgewater Beach. Grab a bite to eat at the historic West Side Market, where people have gathered for more than 100 years.
From Cleveland, head south for two hours on I-71 to Columbus. If time allows, stop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton along the way.
In Columbus, look for hotel packages that include tickets to preferred attractions. Explore Downtown’s Scioto Mile, named for the river that runs through the city. Spend a day at COSI — an amazing hands-on science museum (allow a whole day) or visit the animals at Jack Hanna’s Columbus Zoo. Zoombezi Bay, a waterpark, is next door. For a great meal, head to Schmidt’s in German Village or grab pizza at the local chain, Donato’s.
After a few days in Columbus, drive another 90 minutes south to Cincinnati, Ohio’s historic hub. A stay at The Cincinnatian is perfect for location and historic charm. The city is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Kings Island Theme Park. While in Cincinnati, try the local specialty, Skyline Chili, and save room for dessert at Graeter’s Ice Cream, a local favorite since 1870. Karen of Family Travels on a Budget
Dallas to Oklahoma City
Half way between Dallas and OKC is the town of Sulphur. Here you can learn more about Native American culture at the Chickasaw Cultural Center, go hiking and see a herd of bison at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, or see the state’s largest waterfall at Turner Falls. If you are hungry, the Rusty Nail Winery and Bistro serves up great food and wine for the adults. Another great place to eat is at the cultural center where you can find authentic Chickasaw foods like Indian tacos and grape dumplings.
Any action figure fan will want to stop in Pauls Valley to visit the Toy and Action Figure Museum. There’s a large collections of toys from past decades and a larger than life diorama of action figures. There’s a children’s play area here as well. If you are hungry, stop into Bob’s Pig Shop for a barbecue sandwich and cinnamon ice cream for dessert.
Make a stop in Lexington, OK to visit the Canadian River Winery. Here you can tour the vineyards every day at 2pm. Afterwards head to Norman and the University of Oklahoma campus to visit the free Sam Noble Museum of Art or head into Oklahoma City to visit the Museum of Osteology. This is the only museum of its kind dedicated entirely to skeletons.
Once in Oklahoma City, visit the Bricktown Entertainment District, take a moment to reflect at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, see the animals at the Oklahoma City Zoo, take in a professional sports game downtown, or dive into the food and art scene. Possibilities are endless for fun in OKC. While in the city, try an onion burger at Bunny’s or Tucker’s, grab a slice of pie at Pie Junkie, or enjoy brunch at Cafe Kacao or Syrup.
There are plenty of hotels in Oklahoma City to choose from. If you want to stay somewhere out of the ordinary, here are a few suggestions. 21c Museum and Hotel Oklahoma City is an eclectic hotel in the historic Ford Assembly Plant building. The hotel has a large contemporary art collection that is free to the public. It’s like spending like the night at the museum. Another option is Orr Family Farm’s Glamping Experience. Here you can spend the night in a canvas covered Conestoga Wagons that circle the campfire. Each is equipped with A/C and heat. Nicky at Little Family Adventure
Omaha, Nebraska to Rapid City, South Dakota
South Dakota is one road-trip worthy state you will definitely want to explore with your family. I recommend at least four days to explore the state, but there are so many options, you can stay a lot longer.
De Smet, Nebraska
From Omaha, it’s an easy four-hour drive north to De Smet. Here, explore the Ingalls Homestead, the Surveyor’s House, the town house Pa built for Ma and so much more. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this stop to learn more about America’s favorite pioneer girl. If you start early in the morning, you can head out to Badlands by early afternoon, but I recommend glamping overnight in a covered wagon at the Ingalls Homestead.
Badlands National Park
It’s another four drive west from De Smet to Badlands National Park. If you’re westbound on I-90, take Exit 131, and explore the 31-mile Wildlife Loop, one of the most scenic drives in the United States. Make sure to get your free water and a bite to eat at the famous Wall Drug Store before heading on to Rapid City.
Another quick hour drive to Rapid City, you’ll be primed to explore Custer State Park, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and more. Featuring stunning drives, herds of bison and prairie dogs, Native America history and more, you will want to spend several days in the Black Hills area of South Dakota. Michelle of Simplify Live Love
Chicago to Nashville
One of our favorite road trips from Chicago is driving to Nashville through Louisville. The drive is easy and there’s beautiful scenery along the way. It’s about seven hours one way, so it is possible to complete the drive in a day, but if you want to overnight, Louisville is a great stop.
