Road trips are the ultimate, classic family vacation. Whether you’re stuck in a small station wagon with no air conditioning or rolling down the road in a custom RV, there’s nothing that can compare to the memories made on those close-quarters vacations.
Although you can make a road trip with any vacation route, there are also classic destinations worth exploring. Here are 3 of the best, attraction-packed U.S. road trips (plus an international bonus) to consider:
Coast to Coast
What better way to tour destinations in the U.S. than to travel the I-90? Starting in Boston, Massachusetts and ending in Seattle, Washington, America’s longest interstate will take your family on an amazing journey through 13 states.
There is plenty to do and see both on and slightly off of I-90, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time. Enjoy the beauty of both the Great Lakes and the Great Plains. Detour to famous landmarks and natural wonders like Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls. Enjoy the unique and haunting beauty of Badlands National Park.
For a somber educational stop, visit Wounded Knee Museum to learn about the massacre from the Native American perspective. For a fun and kitschy attraction, stop by Wall Drug. There are no admission fees to the 76,000 square foot blend of history, fiction and fun. Get your picture taken with or buy a souvenir jackalope. Enjoy five-cent coffee and plenty of photo ops and educational opportunities.
With two famous, vibrant cities as the start and end point, don’t forget to reserve a few days to see what Boston and Seattle have to offer.
Grand Canyon to Yellowstone
For the nature loving family, what could be better than a road trip between two of the United States’ greatest natural attractions?
Start in the Grand Canyon, where kids can become a Junior Ranger for free. After learning about and exploring that unforgettable natural wonder, head for Yellowstone National Park by way of Salt Lake City. Take a few days in SLC to research your family genealogy, play at theme and water parks, and visit the zoos, aquariums, planetariums and Olympic sites from the Salt Lake Games.
If you have time, take a drive to the Bonneville Salt Flats before moving on to Yellowstone. Watching Old Faithful is a classic Yellowstone must-see, but there are also plenty of other natural wonders, animals and trails to enjoy.
Starting in Chicago and ending in LA, Route 66 is the classic American route. Filled with Americana and unique mom-and-pop roadside stops, Route 66 has served as a memorable travel route for decades.
Make time to enjoy a few of the many fascinating stops and detours. Kids will love exploring the Meramec Caverns in Missouri, especially once they learn the famous outlaw Jesse James used the limestone caves as a hideout. Visit the site of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House books at her Historic Home and Museum. Eat your fill in Hamburger City (El Reno) and stop by Albuquerque and Santa Fe and view the wonders of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.
For a fun new addition to the route, be sure the keep your vehicle steady at 45 mph as you drive past Tijears, New Mexico where musical rumble strips play America the Beautiful when driven at that speed.
London to Edinburgh
Want to start crossing off international travel destinations? A road trip of the UK is the perfect place to start. A shared language will make the visit more accessible to children (and parents), yet there are enough attractions and cultural differences to make for an exciting and memorable experience.
Start your trip in London and visit classic sites like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower of London. Let kids enjoy a bird’s eye view with a ride on the London Eye, then tap into their imagination with visits to the Peter Pan statue and Platform 9 and ¾.
Once you leave London, your route is up to you. If you love nature, detour through the Peak District and Lake District. Want a bit of classic England? Stop for a night in one of England’s picturesque towns like tiny Coxwold and dine (and lodge) at an inn like The Fauconberg Arms where you can enjoy a hearty English meal by the fire.
Are you a family of history buffs? Take your route through historic towns like Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon before visiting the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall.
Finish up your UK tour in Edinburgh, Scotland and tour its castle, zoo and – if you’re brave enough – take one of its ghost tours.
More than any other vacation, road trips are the most customizable, family (and wallet) friendly trips you can take. With gas at a reasonable price, there’s no better time to start planning your 2015 family road trip.