Road trips are the perfect opportunity to spend time with family and create lasting memories. While packing up the bags and getting everyone together for the trip may be a hassle, the adventure you find along the way and watching the scenery change around you is an experience you won’t soon forget.
Experiencing these new places with your family is by far the best part of family road trips as you live the stories you will one day tell years down the road at holiday dinners.
If your family is an avid road trip family, you may be running out of family road trip ideas. If this is the case, there is no need to worry as we have compiled a list of 15 of the best family road trips in the US.
- The Best Road Trips in the US for Families
- Branson, Missouri
- Route 66
- Vermont Fall Foliage Road Trip
- Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park
- Pig Trail
- Pacific Coast Highway
- Highway 7 Scenic Byway
- North Shore Scenic Drive
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Scenic Byway 12
- The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway
- Florida Keys
- Saddle Road
- George Park Highway
- State Highway 82
The Best Road Trips in the US for Families
Families all across the United States find happiness in partaking on a road trip adventure. However, inspiration for these road trips can be hard to come across, depending on the time of year and home location.
Whether your family seeks road trip adventure regularly or you are partaking on your very first family road trip, here are the best road trips in the US for families.
There is nothing quite like a trip to the good ole midwest. Whether you are a midwest native or as far from the midwest as you can get, a trip to Branson, Missouri, will not disappoint.
Branson is a year-round destination spot with the best times to visit in the middle of the summer or Christmas. Because Branson is located on Table Rock Lake, like time activities and beautiful lake condos are a draw to the area.
Once you enjoy a day out in the sun on your boat rental, drive down the Highway 76 Strip to experience what is known as “Little Vegas.” The Strip is bursting at its seams with entertainment opportunities.
A significant draw to Branson is the Winter Wonderland it transforms to in November and December. If your family needs a vacation destination for Christmas, Branson will not disappoint. Visit The Branson Landing and immerse yourself in Christmas music and a Christmas light show. Or, visit Silver Dollar City to take in the millions of sparkling Christmas lights on display.
One of the best parts about a family road trip to Branson is no matter which direction you come from, the beauty of the Ozark hills allows you to see for miles. The rock formations on both sides of the highway let you experience the area’s true natural beauty before reaching the majestic Table Rock Lake-town.
Route 66 is one of the most well-known family road trips in the United States, stretching from Chicago, IL, to Los Angeles, CA. This 2,448-mile trek is a must for every family.
The historic route goes through the heart of the midwest. It allows you to mark the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California off your list of states you’ve visited.
One of the most beneficial parts of the Route 66 road trip is that you don’t have to travel the whole thing to enjoy what it has to offer. Start on I-44 Springfield, MO, and travel to Carthage, MO, to see a Drive-In movie at 66 Drive-In Theatre.
After your movie and a night’s stay in The Westport Lodge, make your way to Oklahoma City, OK, to check out the American Banjo Museum. Once you have your fill of banjos, stop at Boomarang Diner in OKC before continuing your trip East towards Texas.
You can’t drive through Amarillo, TX, without stopping at the unique Cadillac Ranch, where you will find ten Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground. These ten Cadillacs represent the succession of the car line, and the cars used were either older or junk cars. We promise your trip on Route 66 will not disappoint!
Vermont Fall Foliage Road Trip
It’s no secret that Vermont is a premier fall foliage destination. Stowe, Vermont, was named one of the best places in the United States to view the autumn colors. If your family enjoys the beauty of the leaves changing from their green colors to vibrant oranges and reds, a road trip to Vermont in the fall is a must.
Starting in Bennington, VT, travel north through Weston and Killington. After stopping and exploring Killington, continue north and cross over the Winooski River into Middlesex. Once you arrive at Middlesex, stop by Red Hen Baking Co. and enjoy a fresh piece of Apple Pie and a glass of milk.
If you’re not served a dairy side with your pie, such as milk, cheese, or a big scoop of ice cream, you may have to call the authorities as it is illegal for restaurants to serve apple pie without a “good effort” to serve dairy side in Vermont.
Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park
A list of the best family road trips in the US wouldn’t be complete without the Grand Canyon. If natural beauty is the name of the game, the Grand Canyon takes home first place. The stunning views of the canyon, mixed with its surrounding natural beauty, make it one of the most highly sought-after vacation destinations in the world.
Because there is so much natural beauty surrounding the Grand Canyon, it would be a shame for you to visit the Grand Canyon and not explore the surrounding canyons. That is why this loop of the area is elite.
Starting in Las Vegas, travel to the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park. Here you have the opportunity to take in the majesty of the canyon and enjoy the most visited part of the park. After taking in the views and visiting the visitor center, hop back in the car and head towards the north rim, then continue onto Page, AZ, where you can view the canyon’s east side.
From Page, AZ, make your way to Bryce Canyon for a less-visited canyon, but still popular nonetheless. The red clay mixed with the unique rock structures of Bryce Canyon makes it a unique destination you won’t soon forget.
Once you have your fill of Bryce Canyon, continue onto Zion National Park then, finish your loopback in Vegas.
Although the Pig Trail is a renowned motorcyclist trail, it is also the perfect family road trip to take in the beauty of the Ozarks. Starting and ending in Fayetteville, the Pig Trail gets its name from the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, which call Fayetteville home.
Motorcyclists heavily trafficked this trail during Bikes, Blues, and BBQ, an annual bike fest with a BBQ destination in Fayetteville. This festival is typically held on the last weekend of September.
If a family road trip on the Pig Trail is on your bucket list, you may consider refraining from taking this trip during the festival. Otherwise, you may have issues with bikers attempting to pass your vehicle on the curvy roads, preventing you from enjoying your drive.
Take in the beauty of the Ozarks and the small, historical towns along the way. Make sure you stop by The Farmer’s Table Cafe and eat an authentic Arkansan breakfast. You may also consider stopping in Eureka Springs, comparable to Gatlinburg, TN, and walking the historic downtown area while enjoying the rolling hills.
Pacific Coast Highway
If you love the ocean breeze and live for beach vacations, there is no doubt that you’ve heard of the popular Pacific Coast Highway. Running along the Pacific Ocean from Washington to California, the Pacific Coast Highway is full of ocean views, magnificent cliffs, and picturesque towns.
Composed of highway US 101 in Washington and Oregon and California Highway 1 in the Golden State, this 1,675-mile stretch is sure to impress everyone in your family.
Starting in Olympia, Washington, head south on US 101 and make a stop at Hoh Rainforest. A rainforest in Washington? That’s right! Because of the precipitation the area receives, this area qualifies as a rainforest—the foliage is a sight to see.
After a small hike through Hoh Rainforest, continue south, stopping at the various beach destinations through Washington and Oregon. One of the more unique beach stops is Devils Punch Bowl, where you will find a unique rock formation in the ocean.
Once in California, you must drive through the redwood trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park and stop to take a quick hike. Further south, you will find the Fort Bragg glass beach that is full of sea glass.
Continuing down the Pacific Coast Highway, you will find numerous stops with fantastic views and unique experiences. You must stop and get some seafood along the way. Even if you don’t prefer seafood, fresh and professionally prepared seafood may change your mind.
Highway 7 Scenic Byway
There is a reason Arkansas highways are on this list more than once. The Highway 7 Scenic Byway is known as one of the best drives in America, which totals 290 miles.
Another popular drive among motorcyclists, this byway begins on the southernmost border of Louisiana and Arkansas in El Dorado, AR. It ends in Diamond City, AR, near the Arkansas and Missouri border.
This scenic route winds through four of the state’s geographical regions and passes through the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. The Ouachita Mountains are known for their quartz crystals, while the Ozark Mountains produce winding roads with spectacular views.
While on your scenic tour of Arkansas, be sure and stop in Hot Springs, where you can enjoy the Hot Springs National Park. The national park is known for the naturally warm waters that you can experience along Bathhouse Row.
It is also imperative that you partake in a true midwestern activity at Ron Coleman Mining in Jessieville. Give your legs a stretch in Jessieville by visiting Ron Coleman Mining, where you can dig for quartz and crystals. Anything you find you are free to take home, which makes for a unique souvenir.
