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  • Writer's pictureBaby Whisperers

Family Road Trip Destinations

With summer approaching, many families are looking for fun family-centered destinations for road trips! Thank you to The Every Mom for this fun list!


Some of the best family memories are made while on vacation. It’s a time for putting our to-do lists aside, adventuring a little, relaxing a lot, and spending time together without the distractions of everyday life. There’s truly no better way to get quality time than spending days in a confined space together. That’s right, we’re talking about road trips!

A road trip can be a great way to spend a family vacation for several reasons. First, they’re often more affordable than buying plane tickets for everyone (and there’s no 50-pound limit on what you can pack). Plus, nothing beats the added bonus of spontaneity that only road trips can provide. If you see a sign for the world’s largest ball of yarn, there’s no one saying you can’t swing by for a photo op. 

From exploring our National Parks to hitting the beach and everything in between, road trips make for some of the best memories. We love the freedom they allow, but when the possibilities are endless it can be tough to decide on the perfect destination. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 20 of our favorite road trip destinations in the U.S. that are perfect for the trip of your dreams, organized by region. 

Out West

Everyone should experience the Grand Canyon at least once. It’s the quintessential road trip destination within the U.S. because it’s easily drivable from most parts of the country. Whether your little ones are adventurous enough to spend time hiking around the canyon or seeing the drivable parts is enough, this is an experience everyone will enjoy. Plus, there are so many things to do in the area like mule riding, whitewater rafting, and experiencing Native American culture. This is a trip they’ll remember for a lifetime. Plus, it’s only a two-hour drive to Sedona, Arizona which offers even more possibilities.

We’re here to tell you that there’s more to the Black Hills of South Dakota than just Mount Rushmore (although that’s a must-see as well). On your way out to the carved mountain, take in the beauty of the scenic drive through the Badlands. Don’t forget to go through Bear Country, where your little ones will be able to (safely) get-up close and personal with wildlife like bears, buffalo, and wild donkeys. Be sure to check your dates to make sure it’s open during the time of year you want to go.

For more family fun, check out Custer State Park and drive the impressive Needles Highway, tour the underground trails of Jewel Cave, and take a leisurely train ride through the mountains on the 1880 Train. When you’re ready to head back to civilization, make your way to Deadwood for live daily reenactments of the Wild Wild West. 

San Diego is an excellent option for a family vacation because there’s something for everyone. If your little ones are extra adventurous, they’ll love taking surfing lessons on one of the city’s beautiful beaches. Plus, the San Diego Zoo is famous for a reason—with more than 650 species of animals, your little ones will love spending a day at this attraction. Be sure to stop by La Jolla Cove to see dozens of seals basking in the sun before hitting the water yourself for some snorkeling. And you won’t want to miss Balboa Park, home to 17 museums everyone will enjoy. 

It’s fun to fantasize about vacationing in Europe but when you only have a few days and kids in tow, we have to get creative closer to home. Leavenworth may be located in the Pacific Northwest but it fulfills cross-Atlantic travel dreams with its storybook Bavarian-style architecture, fresh alpine air, and delicious German food (schnitzel, anyone?). Visiting this enchanting town in the Cascade Mountains gives ample opportunity for travelers to get outside—whether that’s by mountain biking and zip-lining or strolling around downtown.  

Experience what it feels like to be a Dutton (sort of) by heading out west to Yellowstone National Park. This is the “Old Faithful” road trip millions of people have taken, and for good reason. At Yellowstone, families can see thousand-year-old geysers, tons of wildlife, and gorgeous canyons. This destination has been made incredibly family-friendly, with most attractions having stroller-friendly boardwalks. Your littles will be so excited to talk about all the wildlife they may not usually get to see. Some other great places to check out while in the area are Jackson Hole, WY, Idaho Falls, ID, and Bozeman, MT.

Situated across the bay from San Francisco, Sausalito earns our vote as the most adorable and family-friendly town in Marin County. This seaside community supplies a mild Mediterranean climate and heaps of opportunities for hiking and biking through Golden Gate National Recreation Area, plus beaches for strolls and kayaking. The walkable downtown brims with stores, cafés, casual restaurants, and ice cream shops (be sure to stop for a scoop at Lappert’s). Colorful houseboats line the marina. Oh, and don’t miss the Bay Area Discovery Museum and The Marine Mammal Center.

The South

Head to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee for the family fun of your dreams! With endless attractions for kids like the SkyLift Park, Hollywood Star Cars Museum, and Anakeesta theme park, your kiddos will be asking to go back here again and again. You won’t want to miss out on a day at Dollywood, either! Tennessee’s premium amusement park is just 20 minutes north of Gatlinburg in Pigeon Forge. You’ll have the best time going on all the rides and trying fun foods. Gatlinburg is also filled with fun distilleries like Ole Smoky and Sugarlands, so bring the grandparents along to babysit for parents’ night out sampling some Tennessee whiskey and moonshine.

For the ultimate kid-friendly beach vacation, head to Galveston, TX. The city is filled with beautiful beaches, fun attractions like waterparks and aquariums, and the historic Pleasure Pier boardwalk you won’t want to miss. A vacation to Galveston is the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. You can head to the beach at Galveston Island State Park for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. Then, make your little ones’ dreams come true by spending a day or two at Texas’ premium waterpark, Schlitterbahn. Plus, there’s nothing quite like a road trip through Texas—if you don’t stop at a Buc-ee’s gas station along the way, you’re missing out (trust us on this one)!

