What will you do with your two week’s vacation with the family? There are generally three schools of thought regarding a summer vacation: Staycation (home), destination (elsewhere), and exploration (road trip). We’re all about learning here at DriversEd.com, so our favorite road trip is the exploration kind, as opposed to staying put or jetting overseas. It’s the best way to enjoy our national parks, beaches, mom-and-pop shops and diners, and the country’s diverse cities.
Instead of traveling with a certain place in mind, think of the road trip as visiting hundreds of destinations. Here, we’ve gathered just a few family road trip ideas across the United States.
5 Family Road Trips to Take this Summer
1. Alaska Highway — Unadulterated Natural Beauty
Let’s start with maybe the most difficult road trip you’ll ever encounter, at least on pavement. There are three ways to get to Alaska, the “Last Frontier”: air, sea, or land. By land, there is but a single highway that will get you across the Alaska/Canada border, the Alcan Highway. Wherever you start in the United States, once you cross the border into Canada, you’ll have to wind your way to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Alaska Highway Mile 0.
From Dawson Creek, just head north — there are no alternatives. Indeed, for some 1,400 miles, you’ll enjoy scenic vistas, mostly untouched by man, and drive hundreds of miles past blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “towns.” Still, there are good spots to pull over to sleep for the night to take a nap, as well as lodging along the way. Plan for at least a week, and be sure to stop in Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, and Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The biggest challenge will be making sure your vehicle is in shape, carrying spare parts and extra gas, and entertainment for the kids.
2. Coast to Coast — Interstate 90
If it’s the open road that calls to you, but you’d rather be somewhat closer to civilization, the coast-to-coast trip, on Interstate 90, is the nation’s longest interstate highway. At just over 3,000 miles, it will take a good couple of weeks to travel it, but that mileage and time doesn’t include detours, and we suggest taking as many as possible! Located in the northern half of the country, I-90 connects Boston, MA, and Seattle, WA.
I-90 passes through 13 states and hundreds of attractions , such as the New England Aquarium, Old Sturbridge Village, Pokagon State Park, Legoland Discovery Center, Circus World Museum, the SPAM Museum, Devil’s Gulch Park, the Corn Palace, Wall Drug Store, Mount Rushmore National Monument. Notable cities along I-90 include Boston, Albany, Chicago, Sioux Falls, Madison, Toledo, Butte, Seattle, and Spokane. The biggest challenge here might be boredom, which is why we suggest plenty of detours.
3. Old Route 66 — A Trip through History
Old Route 66 is a classic road trip along a highway that was decommissioned in 1985, which makes it perfect for those seeking a nostalgic road trip down memory lane. This classic status is confirmed as you visit restored gas stations, classic car museums, historic post offices, and vintage diners. Over 2,500 miles long, Route 66 crosses eight states, from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. As with all road trips, side-trips abound, such as Death Valley National Park, Amboy Crater, Grand Canyon National Park, and Las Vegas.
Route 66 is a great combination of things to see and open road . The biggest challenge on Route 66 might be twofold: First, sweltering summer and desert temperatures will test your vehicle . Second, deciding which side-trips not to take will test your resolve, because they could easily extend your trip beyond your vacation time.
4. Utah Grand Circle Tour
You don’t have to cross state lines to have a great road trip. One shining example of this is the Utah Grand Circle Tour, featuring 11 days of beautiful national parks and great cities . It’s the perfect combination of natural wonder and arts and entertainment, not to mention great food!
This road trip covers six national parks and several state parks. Canyons, sunsets, rock formations, mountains, and mountain meadows are going to give you one singular challenge. The only question you need to know the answer to is, “Is my camera up to the task?” Pick up a travel guide, National Parks Pass , hiking boots, and extra batteries.
5. Great River Road National Scenic Byway
The Mississippi River is the nation’s second-longest river, about 100 miles shorter than the Missouri River, one of its tributaries. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway travels through 10 states along “The Big Muddy,” a trip through American history and culture . This road trip runs about two weeks and 1,400 miles, along which you’ll enjoy national and state parks, the big beautiful Mississippi River system, museums, and other attractions.
The headwaters of the Mississippi are found in Lake Itasca State Park, MN, and you can follow the flow through great cities all the way to New Orleans, LA. The National Brewery Museum is a must-see for wine and beer lovers, and a dinner/dance cruise on The river is a must-do on almost any part of the family road trip. Visit Memphis, TN, the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, and New Orleans, LA, for classic Creole cuisine.
Random Road Trip
Many of these family road trips require planning, but these surely aren’t the only ones you can take. Every state and every region has its own special attractions, and you don’t even have to plan very much to enjoy the ride. Really, the only things you need are a reliable car, snacks, and entertainment for the kids, and then just pick a direction. Go where the wind blows or the road leads and imagine what you’ll see!
DriversEd.com Mobile Apps to Take on the Road
DriversEd.com and its parent company, eDriving, offer two safe driving apps designed give you the best learning experience possible. Use our Drivers Ed app for 24/7 access to instructions, tools, and free practice tests. With Mentor for Families , you can bring the latest in driver safety technology to your vehicle. The app, which runs while your drive, analyzes your driving habits and rates your performance so you can strengthen your driving skills.
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