Why spend a fortune on flights when you can visit the best destinations in the USA by taking a family road trip? Don’t repeat last year’s staycation… you know, the one that got all Lord of the Flies by day two. Use our road trip planner, gas up the car, and go on one of these epic family road trips, instead.
Whether you’re looking for a new favorite beach, awesome national park hikes, or ancient petrogylphs, these five family road trip itineraries are full of ideas for families on where to sleep comfortably, eat heartily, and adventure to your heart’s content; think of us as your very own, personal family adventure road trip planner, curated with love by fellow outdoor-loving, adventure-seeking families
And, don’t forget to read all the way to the bottom for our top family road trip survival tips and tricks, because we all know: The struggle is real!
5 Family Road Trip Ideas in the USA
1. Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary
State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway and PCH, is a major north–south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of California. Logging in at just over 659 miles, the Pacific Coast Highway is the longest state route in California.
Our Pacific Coast Highway road trip planner includes a complete itinerary of 14 must-stop towns along the way, including the best and most family-friendly places to eat, sleep, and adventure. Get our Route 1 road trip itinerary.
2. National Park to Park Highway Road Trip Itinerary
The National Park to Park Highway was a bold, ambitious idea born from Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, to connect 13 national parks in 11 states. Plotted by A. L. Westgard, it was completed in 1920, following a 5,000-mile loop through the Western United States.
The National Park to Park Highway is definitely not a weekend road trip, but it is an audacious way for kids to learn the immeasurable effort and passion our NPS servicemen and women had for making these areas more accessible, and to absorb the grandeur of our National Parks. Get our National Park to Park Highway road trip itinerary.
3. Sedona, Arizona and Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary
Sedona, Arizona is surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. On the outskirts of town you find abundant opportunities for whitewater rafting, bird-watching, hiking, and picnicking spots, all of which have beckoned people to this area for generations.
A 2-hour drive puts you at the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park, the mother of all national parks with its unique combinations of geologic color and erosional forms, making Sedona, AZ the perfect adventure base for families looking to explore. Get our Sedona & Grand Canyon road trip itinerary.
4. The Grand Circle Southwest National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
The Grand Circle road trip is one of the most famous National Parks road trips in the country, covering 1,100 miles of Utah and Arizona blacktop. Stops include iconic geological sites millions of years in the making; Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Grand Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and more.
Our complete guide to the Grand Circle road trip covers 8 towns — plus two stunning Colorado stops we couldn’t help but throw in — and gives you a run down of all our favorite outdoor activities, resting spots, and kid-friendly eateries along the way. Get our Grand Circle road trip itinerary.
5. Columbia River Gorge Historic Highway Road Trip Itinerary
Built through the Columbia River Gorge, but visionary engineers, Oregon’s Historic Columbia River Highway is a 75-mile-long scenic highway connecting Troutdale and The Dalles. Built specifically to highlight the Columbia River Gorge’s spectacular waterfalls, architectural gems, and magnificent overlooks, it’s no wonder this byway is called “King of Roads.”
Also incredibly rich in cultural history, this stretch of the Columbia River Gorge once served as fishing and meeting grounds for the many indigenous peoples of the Columbia Basin. Get our Historic Columbia River Highway road trip itinerary.
5 Family Road Trip Survival Tips
It’s not too much to ask. You just want to get from point A to point B on your family road trip with as little backseat moaning and groaning as possible. We’ve got five family road trip survival tips, so you can keep your sanity and the kids can keep their cool.
- Plan Pitstops – Map out stops between your daily point A and point B, that can include a short hike, a picnic lunch, or even just a stop at a playground. This break will allow kids to get their wiggles out, stretch their legs, and give them some freedom from the confines of the car.
- Stock up on Snacks – The value of snacks cannot be underestimated. Ever. So, stock up on their favorites, but make sure to check sugar counts. Opt for healthy snacks like whole grain crackers, sliced fruits and veggies, and cubed cheese, that won’t get them hyped up while they’re clicked in.
- Get Musical – Music is a great way to engage kids’ imagination and get their heart rates moving from the comfort of their carseats. Let them participate in creating a family road trip soundtrack and watch them sing and dance their little hearts out.
- Toy Toolkit – Choose toys they play with on a daily basis and then add a few new toys to surprise and excite them. Bubbles and a frisbee can go a long way on those planned pitstops, while playdough, crayons, and paper are tried and true carseat crowd-pleasers.
- Stay Safe – Perform a tire check, car tune-up, and oil change before hitting the road and double check that your car’s emergency road kit is filled with bandages, antiseptic wipes or spray, jumper cables, extra food and water, and other necessities.