If south Texas is a bit too far, consider Myrtle Beach, SC. Your little ones will love playing on the beach while you get some much-needed R&R. Myrtle Beach is also filled with tons of kid-friendly attractions like Ripley’s Aquarium, a Pirates Voyage dinner show, and amusement parks galore. If extended family is joining and you have the option for parents’ night out, check out The Bowery on the boardwalk for a fun live music experience every night. You can spend days perusing the Myrtle Beach boardwalk for shops and restaurants before enjoying some sun and sandcastle-building on the beach. 

One of the loveliest small towns in the Lone Star State, Fredericksburg may not be big but this beloved destination punches well above its weight when it comes to culture and charm. A few days in this beloved Texas Hill Country destination gives travelers the chance to amble through downtown, admire the German architecture, eat some delicious food (like the kid-approved chicken fingers and loaded nachos at Tubby’s Ice House), and visit Wildseed Farms to pick pumpkins, see farm equipment up close, and sip local wine (obviously, that’s just for parents). 

U-pick farms make Dahlonega the perfect weekend getaway for families looking to taste all the bounty of Georgia. Speaking of food, this town also serves up home-cooked fare that even picky eaters will devour. Underground mine tours, panning for glittering nuggets, and gemstone grubbin’ at the Consolidated Gold Mine are always exciting for kiddos. Dahlonega Butterfly Farm gives visitors a glimpse at majestic winged creatures in a beautiful setting. Be sure to check out their local farmers’ markets and annual festivals like October’s Gold Rush Days.

East Coast

Just because your kids are on vacation doesn’t mean it can’t be educational! They’ll learn all about the role of Williamsburg in the American Revolution by experiencing the living history museum that is Colonial Williamsburg. With actors dressed in period attire, your little ones will learn all about colonial life—and maybe appreciate some of the luxuries we have today a bit more. Be sure to stop by Jamestowne and Yorktown when you’re in the area to get the full “Historic Triangle” experience.

Lenox used to be a high-society summer resort back in the day. But travelers have since gotten wise to its appeal in other seasons. During the fall, this Berkshires town is enchanted with colorful leaves and ample outdoor recreation. Hiking trails for all levels wind through Pleasant Valley Sanctuary and Kennedy Park and are a perfect way to reconnect with nature any time of the year. Aspinwall Equestrian Center does lessons for beginners and guided horseback riding through the hills. Toddlers and older kids with an interest in trains will jump at the chance to visit the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum. 

Acadia National Park in Maine is beautiful and incredibly kid-friendly. This 47,000-acre recreational area is filled with beaches, the East Coast’s highest point (Cadillac Mountain), and endless amounts of wildlife. You and your family can spend an active week biking, hiking, and boating, all while enjoying the natural beauty of the area. Plus, everyone can leave with the title of “Junior Ranger” after completing one of Acadia’s Ranger Programs, where you’ll learn all about the nature and culture of the area from an actual Park Ranger.

If you want to ensure your little ones get top marks in history class when they get back to school, then hit the road to Washington, D.C. As one of the most historic cities in our country, the learning possibilities are endless. Between the Smithsonian, Lincoln Memorial, National Archives Museum, and much, much more, your week will be packed with unforgettable experiences. There’s history around every corner in our nation’s capital. While you’re there, be sure to swing by The White House for a tour.

Just a short drive from bustling Washington, D.C. is the family-friendly countryside destination of Middleburg. Just about an hour from the nation’s capital, this charming Virginia town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains feels like a true reprieve from city life. It offers a great opportunity for a scenic drive or walk on one of the many walking trails. As one of the country’s equestrian capitals, it’s a great place to go horseback riding, take a horsemanship class, and watch races.

Looking for a great weekend getaway from New York York City? This beloved riverside town turns on the charm in September, October, and November, but is great all year round. Families keen to commune with nature on a deeper level have access to hiking trails in nearby parks. Apple picking and farm tours also top the list of memorable outdoor activities for all ages. Don’t forget to pick up some souvenirs at the shops along Warren Street.

The Midwest

For a good chunk of the year, it may be unbearable to withstand a Wisconsin winter—but the late spring, summer, and fall are quite different. One of the most charming places to visit in Wisconsin is the Door County Peninsula. Especially in the summer, the county is brimming with locals and visitors alike soaking up the warm sun on beautiful Lake Michigan. It’s the perfect spot to relax and get back to nature, while also being able to explore picturesque small towns filled with charming restaurants and shops. Bike, hike, kayak, camp, and experience Wisconsin’s slower pace of life with this one-of-a-kind destination. While you’re in town, you won’t want to miss out on a Wisconsin classic, the fish boil.

Travelers know and love Hermann for its wine heritage. But Missourians will tell you that this low-key small town is a dream destination for a family trip. From biking the Katy Trail to zip-lining through the forest, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures. Self-guided walking tours through the historic district bring the past to life for kiddos (and parents who maybe don’t remember the westward expansion units back in school). And everyone loves the sweet treats from Sugar Momma’s.

Find yourself in peaceful serenity in the Northwoods of Minnesota. The best times to visit are in the gentle heat of the summer or colorful fall for out of this world views of the foliage. Get outside by hiking on local trails like Oberg Mountain Trail, or kick up your feet on a gondola ride on the Lutsen Mountain Summit Express. After you work up an appetite, be sure to check out the charming Wild Country Maple Products store and stock up on fresh maple syrup. Be on the lookout for for local wildlife like caribou and moose while exploring.

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