Family-friendly road trips offer families a chance to escape their daily lives and have some fun together. However, they can also prove challenging if families fail to plan ahead or fail to adjust their expectations.
Are you organizing a family trip? Here are some great destinations and tips for an effortless journey.
1. Niagara Falls
Road trips are an excellent way for families to get away and explore nature together. Additionally, they give kids the chance to become comfortable driving and practice any special car rules necessary for a long trip.
When planning a family-friendly road trip, opt for destinations that provide plenty of entertaining activities for everyone to enjoy. Visit a state park to take in the scenery or head out into the mountain ranges for some outdoor adventure.
Once you’ve selected your destination, start to plan out what activities and sights to see there. Doing this helps maximize your time and avoid overspending on attractions that aren’t essential for everyone in the family.
Another important factor when planning your road trip is how much money you have available for each day. To save money, try only including activities that cost less than what is budgeted per day during your vacation.
You can find fun activities for the whole family to do on a budget or free. Some ideas include games in the car, snacks while driving and activities that involve everyone in the group.
Another popular activity is taking a ride on the Whirlpool Aero Car, an elevated cable car that crosses over the gorge directly over the giant whirlpool 240 feet below its roaring rapids. For only $30, you can spend half an hour above this turbulent river!
Yosemite National Park is a must-visit for any family vacation. With hundreds of miles of trails to explore and breathtaking waterfalls, meadows and forests that will surely leave everyone with lasting impressions, this national park will surely leave everyone with unforgettable memories.
Yosemite is one of the world’s most beloved parks, boasting nearly 4 million visitors annually – and for good reason!
Yosemite National Park is home to iconic sights like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan that can only be appreciated from above the valley floor. But there are also plenty of other spots outside the valley that offer equally stunning views.
Families looking for an escape from Yosemite Valley should take a drive up the Eastern section. From Olmsted Point, you’ll have an incredible view and if you’re feeling adventurous, take a short hike to Tenaya Lake for kayaking, swimming or ice skating (in winter).
While in Yosemite National Park, don’t miss a visit to Mariposa Grove and its majestic sequoia trees. These protected trees have been growing for thousands of years and provide some of the most stunning views in all of Yosemite.
If you’re not a fan of hiking, take an open-air tram tour through the grove instead. You can even choose to have a guided tour for an even more immersive experience.
Glacier Point is another popular attraction that offers stunning views of the valley and mountains in the distance. It’s also a favorite spot for photographers, though it can get very busy during peak hours.
3. Rocky Mountains
Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect destination for an epic road trip or a peaceful family retreat. With glacier-carved valleys, rugged tundra, and abundant wildlife such as elk, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bear, this vast wilderness has something to offer everyone.
With so much to see and experience, having an organized itinerary and planning ahead can be beneficial. But don’t be afraid to adjust your plans if something more spectacular than expected arises.
Start your Rocky Mountain road trip in Estes Park, home to both of the park’s main entrances and plenty of family-friendly attractions. With its charming shops, restaurants, and attractions, Estes Park makes a perfect starting point for exploring both the parks themselves as well as their surrounding mountains.
Another fantastic activity for kids of all ages is hiking the numerous trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. With plenty of pristine lakes, easy stroller-friendly routes, and stunning peaks as far as the eye can see, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy nature on your family road trip through Colorado.
One of the best family hikes in RMNP is Sky Pond, an incredible journey through alpine landscapes and some of the park’s most breathtaking vistas. At 9.4 miles with over 1700 feet in elevation gain, this journey promises a challenging but rewarding experience for everyone involved.
In Estes Park, there are plenty of family-friendly hiking trails that will challenge even experienced hikers while providing stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. Popular family trail options include:
4. Mount Rushmore
Traveling is often the perfect excuse for a road trip, especially with kids in tow. Not only does it give you the chance to discover new places together, but it can be an opportunity for quality family time too! Whether you’re searching for an outdoor adventure in the mountains or taking a day trip from home, there are plenty of destinations that make for perfect family-friendly road trips.
One of the most sought-after destinations for families to visit is Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This iconic sculpture showcases four United States presidents and should not be missed when in South Dakota.
However, it’s essential to remember that Mount Rushmore isn’t the only landmark in South Dakota. There are plenty of other natural and historic attractions worth exploring around here as well.
If you’re taking your kids on this trip, we recommend taking them to Mount Rushmore early in the morning before all the tourists arrive. This way, you can take in all of the stunning views from atop the mountain, take photos, and learn about its fascinating history.
Bring a picnic lunch and some drinks, since there isn’t an on-site restaurant. Luckily, there are plenty of food options nearby at local restaurants and convenience stores.
Another option is staying at a campground. There are numerous camping resorts near the park that provide amenities like pools, jumping pillows and other fun activities for kids.
For something a bit more relaxed, check out Under Canvas Mount Rushmore. They offer activities like yoga, bingo and outdoor s’mores. In addition to tent, RV and cabin rentals, this camp also has tenting options available.
5. Acadia National Park
If you’re searching for a rugged wilderness destination with all the modern conveniences of a bustling seaside town, Acadia National Park is an ideal choice. Here, cyclists can ride historic carriage roads, take a boat ride to see whales, enjoy lobster lunch on top of mountains and witness stunning sunsets from mountaintops.
Acadia, the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast, preserves high rocky headlands as well as an array of habitats and a vibrant cultural heritage. It’s one of America’s most popular national parks, drawing 3.5 million visitors annually.
Popular destinations due to its close proximity to New York, Albany is an appealing destination with stunning natural beauty, manmade structures and history. There are 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads as well as wildlife like black bears, moose and foxes.
Take the scenic Park Loop Road that winds its way between Mount Desert Island’s coastline, mountains, and lakes for stunning views or hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for even more stunning panoramas. Alternatively, you can explore this park by bike or aboard one of their shuttle buses – The Island Explorer.
No matter your level of hiking expertise, there’s a trail for everyone in this 120-mile network of captivating hiking trails that winds its way through the park, offering everything from easy strolls to strenuous adventures.
Families will find plenty of family-friendly hikes to choose from. For a relaxing and enjoyable hike with ocean views, check out the Ocean Path Trail to Sand Beach. Here, kids can walk on sections of granite boulders near the waters edge – an excellent introduction to hiking!