You will also find numerous hiking spots along the way, with some of our favorites in Newton county along the Buffalo National River. Don’t miss out on the beauty the Ozarks have to offer by planning your road trip on Highway Scenic Byway today!
North Shore Scenic Drive
Lake Superior is known for its scenic shoreline and crystal clear waters, which makes the North Shore Scenic Drive one you have to experience. Located in Minnesota, this drive takes you along access points to eight different state parks and through Superior National Forest.
Make a stop at the 1910 Split Rock Lighthouse, which has become a Minnesota icon through the years. Or, take some time out of your vehicle to visit the commercial fishing museum in Tofte.
If reading about the area’s history doesn’t strike your interest, stop at the Superior Hiking Trail and go for a short hike to stretch your legs while taking in the surrounding scenery. You can also visit the local golf course, mountain biking park, and ski area to add multiple activities to your quest.
Don’t forget to stop by the New Scenic Cafe in Duluth, MN, to experience local cuisine like Canadian hot chicken or smoked beets. It’s also a must to stop by Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, MN, for some Banana Cream Pie.
Blue Ridge Parkway
It’s nearly impossible to compare the vast difference of the natural scenery from one side of the United States to the other. You have the canyons and desert in the west and the majestic mountains in the east, which offer immaculate views. However, if I had to pick my favorite family road trip destination, it would have to be Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blue Ridge Parkway is located along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Carolinas and Virginia and offers some of the most spectacular views in the US. Begin your journey on Blue Ridge Parkway at the base of Shenandoah National park in Afton, Virginia, and end in Cherokee, North Carolina, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Along the way, you will travel through mountain towns like Roanoke, Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina. In Roanoke, you can shop at the local markets and boutiques along the historic downtown stretch with views of the mountains as the city’s backdrop.
Continuing along the parkway, you will travel through the quaint little town of Blowing Rock, NC, before finding yourself in Asheville, NC. In Asheville, you will find numerous recreation and nature activity options mixed in with an artistic atmosphere.
Whether your family is all for getting out and exploring nature or prefers to enjoy the local culture, you are sure to find something that the whole family will enjoy along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Scenic Byway 12
Known as the “All-American Road,” Scenic Byway 12 in Utah is sure to get your kids off their phones and fixated on the scenery out the window. Just over 122 miles, this stretch of road takes you through the desert mountains, where you will see slickrock and how the sun reflects off the red rocks.
This Scenic Byway connects US 89 near Panguitch to SR 24 near Torrey. Stop at the scenic overlook along the route to take in the 9,000-foot view where you can see for miles and take in what the area’s natural beauty has to offer.
Be sure to stop at the Dixie National Forest, where you can explore the area by food and view various peaks and plateaus, lakes, and valleys. You can also stop along the way at the Capitol Reef National Park, where you will find a stretch of the Waterpocket Fold with multi-colored rock and rolling hills.
The Hogback Area of the byway stretches along a narrow ridge, with both sides of the road dropping drastically. This stretch is one of the more famous parts of the byway, and for good reason.
With so many naturally beautified spots along Scenic Byway 12, it’s tough to pick and choose which ones to stop at and enjoy and which to pass up. While all stops along the way are 100% worth it, one of the more unique stops is the Lower Calf Creek Falls.
In the middle of the desert, it is refreshing to find a scenic waterfall. While this waterfall does require a hike, it is a must-stop along the byway. You can find the trailhead that takes you to Lower Calf Creek Falls at the Calf Creek Campground.
The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway
Mountains, desert, forests, farms, and Spanish and Indian villages, The High Road to Taos Scenic Byway in New Mexico has it all. A road trip out west is one of the most American road trips you can take as you engulf yourself in the area’s rich history and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds you.
Pack your bags and load the kids; this scenic highway is one we are sure will not disappoint. This byway runs between Santa Fe and Taos and provides mountain views with historic Spanish and Indian villages along the way.
See local architecture that you don’t see anywhere else as you travel along the byway. Stop at the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz de la Canada, a massive church that has seen continuous use for 250 years. Sharpen your western US history by visiting the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian Arts and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum.
Don’t forget to try some of the local Spanish cuisines in Taos, such as tamales, enchiladas, chile Rellenos, and posole.