In Louisville, there are a few attractions kids will love. Our kids always enjoyed the Louisville Slugger baseball museum with its tour and interactive games. Other fun activities include the hands-on Kentucky Science Center, the Kentucky Derby museum, and Louisville Mega Cavern. Stop by the Brown Hotel and be sure to try Louisville’s famous Hot Brown sandwich, created here in 1926.
Upon arrival in Nashville, head straight for Broadway in Nashville’s downtown, home to the city’s honky tonk bars, kitschy shops, and the first combination candy bar, the Goo Goo Cluster. Music lovers won’t want to miss the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium, the Johnny Cash Museum, and the Grand Ole Opry.
If music isn’t your thing, be sure to check out the Nashville Zoo, Centennial Park, Adventure Science Center, and Cheekwood Botanical Garden. There are so many things to do in Nashville with kids, we know you won’t be disappointed! Kirsten
Southern Road Trips
Alabama Road Trip
Alabama is a great state for a road trip in the Unites States because there is so much to see and do in this one state. If you start from northern Alabama and drive south, then your last destination will be the beautiful beaches of Gulf Shores.
Visit Huntsville Alabama for the numbers 1 and 3 tourist destinations in Alabama – the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and the Huntsville Botanical Center. The NASA rocket center has a great museum about the US space program as well as summer camps for children interested in science and aviation. We stayed in several Huntsville hotels over the course of the two weeks while our son was in summer camp.
Only two hours from Huntsville, the next stop is the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham Zoo is the second most visited tourist attraction in Alabama. You can also take a tour of places made famous by the Civil Rights movement of the late 1960s, such as the Birmingham Civil Rights institute and Kelly Ingram Park.
Another two hour drive from Birmingham will take you to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital. There’s more Civil Rights places to explore such as the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin Luther King’s former church, and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, dedicated to the thousands of African Americans who were the victims of lynchings. The old F. Scott Fitzgerald home is now a museum as well as an AirBnB where you can stay.
Mobile and Gulf Shores
The final three hours of this Alabama drive takes you to Mobile in coastal Alabama. Mobile would like you to know they invented Mardi Gras and that New Orleans only made it famous. Mobile has a thriving restaurant scene as well as lots of historical places to visit.
Just a couple of hours further along from Mobile, you will find the beautiful wide sand beaches of the Gulf Shores, perfect for relaxation. Shobha of Just Go Places
Dallas, Texas to South Walton, Florida via New Orleans
The road trip from Dallas to South Walton is long, about 12 hours but so worth the drive. Once you arrive at the Emerald beaches of the Gulf coast you will understand why!
New Orleans, Louisiana
To break up the long drive, stop for some chocolatey chicory coffee and beignets in New Orleans, listen to some Jazz, enjoy the lively streets and indulge in the food scene that has flavors of French, African and American cultures. Visit the Mardi Gras Museum to admire the carnival costumes and parades floats.
South Walton, Florida
South Walton is home to many small beach communities affectionately called the beaches of 30A. It is popular with families who have beach homes here or visit on a regular basis. If you are looking for a family-friendly beaches with sugar-white sand and calm emerald waters that make you feel like you are in the Caribbean, South Walton is just the place. There are 26 miles of beautiful beaches in South Walton, Florida. Priya from Outside Suburbia
Don’t miss these fantastic Florida road trips too!
Orlando, Florida to Savannah, Georgia
An Orlando to Savannah road trip is a fantastic vacation for families with so much to see and do along the way. Start with the big thrills of the theme parks in Orlando before heading north to the lesser explored corners of Florida.
Stop in New Smyrna Beach for some old school American fun with salt water taffy, a beautiful beach and wild dolphins in the river. Head further up the coastline and in to Georgia to the beautiful Jekyll Island. Cycle through clouds of sea moss to picturesque beaches that feel as though you’re the only person to have ever set foot on them. Kids will love climbing over the trees on Driftwood Beach. Stay at the Jekyll Island Club which is like stepping back in time.
Next stop is St Simons Island which is busier and with more amenities. Kids will love like the fantastic playground that spills out on to the sand. Stay at the King and Prince to enjoy the pools and recreational facilities here.
