The family road trip is an age old tradition and one of the best ways for families to get away from their routine and bond. What the best road trip is for your family will depend a lot on what your family enjoys doing as well as the amount of time you have to dedicate to your travels. How old your children are will also play into where you decide to go. The good thing is that great road trips can be done in a weekend with a very modest budget so there really is no reason not to get out there and create new family memories. There are also so many stunning choices you can easily take an extended family vacation to some of these destinations. Here we will look at some of the best family road trip ideas that will inspire you to get pack and see some new sites.
The Weekend Getaway. One of the best family road trips is the weekend family getaway. The great thing about these trips is that they are confined to be done within the 3 days. The short time frame forces you to keep the travel short, allowing you to focus on the family time which is the point of the trip. You also generally choose a destination that does not require as much driving, which is beneficial especially for little kids.
To get the most of these road trips, choose a place that you can get to in 5 hours or less and has either one attraction you’d like to visit, or a campground that can provide everything you need for the weekend. In most cases, a resort style RV park with a pool, playgrounds and other activities is more than enough for a great weekend road trip.
Here are a couple examples:
Bethpage RV resort in Urbana, VA. Located within an easy day trip from Washington, DC or Richmond, VA this huge park is remote enough to feel like you’ve gotten away from it all. It also has an onsite water park and mini-golf for the kids as well as a lake, a beach and other amenities. It is also located on the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay with onsite docks where you can crab or launch a boat, jet ski or start a paddling adventure. In the fall, it makes a great basecamp for the Urbana Oyster Festival.
Camp Chautauqua, Mayville, NY. This excellent campground is located on Lake Chautauqua in Western New York. This area is an easy day drive from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo. As home of the Chautauqua Institution, the area well known for its laid back culture and excellent art activities. The lake itself offers excellent on water activities and the town of Bemus Point is a great little town for an afternoon walk or family friendly evening out.
There are places like these throughout the US and worldwide. With a little research just about anyone should be able to find great local places for an incredible weekend family road trip. Start with your favorite family activities and build your trip around it.
The National Park Tour. Another great road trip, especially for a nature loving family, is a tour of the US national parks and historic sites. Many of the national parks are clustered together in areas where visiting more than one in a single trip is easily possible. Northwest Wyoming/Montana and Utah are two great examples of this. The Wyoming/Montana area has Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. Utah has the big 5: Arches, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Bryce and Zion. On both cases, you can easily hop from park to park within a single day’s drive. While you could spend weeks at each individual park, for a family trip it’s often better to visit a park for a shorter time. This allows you to get the feel of the park without boredom setting in and tends to be more enjoyable for the family as a whole.
When visiting the national parks make sure you check out their website for money saving discount programs. For families the two most common ones that may benefit you are the Every Kid in a Park program and the Interagency (also known as the “America the Beautiful”) pass. Both passes get your car load into all the parks for no additional charge. The former is free if you have a 4th grader and it expires at the end of August after their 4th grade year. The latter is about $80 and is good for 12 months after your month of purchase (which means 13 months if you buy it the first day of the month).
The Beach Trip. Beaches also make great family road trips. The US has many great beaches stretching along the east, gulf and pacific coasts. The broad range in latitude of US beaches means you can have a great beach trip just about any time of the year. Two of the best beach road trip are St Augustine, FL and Gulf Shores, AL. As the oldest city in the US, St. Augustine is a great destination for history buffs. The old town area is mostly brick pedestrian streets which makes it great for family day out shopping, dining or even ghost hunting. St. Augustine beach is just outside of town, easy to get and very nice. For a nicer, quieter beach experience you can head a few miles south to Crescent Beach.
Gulf Shores, AL is at the heart of the Gulf Coast and offers more touristy attractions and fun activities for the kids. Gulf State Park is one of the best state parks for camping in the US. With over 500 sites, tennis courts, a large pool complex, a nature center, access to miles of beach, a fishing pier and over 25 miles of paved bike trails to explore, it is hard to beat and you may not even want to leave.
Honolulu, HI is one of the more exotic road trip choices because unless you already live in Hawaii, you have to get to the island first. Still as far as epic family road trips, this one tops the list. With endless pristine beaches, warm ocean water, wildlife and adventure, this is a holiday dreams are made of. Picture yourself renting a campervan and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean waves or watching the sunset while you have a picnic on the beach.
Wherever you end up going, you will discover the best part is just being together. The family road trip is one of the best ways to for families to spend time having fun, bonding and making life long memories. Take one of our broad suggestions and tweak it to fit your family, or choose one of the destinations we described. Or, if you are up for a spontaneous adventure, hit the road and see where it leads. Hopefully, these ideas are enough to help you to plan your next family road trip.
Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years and is always looking to find the next hike, off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.