Knowing the best family-friendly road trip destinations is so important when planning your next vacation! From the western mountains to the eastern seacoast, there are a plethora of locations that will create lasting memories for your family. Here is a breakdown of some of the best U.S. road trip destinations for families!
1. Rocky Mountain National Park
If you are looking for an active trip for your family, Rocky Mountain National Park is a great road trip destination! During your visit, we recommend staying in a rental house close to the park and driving into the park each day. If you plan to visit this national park, you will need to buy a national park pass. This pass is only $80, and it will get you into any national park in the country for a year! You should also grab a park map at the entrance to plan your exploration accordingly.
While you are in the park, you will encounter roaming wildlife, varying terrain, and breathtaking views. You may want to stick to hikes that weave around picturesque lakes if you have young kids. There are usually several picnic tables along these trails, so you can pack a lunch and explore for the whole day!
The park map will rate trails according to their level of difficulty. Because of the change in altitude, you will want to start with easier trails and work your way up. The views at the end of the trails are worth the aching muscles and burning lungs! Rocky Mountain National Park is home to a variety of lakes, mountains, and animals, which makes it an altogether unforgettable road trip destination!
2. Traverse City, Michigan
As the nation’s leading producer of tart cherries, Michigan provides a landscape that is appealing for the whole family! Traverse City hosts an annual National Cherry Festival every July, featuring a wide variety of jams, pastries, and souvenirs. If you are a cherry fanatic, this is the place to be during the summer!
If you are traveling to Traverse City from the south, consider taking a detour in Holland, Michigan. Famous for its Dutch heritage, Holland is a slice of Europe in America! Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by tulips, windmills, and colorful shops. If you visit during early May, you might catch the Tulip Festival, which features authentic Dutch food, iconic wooden clogs, fireworks, parades, and more! The northwestern area of Michigan is a road trip destination that is guaranteed to capture the attention of the whole family!
3. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Gulf Shores is a wonderful road trip destination if you are looking for a relaxing family trip. The city is small, but it is a great place to develop family bonds. If you are planning on spending several days at the beach, we recommend renting a beach tent and chairs. The tent shields you from the scorching sun, while the chairs provide the perfect place to take a nap or read a book. If you are vacationing with a large group, you might want to rent a volleyball net and bodyboards for some active competition!
For off-beach activities, we recommend getting ice cream at Frostbites and listening to the live music performed by local artists! There are also a few tourist shops that are a short drive from the beach where you can purchase souvenirs to commemorate your trip!
4. The Four Corners
Located at the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, The Four Corners is a great road trip destination for active families! If you stay close to the border of these states, you can easily cross from state to state for various activities! All four states provide a variety of hiking and sightseeing options. If you purchase a national parks pass, you will be able to explore several national parks nearby.
If you choose to travel out west, make sure that you drink plenty of water and pack high-protein snacks! It can be easy to get dehydrated in dryer climates or get altitude sickness as you journey between mountains and canyons. We recommend buying CamelBaks, which are backpacks that contain a bladder for water and pockets for your snacks. Also, make sure to layer up on your clothes! Depending on the time of year, you may see as much as a 30-degree daily difference in temperature. As long as you come prepared, this road trip destination will be memorable for the whole family!
5. Washington, D.C.
Since D.C. is the capital of our nation, everyone should visit it at least once in their lifetime. The variety of attractions provided by the city makes it a versatile destination for families. From zoos and gardens to restaurants and museums, families are guaranteed to have a memorable and educational road trip!
Families with young kids will want to explore the Smithsonian National Zoo, Beauvoir Outdoors Playground, or The Yards Park. Each of these attractions provides plenty of opportunities for kids to hike, climb, and swim. Families with older kids will enjoy these activities too, but they may opt for visiting museums and national landmarks. The White House is an obvious must-see, along with presidential memorials, the National Mall, and the Capitol building. The Museum of the Bible and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History are other popular attractions. Whatever landmarks you choose to explore, your family is guaranteed to leave this trip with a deeper appreciation for our country’s history.
6. In Summary
Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation or a rigorous trip, the United States has plenty of destinations for you and your family to enjoy! The most important thing to keep in mind when planning your next road trip is to do your research on your destination. Spontaneity can be a great thing on a trip, but when you are traveling with a family it is helpful to have a general idea of your itinerary. This keeps everyone engaged and excited about the destination! Don’t forget to be fully present with your family, because these trips are the ones that your kids will remember long after they have moved out of the house!