Finish up with some city culture in beautiful Savannah where you can take horse drawn carriage tours through the city. It’s a fun way to visit some great museums and enjoy the parks and fantastic restaurant scene. Nichola of Globalmouse Travels
Orlando, Florida to Florida Keys
Orlando to the Keys: A Florida-Style Summer Road Trip
Florida is the perfect location to take a road trip with your family! While most people only think of the beach or theme parks when visiting Florida, there are multiple things to do and places to visit (including the beach) during a road trip through Florida.
Orlando is a great location to start your road trip. It is centrally located and has two convenient airports to choose from if you’re flying in from out of town.
While Orlando is arguably the theme park capital of the world, it is merely the starting point as you head out on your journey south, but if you want to take in the sites for a day or two, there are endless options for family fun.
Orlando to Merritt Island
The first stop on your trip is the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida. The drive from Orlando to Merritt Island is an easy one, and you should arrive at your destination in under an hour. The Kennedy Space Center is one of the most underrated attractions in Florida. The complex is filled with fun and educational activities and provides hours of entertainment for children and adults of all ages.
Merritt Island to Jupiter
After visiting the Kennedy Space Center, it’s time to head south. The Jupiter Beach Resort in Jupiter, Florida, is just two hours from Cape Canaveral and is the perfect location to stop for the night.
Just before reaching Jupiter, it’s time for a quick (or not-so-quick) stop for dinner in the idyllic beach town of Hobe Sound, Florida. The Grove Pizza Cucina and Wine Bar is the perfect location for dinner and drinks. (Ok, I’m biased, my husband Luis & I own the restaurant!) We will treat you like family and will make sure you are filled to the brim with delicious Italian food, and after ten years as a family travel blogger, we can talk plenty of travels!
Once dinner is done, head to the Jupiter Beach Resort and enjoy a comfortable and luxurious retreat for the night.
Jupiter to the Florida Keys
Once you are refreshed from your overnight stay in Jupiter, it’s time to head even further south to the final stop of your road trip to Florida Keys. The drive takes approximately four hours, but it will take longer if you make stops along the way.
You will end your journey at one of the Keys’ newest accommodations – the Petite Retreats Sunshine Key Tiny House Village. The village is just south of the Seven Mile Bridge on the shore of the 75-acre island of Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina near Big Pine Key. It features brightly colored tiny houses that are the perfect size for a family. The Tiny House Village is just 50 minutes north of Key West and offers the perfect location to explore all the Florida Keys have to offer. Jen Reyneri of www.WordTraveling.com
Southwest Road Trip Ideas
Albuquerque, New Mexico to Big Bend National Park to Austin, Texas
For families looking for an amazing road trip in the United States, there’s no better region than the Southwest. To get a fantastic taste of the area, you can fly into Albuquerque and out of Austin – but take the slow route by way of stunning Big Bend National Park.
The total drive is a little over 1100 miles and will take you about 18 hours. Though you could rush through the drive, I recommend doing this trip over at least 10 days (and preferably more). You’ll have three full driving days: Albuquerque to Las Cruces, Las Cruces to Big Bend National Park, and finally Big Bend to Austin.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
You’ll want to spend at least two days in Albuquerque – one day to visit Petroglyph National Monument and another to explore ABQ BioPark, and a second to day trip to Santa Fe. On your third day, get an early start and drive down to White Sands National Park. You’ll spend the afternoon sledding down the worlds largest gypsum sand dunes! Stay the night in Alamogordo, the funky little town closest to the park’s entrance.
Day four is a long driving day from Alamogordo to Big Bend National Park deep in West Texas on the border with Mexico. How much time you spend at Big Bend is up to you – I’d stay for a minimum of two full days, but you could easily keep busy at Big Bend for up to a week exploring its diverse ecosystems.
Assuming you spend three full days at Big Bend, on the eighth morning of your trip you’ll head out on the eight hour drive to Austin, your final destination. If you only have ten days for your trip, that’ll still give you two days to enjoy what Austin has to offer – great barbecue, live music, strolling on South Congress Street and more! Melissa of The Family Voyage
Road Trip West USA
Phoenix, Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park to Park City, Utah
In the summer, most Arizona residents are looking for vacations north of Phoenix so they can escape the heat. Why not take a car ride from Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park? Get an early start to avoid the day’s heat, and you can reach the visitor center in about 3.5 hours.
