American comedian Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation,” and with family road trips, you get the best of both worlds- laughter and vacation. We focus so much money and time on giving our family “the best vacation ever,” but really, all our family wants is to experience an adventure together. They don’t necessarily remember all of the vacation plans, but they always remember the time spent together as a family.
Miles and Miles of Memories: Family Road Trip Fun
Often, we spend so much time planning the vacation that we forget the journey is part of the vacation too. Instead of remembering how many stars the hotel had, children remember how fun it was to have a sing-along with the entire family in the car. Instead of remembering how many souvenirs they purchased, they remember how everyone couldn’t stop laughing when little Susie’s bubblegum bubble popped all over her face. It’s the little moments that have the biggest impact.
In the United States, the opportunities are endless for road trips. Do I want this trip to be educational or relaxing? Do I want to travel to the beach? Do I want to travel up the East Coast? Do I want to travel somewhere new or places I have been before? We have so many possibilities! You can string a few cities together, or you can divide and conquer several different geographical areas. One of the beauties about road trips is that the plans are all up to you. You can eliminate stops you don’t think will interest your family, and you can visit as many cities as your plans allow. The schedule is completely up to you!
Proud to be an American Tour (7.5 hours)
With Boston and Philadelphia focused on America’s early years and Washington D.C. on present-day America, a historical road trip of the Northeast is perfect to teach your family about America’s history. In Boston, MA, your family will be fascinated with The Mayflower by visiting Plymouth Rock and observing colonial life at Plimoth Plantation. Freedom Trail is a wonderful tour with over 16 historical sites including Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church, and the Black History Trail is full of sites that played a role in ending slavery. For literary lovers, you should visit the homes of Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Salem, MA, where The Crucible is based. Making your way down to Philadelphia, PA, the history continues. By visiting the Liberty Bell Center and the Betsy Ross House, your family will learn about key symbols of America’s freedom. Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center will be insightful in helping your children understand about America’s founding fathers, and you certainly can’t come to the City of Brotherly Love without channeling your inner Rocky and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Washington D.C. has a great blend of past and present America. You can visit homes of American greats including Frederick Douglass, Robert E. Lee, President Abraham Lincoln, and President George Washington. A highlight of any D.C. trip is the National Mall which has the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Smithsonian, U.S. Capitol, and of course, the White House. You should also consider visiting the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery.
The Heart of Music Tour (8 hours)
From country sounds to the blues to jazz music, the Southeast has everything you need to have a music tour of the United States. Starting in Nashville, TN, also known as “Music City, USA,” country music is everything. You can enjoy a night listening to country greats at the Grand Ole Opry and take in the music of up-and-coming artists at the Bluebird Café and the Listening Room Café. The Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum and a tour of the Ryman Auditorium will give you plenty of insight on all music legends. Nashville also has plenty of shopping, and your family will enjoy time at the Adventure Science Center and the Opryland Hotel. Stopping in Memphis, TN, you will need to eat some delicious BBQ, and then you must make a day of all things Elvis including visiting Sun Studio and Graceland. Memphis has several musical museums including the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum. Your family will love visiting the Memphis Zoo and the National Civil Rights Museum, and your children will enjoy visiting the Peabody Hotel to see the lobby ducks. New Orleans, LA, is certainly a city that pulls out all the stops for entertaining. You can walk up and down Fenchmen Street and listen to jazz musicians, and you can ride the streetcars to observe more of this lively city. NOLA has many family attractions including Mardi Gras World, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and the National World War II Museum. Of course you cannot visit “The Big Easy” without eating beignets at Café du Monde.
