Road trips are an excellent way for a family to bond, share amazing experiences, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Traveling to new destinations and exploring along the way means there is something fun for everyone. A great family road trip can be a short as a day or can last as long as you want. Here we have listed several of the top family road trips. As shown, these are mostly long trips, so they could take weeks or months to complete in their entirety. If you have the time and resources for that, great, if not, look along the route and pick out sections that are more manageable for your timeframe and budget. Or choose based on what seems most inspiring to your family.
1. US 90 from Wisconsin to Seattle
This route is one of the best America has to offer. Over the course of 2,000 miles, you will experience the Midwest, Mississippi River, Great Plaines, Black Hills, Rocky Mountains, and the Cascade Mountains. This trip also takes you into or near several key national parks, national monuments, and historical areas. These include The Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave National Monument, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, North Cascades National Park, Mount Rainer National Park, and Olympic National Park. There are also several great towns to visit along the way, each with its regional character.
Interstate 90 is a primary east/west route across the US. As such, they’re a lot of facilities along the way. Gas stations are not far apart and are generally large and easy to navigate. Campgrounds or towns with other accommodations are also well spaced. It also carves a relatively flat path across the mountains. There are some decent hills, but the route is easily manageable if you take your time.
2. US 101 from Astoria, OR to Santa Rosa, CA
Like Interstate 90, this is a long trip that can be done in one trip, or you can pick sections to explore. This route can be broken down into three major sections. From Astoria, OR to Brookings, OR is a trip down the rocky Oregon coast. Here you’ll find breathtaking views, fabulous beaches, great tide pools and several amazing small seaside towns to explore. When you pass Brookings and head into Northern California, you are entering redwood country. As you head south through Crescent City and Klamath, you will be going in and out of the Redwood National and State Parks. Klamath, CA, is a great place to set up camp to visit this area. Centrally located amongst the parks, there are several good RV parks in the area. As you head south from Klamath, you will go in and out of redwood forests until you enter wine country north of Santa Rosa. There are several small towns in the area right on or very close to US 101, which are great places to get out, explore, shop, and sample the local wines. There are also some large estate wineries along the way that are worth a visit.
From Santa Rosa, you can head south and visit San Francisco, or east to visit the wineries and towns along the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The route is generally easy to drive, although it can be slow and congested at peak times. There are a lot of private campgrounds as well as state and national park campgrounds along the way.
3. US 35 from San Antonio, TX to Dallas TX
This is a shorter road trip that can be done in a week or less, but there is still a lot to see and do in the area. San Antonio is a great walking city that is rich in history. On the southern side of town is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which gives an excellent look into early American and Texas history. At the northern end of the park is the most famous mission in the area, The Alamo. This free attraction is a historical must-see. From the Alamo, you can easily walk to the Riverwalk and enjoy the family-friendly restaurants, bars, and shopping along the river or hop on a narrated boat river tour to catch up on San Antonio’s history.
Austin is a short drive away up I35. Austin is the state capital, and the capital building is worth a visit. Just down the street from the capital is the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which offers outstanding exhibits covering Texas History. Austin is well known for its social scene. For families, a trip down South Congress Avenue during the day is a lot of fun. Many great restaurants and shops are lining the street. Speaking of food, if you want to take the family for some great Texas BBQ, plan a short side trip to The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. You won’t be disappointed. If you visit during the spring, Austin plays host to the Austin Rodeo, which is a several week events with daily events including rodeo activities, fair rides, and live music.
Dallas is at the end of the route, but on the way to Dallas, you’ll pass through Waco, which is also a great small town. Fort Worth is also a short trip from Dallas. The Fort Worth Stockyards are a must-see if you are in the area. If you can make it over there, plan on spending most of the day exploring. Dallas itself is a major city with a lot to do. Some key attractions include the 6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which covers the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The museum is located on the sixth floor of the book repository, where the fatal shots were fired. Not far from there are the Dallas World Aquarium and The Perot Museum of Nature and Science. All are first-rate facilities worth a visit.
These are three top family road trips that cover an extensive area with plenty of diversity. There is something for everyone somewhere along these routes, and they provide an excellent opportunity for families to learn, grow, and experience cultural diversity together.
Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years. Shelly is always looking to find the next hike off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.