About two hours into the trip, stop in Flagstaff, and grab lunch or charcuterie supplies at Proper Meats and Provisions, before heading to the park. Plan on spending a few hours exploring the Grand Canyon from the South Rim, and be sure to bring a carrier for small children as the hiking trails are quite narrow. Get back in the car and head north another four hours until you reach Kanab, your home for the night.
Kanab is only a half hour from Zion National Park, if you want to extend your trip and stay a couple of days here. Grab a bite to eat at Escobar’s Mexican restaurant, and rest your head at Quail Park Lodge or one of these other places to stay near Zion National Park.
Park City is only five hours driving from Kanab, and it offers a ton of activities for families. This is home to Utah Olympic Park (built for the 2002 Winter Olympics) where kids can zip line, ride on an alpine slide, and even try their hand at a ropes course. Be sure to make time for the Olympic Ski Museum, where you can even watch Olympic hopefuls practice their jumps into swimming pools. When everyone is ready to eat, head to historic Main Street and grab a bite at Wasatch Brew Pub with some Java Cow ice cream for dessert.
Other fun Park City events include Concerts at the Canyons, a weekly farmers market, fishing, golfing, fly fishing, and river rafting. Stay at the Hyatt Centric resort, and you can enjoy all of its amenities and be close to all of the Park City action. Kirsten
The California coast is an ideal place for a family road trip. It is filled with tremendous diversity, incredible, tremendous scenery, and so many things to do! This 10-day California road trip begins in San Francisco, a city filled with amazing food, museums, and scenery. Then it heads south to Monterey, home of the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and ample opportunities to spot sea otters, seals, and whales.
Jaw-dropping scenery awaits as your family heads further south along the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur, known for breathtaking views of rugged and remote coastline. The next stop is Santa Barbara, known as the American Riviera. This charming city is a great place to enjoy a beach day or sip some wine at local tasting rooms.
Further south is Los Angeles and Orange County where beaches, Hollywood, and Disneyland await. Finally, this 10-day California itinerary ends in San Diego, where your family ends your vacation with more beach time, along with a visit to a world-class zoo. Sharlene of Trekaroo
Palm Springs, California to Death Valley to Las Vegas, Nevada
This seven-hour road trip has it all – relaxation, adventure, and 24/7 entertainment. Begin in Palm Springs, a California desert oasis full of gourmet food, boutique shopping, and quirky-quant charm. Chill by the pool and then zip up The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, to the picturesque Chino Canyon cliffs and take a nature walk in Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Time your visit to coincide with many festivals. Lulu California Bistro was a tasty hit with our whole family.
Death Valley, Nevada
Drive a few hours from Palm Springs to Death Valley, Nevada’s national park, and other-worldly paradise. From hiking the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, to carefully navigating Devil’s Golf Course, an expanse of jagged spires of rock salt, to exploring the Dali-esque Badwater Salt Flats 282 feet below sea-level – this park is packed full of adventure and beauty. Book in advance at one of Death Valley’s lodging options. With few restaurants in the park, it’s a good idea to pack some food in a cooler since the options are miles apart!
Finally drive a few more hours to glitz of the Las Vegas strip! Pick a hotel with a fabulous pool and wander the strip – take a gondola ride at Venetian, stand in a pyramid at Luxor, and ride a sky-high roller-coaster at New York, New York! Family-friendly entertainment abounds – our favorites were Cirque du Soleil productions and magic shows. Lisa of Hilton Suggests
Utah National Parks Road Trip
If you are looking for a road trip that packs in a lot of National Parks, then Utah is an absolute must visit. With five National Parks all within a few hours of each other, and endless adventure in Utah, this is one of the best family road trips in the United States.
Starting in Canyonlands, you’ll want to make sure to visit Island in the Sky. On your way out, make sure to stop at Deadhorse Point for some of the best views around.
Make your way down into the town of Moab and then head a few miles north to Arches National Park. Be sure to sign up for a canyoneering trip if you’re feeling adventurous, or take a float down the Colorado River if you’re there during the summer heat.
After leaving Arches, you’ll head toward Capitol Reef National Park, but make sure to spend a day in Goblin Valley first (it’s the coolest place ever, and you’ll feel like you’re on another planet). Capitol Reef can be visited in just one day, and then you should make your way over to Bryce Canyon.
Bryce is at a higher elevation, so it’s the coolest of the five parks, so make sure to bring warmer clothes while you’re there. From Bryce Canyon, head south and go to the east entrance of Zion National Park. While you’re there, make sure to cool off in the Pine Creek pools, and also to bike along the river up towards the Narrows.