Bright Lights, Beautiful Views Tour (8 Hours)
From the bright lights of Las Vegas to the sweeping views of the Grand Canyon, this road trip is perfect for the active family. Starting in Las Vegas, NV, your family will be able to enjoy activities at Circus Circus’ Adventuredome and the Discovery Children’s Museum. For your sweet tooth, visits to M&M’s World and the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens will surely do the trick. Your children will be dazzled by the Mirage Volcano and Bellagio Fountains, and a trip to the Hoover Dam will leave your family impressed. In the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, your family will be amazed by the breathtaking views. You should visit the exhibits at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, and if you are interested in hiking, the Rim Trail is extremely family-friendly. To teach your children about the history of the Grand Canyon, you should stop by the Tusayan Museum and Yavapai Geology Museum. By driving on Desert View Drive, you’ll be able to follow the sweeping views for over 25 miles. Rounding out your western tour, a stop in Flagstaff, AZ, is ideal. Your family will love exploring Lava River Cave and Grand Falls. For those interested in astronomy, a trip to Lowell Observatory and Meteor Crater will be wonderful for them, and your family will enjoy visiting the San Francisco Peaks and Arizona Snowbowl. Finishing in Second Mesa, AZ, your family will be able to observe the Native American culture from the Hopi tribe. You can visit the Hopi Cultural Center where you can take a tour of the Walpi village and purchase authentic crafts from local artisans.
Sunshine and warm weather…doesn’t a road trip in California sound wonderful? While in San Francisco, CA, your family will enjoy riding cable cars around the city, and of course, you’ll have to stop by famous San Fran landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies Houses, and Lombard Street for photo ops. Children will especially love visiting attractions like the Jelly Bean Factory and Walt Disney Family Museum, and the entire family will enjoy walking around Chinatown. For adventure lovers, a trip to Alcatraz Island will certainly be a highlight. In Los Angeles, CA, you will have to be on the lookout for celebrities while taking in the sights. Your family can observe the legendary Hollywood attractions by visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TCL Chinese Theatre, and posing in front of the Hollywood sign. For entertainment, your children will love spending time at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, and even the Santa Monica Pier. Hiking in the Runyon Canyon Park would be a wonderful family event to stretch your legs. A trip to Los Angeles is not complete without visiting the Getty Museum and Hollywood Wax Museum, and you can always add a stop at Leo Carrillo State Beach, Manhattan Beach, or Newport Beach. Rounding out this road trip in San Diego, CA, your family will be excited to visit Legoland and SeaWorld San Diego. For those who enjoy spending time outside, trips to the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park are a must. We can’t forget about our aviation lovers who will enjoy seeing the San Diego Air and Space Museum and the USS Midway.
Shop ‘til You Drop Tour (6.5 hours)
A trip planned with shopping at some of the best shopping centers in the country…who doesn’t already have their bags packed? Starting in Minneapolis, MN, the Mall of America is the place to be, and with over 520 stores and 50 restaurants, it has something for everyone. Your family will enjoy visiting Nickelodeon Universe®, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium®, American Girl®, LEGO®, Star Trek™: The Exhibition, and the Barbie™ Dreamhouse Experience™, all from the comfort of the mall. Once you finish the Mall of America adventure, you should visit the Minneapolis Zoo, Walker Art Center, and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Madison, WI, is a great place to break up the road trip with attractions like the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Madison Children’s Museum, and Allen Centennial Gardens. Madison also has its fair share of shopping with 4 malls and an outlet mall in the area. Finishing in Chicago, IL, the Windy City is full of shopping and attractions the entire family will enjoy. The Magnificent Mile has every type of store you can imagine, and it also has several different spas for your relaxation. You can expose your family to culture with the Chicago’s theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Art Institute of Chicago and history with the Chicago Sports Museum and Chicago History Museum. Your family will love visiting events at both Millennium Park and Navy Pier. Of course, you can’t travel to Chicago without taking your picture in front of Cloud Gate and on the Skydeck of the Willis Tower.
When you are planning your next vacation, consider taking a road trip because you can adapt your vacation to fit your family’s schedule and interests. Your family will also have the opportunity to spend more time together and experience laughs and memories that will last a lifetime.
Valerie handles media relations for Caliber Collision, and in her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and playing with her puppy. Some of her favorites include Taylor Swift, Coke Zero, and The Good Wife, and she enjoys living life to the fullest but also making time to enjoy the simple things. You can connect with her at @SEOValerie.