It is difficult not to enjoy a road trip along the ocean. But what about a road trip on the sea? That’s right, the roadway travel from mainland Florida to the Florida Keys is a road trip you take on the ocean.
The seven-mile bridge that connects keys makes you feel like you’re driving on water. While the bridge that connects the middle keys to the southern keys is seven miles long, the total road trip from Key Largo to Key West is 110-miles and is known as the “Road to Paradise” by locals.
With a mixture of the blue waters to the tropical scenery, you won’t get tired of looking out the window along this road as you can point out the marine life swimming through the ocean waters or the tropical birds floating in the wind.
Stop at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to stretch your legs and discover what lives on the ocean floor and how it survives. You will also have the opportunity to learn a history lesson by visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum.
As with any other road trip, you must check out some local cuisines by visiting Mangoes Key West Cuisine in Old Town Key West for some Cuban seafood stew.
Saddle Road is named after its geographical location in the valley or “saddle” between the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa Mountains. The technical term for the stretch of road is Hawaii Route 200, but we like Saddle Road better.
This 54 mile stretch of land gives you the Hawaiian experience as you can view the pastureland of Hawaii while passing by dried lava flows. You will also experience the edge of the rainforest and desert fields.
You are sure to get an experience like no other on this road trip because who else can say they experienced a rainforest, pastureland, and dried lava on the same road trip?
Don’t forget to get out of the car and stretch your legs along the way by stopping at one of the trailheads or a quaint lunch spot along the highway.
George Park Highway
You may have to rent a vehicle to embark on this road trip, but it is a must for your family road trip bucket list. The George Park Highway is in Alaska and is the road that connects Anchorage and Fairbanks, the two largest cities in the state.
Running approximately 320 miles, this highway takes you through Alaska’s wild wilderness for an experience you won’t soon forget. Keep a close eye out for wild moose or even bears as you travel the George Park Highway.
You can also take in the magnificent views of Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. But why just look at the mountain? Why not make a pit stop and explore? With over six million acres of untamed land, Denali National Park is a must-stop on your Alaskan road trip.
Make sure you take the time to stop along the way for a taste of Alaska at Moose-AKa’s, an Eastern European Restaurant and Tavern. At Moose-Aka’s, you will find appetizers such as Schnitzel Fingers and Mekice, which is fry bread with red peppers and cream cheese.
If you think their appetizers sound unique, wait until you see their main menu with stuffed peppers, Moussaka, and varying types of schnitzel. We promise you will fall in love with the Eastern European cuisine Moose-Aka’s has to offer.
Whether you enjoy experiencing new places for the scenery and adventure, or the delightful food, Alaska has plenty of both to offer along the George Park Highway.
State Highway 82
Colorado is known for its steep mountains and beautiful scenery. That is exactly what you’ll find along Colorado State Highway 82. The highway is engulfed in mountainside scenery that makes you feel finite.
At 12,095 feet above sea level, this 85 mile-long stretch of road is the highest paved road on the Continental Divide in North America and the highest road in Colorado. This means the views from the highway are unmatched, as you can see for miles along the route.
Because this pass is so high above sea level, it is closed in the winter months as winter weather causes driving hazards that shouldn’t be risked.
Stop along the route at one of the many hiking trails to stretch your legs and take in the fresh, crisp air. You may also want to stop by The Twin Lakes Inn Restaurant and enjoy a Tasso Green Chili Omelet for Brunch or a Shrimp Bisque for dinner.
Family road trips are an excellent way to bring the whole family together to create lasting memories. Whether you plan to travel far from home and take a road trip somewhere you’ve never been before, or if they are to stay close to home and see a different side of your local terrain, there are road trips all across the United States that will not disappoint.
Explore the midwest by hopping on Route 66 and driving through the heart of the US. Or, take a more tropical road trip down south to Hawaii along saddle road or the infamous Pacific Coast Highway in California. If you’re in for more of a western adventure, drive along The Highroad to Taos and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer.
Taking a vacation as a family doesn’t just have to be about the destination; let the road trip to your end destination be the adventure your family seeks. What is your favorite family road trip in the United States?
More about our TFVG Author
A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.
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