Honestly, there is no shortage of adventures to do along the Utah National Parks loop, just come prepared for the heat in the summer, and lots of sand all year round! Jessica of Bring the Kids
Grand Teton to Yellowstone to Glacier National Park Road Trip
There are many great road trips in Montana, but one of my favorites starts in Wyoming. I recommend taking at least ten days to explore three national parks: Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier. You can drive to the parks, or fly and rent a car. If flying, Salt Lake City is the easiest and least expensive reach. Idaho Falls, Idaho or Jackson, Wyoming will put you closer to Grand Teton.
If you want to stay inside the park, book your lodging as far out as possible. Be sure to make dinner reservations in the park dining rooms at the same time. In all three parks, start at a visitor center to get your bearings and junior ranger information (if your kids – or you! – want to participate).
In Grand Teton, don’t miss: Jenny Lake and the boat ride to the Hidden Falls Trail, a beverage on the deck at Dornan’s, and driving the 42-mile scenic loop through the park with stops at the lookouts.
In Yellowstone, don’t miss: Old Faithful Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin, Norris Geyser Basin, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Mammoth Hot Springs. Either stay inside the park or in West Yellowstone for the best access.
In Glacier, don’t miss: Many Glacier, St. Mary, Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Apgar Village. Tip: spend the first couple nights on the east side and then move to the west side to minimize driving and see as much as possible. Mel from TravelingMel and YellowstoneTrips
The Oregon coast is a perfect place for a road trip! The rugged beauty of the coast and beaches filled with driftwood and haystack rock formations is amazing.
There are state parks to explore that are filled with tide pools and hiking trails. Plus some of the best breweries in the country!
We also enjoyed a wild jet boat ride, crabbing (we even caught a few and cooked them for dinner), cheese sampling and exploring where Goonies was filmed.
We broke our road trip into the southern coast, middle coast and northern coast. You can move quickly and cover it all in a week or take an extended 2-3 week trip and really explore each stop! Bryanna of Crazy Family Adventure
Southwest Colorado Road Trip
This loop tour deserves seven to ten days and begins from Colorado Springs. Along the way you’ll find hot springs destinations, three very different national parks, and “Switzerland of America.” Grab your hiking shoes, swimsuit, and sunglasses for this southwest Colorado road trip through the San Juan mountain range.
Starting from Colorado Springs, head toward Great Sand Dunes National Park and try the following:
- Sand-sled in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Stay at the Great Sand Dunes Lodge for proximity to the park and renting sand sleds and boards. Or camp in Zapata Falls or Piñon Flats campgrounds.
- Eat at South Fork Malt Shoppe on your way to Pagosa Springs. Soak and stay at The Springs Resort and Spa.
- Zip down the alpine slide in Durango or ride the train to Silverton before heading on to Cortez for Mesa Verde.
- Climb ladders through Ancient Pueblo dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. Eat at Thai Cortez and Sushi. Stay at the Retro Inn at Mesa Verde in Cortez the night before your next day’s reserved ranger-led tours of Balcony and Cliff House.
- Ride the free gondola down into Telluride, nestled in a box canyon with Bridal Veil Falls at the canyon’s head. Do this as a day trip from camping spot in Ouray, or splurge at The Peaks Resort. Eat at Brown Dog Pizza or Smuggler-Union Brewery.
- Slip through Ridgway on your way into Ouray, dubbed Switzerland of America. Hike to powerful waterfalls or rent a Jeep for Imogene Pass. Camp in Amphitheater Campground or stay at the Ouray RV Park & Cabins: deluxe and rustic riverfront cabins within walking distance of downtown and Ouray Hot Springs Pool. Eat at the Colorado Boy Southwest Pub.
- Skim the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park for a couple of hours, then head to Crested Butte.
- Downhill mountain bike in Crested Butte or hike around a lake. Crash at the Elevation Hotel & Spa or find dispersed camping along Keblar Pass. Grab pizza in town at the Brick Oven Pizzeria & Pub.
- Indulge in Buena Viking food truck burgers and Noah’s Ark whitewater rafting in Buena Vista. Stay and soak at the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.
This drive through southwest Colorado is a roller coaster of a ride through breath-taking mountain passes filled with fabulous Colorado wildflowers and vistas. Tanya at Rad Family Travel